Kangaroo Skull – Collected from Australia

The kangaroo is a marsupial native to Australia. All marsupials are diprotodonts, meaning they have two front teeth, or incisors. But kangaroos are unusual because they have three pairs of incisors in their upper jaw and one pair in their lower jaw. Another unique characteristic of kangaroo skulls is that they are relatively long and… Continue reading

Comic Book – Wonder Woman, Number 46, 1951

Did you know that early Wonder Woman comics included a feature called “Wonder Women of History?” In each issue with this feature, Wonder Woman stepped aside to give voice to the real life stories of exceptional and often silenced women of history. The feature ran for 54 issues and covered fifty different women in science,… Continue reading

Radio Receiver – Atchinson, Kansas, ca. 1930

Cathedral style radio receivers began to appear in the 1930s as a much smaller and compact radio design compared to the console and large “coffin” style radios of the 1920s. Steinite Radio Co. produced this four-tube, AM radio about 1930. It features a superheterodyne circuit, a novel invention that made it possible to boost weak… Continue reading

Gold Plaque – Iran, ca. 5th century BC

Although not even two inches tall, this embossed gold foil plaque is intricately detailed to show a standing male figure wearing a crown. The plaque dates to the Achaemenid Empire, or the First Persian Empire, in Western Asia. This was an ancient Iranian empire with Babylon as its capital. Although we are not sure who… Continue reading

Death’s Head Hawkmoth – Collected from Europe

Look familiar? Fans of the film The Silence of the Lambs may recognize this moth species with its distinctive human skull-shaped pattern of markings. Named for the pattern on its thorax, the Death Head’s Hawkmoth has long been associated with the supernatural and death. As a large nocturnal moth, it flies late at night and… Continue reading

Sputnik Ashtray – Russia, 1957

This ashtray commemorates the successful launch of Sputnik-1, the first artificial Earth satellite launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957. Sputnik orbited our planet for three weeks before its batteries died, sending radio signals as it flew low-Earth orbit. Sputnik triggered the Space Race with the US, ushering in a new era of… Continue reading

Wulfenite – Collected from Sonora, Mexico

Wulfenite is a mineral which often forms stubby, pyramidal, or thin tabular crystals of a bright orange-red to yellow-orange color. It is a unique mineral, easily distinguished from almost all other minerals thanks to its vivid crystal coloring and the localities where it is found. The vibrancy of its color makes wulfenite a highly sought… Continue reading

Soapstone Water Dropper – China, ca. late 1900s

A water dropper is a small container used by calligraphers in East Asian countries to make ink. It is designed so that only a few drops of water can fall at one time. The calligrapher adds water to the surface of an inkstone, grinds an inkstick into the water, causing particles to come off and… Continue reading

Passenger Pigeon – Collected from Eastern U.S.

Most people alive today have probably never seen this bird in the wild. When Europeans first arrived in North America, there were between three and five billion passenger pigeons east of the Rocky Mountains. Just 400 years later, what was once one of the largest bird populations in the world became extinct. The destruction of… Continue reading

Shell Gorget – Mississippian, date unknown

This shell gorget has an incised design of a sun and moon surrounded by a snake. A gorget is a type of ornament worn on a necklace. The Mississippians often incised, or engraved, decorations into their pottery as well as their ornaments. The designs are more than artistic expressions, they are symbols with meaning to… Continue reading