History Credit

10/13/2010

 

Pretty but not priceless.

 

Urgency Day 310

500 Things Item 191: Glass vase

  • History: I honestly don’t know where it came from
  • Value: I’m sure the flowers that came in it were appreciated
  • Parting Pain: None (I wish it weren’t chipped to make a better regift)
  • Un-possessing: I’ll make it part of a gift (and acknowledge the chip)

My recently visiting brother-in-law from Scotland told me about an amazing and compelling project the British Museum is staging: an exhibit which attempts to reveal

A History of the World in 100 Objects.

Museum curators selected objects that represent significant achievements and trends in art, science, history, technology and communication. The reasoning behind and justifications for the selections are utterly fascinating. Some of the objects, such as the Rosetta Stone (#33), are specifically familiar; many are collectively familiar, such as #1 and #20 from ancient Egypt, or the stone tools from Olduvai Gorge (#2 and #3). But there are many more objects which I regret to say were unfamiliar to me, including many which reveal the Western bias in my education.

The 99 objects selected so far were culled from among the entirety of the collection of the British Museum. That’s some 8 million objects. When people ask me if I have difficulty selecting 500 things to get rid of from my, to put it mildly, more modest “collection,” I have to say no.

There is absolutely no overlap between their 100 priceless Objects and my 500 Things.

Not even with the as-yet unnamed final object which will be voted into the exhibit from among contenders promoted by museum curators and suggested by the public.

What will that ultimate historic object be?

  • A mobile (cell) phone?
  • An Antarctic expedition suit?
  • A portable solar-powered lamp and charger?
  • A contemporary mortar and pestle?
  • Didier Drogba’s Chelsea football (soccer) jersey?

It’s a long road from Olduvai to Chelsea.

Actually, I take back that there is zero overlap in our collections– and unfortunately I don’t mean that I possess a hidden historic treasure. Number 99, the penultimate object in the History of the World in 100 Objects, is a credit card. My one overlap with history is a credit card.

Now there’s one priceless object I am trying to downsize.

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