Christies will be selling at its New York sale 2287, titled Important American Furniture, Folk Art, Silver & Chinese Export, on January 22nd, lot 157, a Skull and Bones balloting box, along with a membership book dated 1872, the graduation year of the former owner, Edward T. Owen (1850 – 1931).
Owen, after Yale, studied at Gottingen and the University of Paris, and became in 1878 professor of French language and literature at the University of Wisconsin. He taught for one year (1886) at the University of California at Berkeley. Professor Owen was also a successful real estate investor and played a prominent role in creating the park system of Wisconsin’s capital, personally donating significant portions of the city’s parks and drives.
Professor Owen apparently, as a hobby, amassed a very important collection of “lithodoctra,” which he he left to the University of Wisconsin. I am particularly impressed myself, finding the word completely unknown to both Google and the Oxford English Dictionary. Litho is obviously “stone” and doctra “teaching, instruction.” But what on earth are lithodoctra?
Professor Owen’s Bones material includes 50 photographs of members of the Yale Senior Society, including future President William Howard Taft; Morrison Remick White, who later became Chief Justice, and William Maxwell Evarts, who went on to become US Secretary of State.
HuffPo recently linked a 4:49 video allegedly showing a courtyard behind the Society’s High Street tomb and investigating a crawlspace beneath the building.