Model Airplane Boeing F4B-4 fighter

Did you know that the Boeing F4B-4 was the U.S. Navy’s last bi-plane fighter, and the last fighter produced for the Navy by Boeing? From 1923 to 1937 Boeing produced several excellent fighter planes, but this aircraft was the first line fighter once it entered service in 1932. It was designed for carrier operation, and… Continue reading

Lobster Claw Collected from the North Atlantic

This large lobster claw specimen still has the knuckle joint and shoulder section attached, although it is missing the lower portion of the claw. Lobsters use their claws to catch food and battle predators as well as other lobsters. This claw is the larger of the two front claws, called the crusher claw, and is… Continue reading

Artifact of the Week: Telegraph Key ca. 1910s

With a marble base and brass hardware, this Boston Telegraph Key was made in Massachusetts by the Clapp-Eastham Company. Telegraph key is a general term for any switching device used to send Morse code. From 1844 right up until World War II, the telegraph was the principal means of fast long-distance communication.   Connect with… Continue reading

Artifact of the Week: Bronze Temple Toy

Did you know that toys, such as this one, were used at temples throughout India to keep children preoccupied while their parents were at prayer? It is a tradition that is at least 200 years old. Originally intended as representative offerings in the shape of horses, camels, elephants, and carriages, the “toys” became an unintentional,… Continue reading

Artifact of the Week: Stromatolite

The earliest fossil evidence of life on Earth, stromatolites are layered deposits of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae. The layers of bacteria create reefs, or mats, over time that trap sediment to form the layers you see here. This specimen is Ozarkcollenia, a distinctive type of layered Precambrian era (prior to 541 million years ago) stromatolite… Continue reading

Artifact of the Week: Chameleon Gold Weight

In the 17th century, the Ashanti, or Akan peoples of Western Africa became the dominant force in the region and one of the richest African kingdoms. Historically the area contained substantial gold deposits and the Ashanti built their strength on the gold trade. This bronze chameleon was used as a counterweight to measure out exact… Continue reading

Artifact of the Week: Chiragra Spider Conch

Like most spider conchs, the Chiragra Spider Conch has a thick shell with six long, curved fingerlike projections jutting outward. This is a species of very large sea snail that lives in shallow waters among coral reefs. On females of the species, the shell opening is pale pink, and the two shoulder “fingers” are larger… Continue reading

Artifact of the Week: Courting Candleholder

According to folklore, from the 1600s to the 1800s, courting candles were used by the man of the home to set boundaries for his daughter. When the daughter’s suitor came to visit, the father lit a candle in this holder. When the candle burnt down to the top of the holder, it was time for… Continue reading

Artifact of the Week: Wulfenite

First described in 1845 and named for an Austrian mineralogist, wulfenite is a unique mineral easily distinguished from almost all other minerals thanks to its vivid crystal coloring. Pure wulfenite is colorless, but most specimens display some range of colors from bright orange-red to yellow-orange. This vibrancy makes wulfenite a highly sought-after mineral by collectors;… Continue reading

Artifact of the Week: Mastodon Tooth

Did you know that unlike their relative the mammoth, mastodons had molars with distinctive, cone-like cusps? Mammoth molars on the other hand were flat with ridges that looked like washboards, much like the modern elephant. Mastodons lived across North America from Alaska down to central Mexico before going extinct around 11,700 years ago. Connect with… Continue reading