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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Happy 18th Birthday, HAL

"I am a HAL 9000 Computer. I became operational at the H—A—L plant in Urbana, Illinois on the 12th of January, 1992."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Skull & Bones Ballot Box Skull For Sale

Christie's in New York is auctioning a human skull modified for use as a ballot box, reputedly from Yale's Skull & Bones senior society. According to an AP article today,

The skull is believed to have been owned by Edward T. Owen, who was graduated from Yale in 1872 and went to become professor of French and linguistics at the University of Wisconsin. The word THOR is etched into the skull; it may have been the nickname given to Owen or another society member.

The skull is being sold with a black book, inscribed with Owen's name, the year 1872 and the numeral 322, a reference to the society's year of inception and to the death of the orator Demosthenes in 322 B.C. It contains the names and photographs of about 50 Bonesmen, including Taft, who became the 27th president of the United States; Morrison Remick Waite, who became U.S. chief justice in 1874; and William Maxwell Evarts, who served as U.S. secretary of state and U.S. attorney general.

The skull and crossed bones are expected to fetch between $10,000 and $20,000 and goes on the block January 22nd.

The official lot notes and description from Christies:

LOT 157/SALE 2287
Together with a small black book listing member names inscribed Edward T. Owen. 1872. on one side and 322. on the other, along with approximately 50 photographs
The skull: approximately 7½ in. high, 17½ in. wide, 10 in. deep

Lot Notes
Founded in 1832 at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, Skull and Bones is thought by many to be one of the oldest and most prestigious secret societies in the United States. The symbolism of the skull and cross bones is synonymous with this group as its name is derived from the symbol itself. The present lot, with hinged flap on top of the skull was said to have been used as a ballot box during society meetings or displayed in the Society's headquarters at 64 High Street in New Haven. The inscription on the right cross bone Thor could be a name which would have been assigned to a member upon induction. Accompanied by approximately 50 photographs of society members and a small black book inscribed with names (which were published until 1971), the present lot provides a rare glimpse into the society which has been linked to many influential figures and leaders at Yale University and in this country.

(Thanks to Adam Kendall for the 'heads up'.)