|The skull may have been displayed in the late 1800s.|
NEW YORK - A human skull that apparently was turned into a ballot box for Yale’s mysterious Skull and Bones society is going on the auction block.
Christie’s estimates the skull will sell for $10,000 to $20,000 when it is auctioned Jan. 22. Fittingly, the auction house has agreed to keep the seller’s name a secret, describing the seller only as a European art collector.
The skull is fitted with a hinged flap and is believed to have been used during voting at the society’s meetings. The auction house said it also may have been displayed at the society’s tomblike headquarters on Yale’s campus in New Haven, Conn., during the late 1800s.
Skull and Bones, an elite society founded in 1832, has closely guarded its members’ names and its activities since the early 1970s. Before that time, the group published an annual roster.
Publicly known members, known as Bonesmen, include President William Howard Taft, both presidents Bush, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, businessman and diplomat Averell Harriman, publisher Henry Luce, and author and commentator William F. Buckley Jr.
The skull is believed to have been owned by Edward T. Owen, who graduated from Yale in 1872 and went on to become professor of French and linguistics at the University of Wisconsin. The word “THOR’’ is etched into the skull.
Skull and Bones invites 15 Yale seniors to join each year. Bonesmen swear an oath of secrecy about the group and its strange rituals, which include initiation rites such as confessing sexual secrets and kissing a skull.