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A Skull-and-Bones ballot box. American, 19th century. Photo Christie's Image 2009

Together with a small black book listing member names inscribed Edward T. Owen. 1872. on one side and 322. on the other, along with approximately 50 photographs. The skull: approximately 7½ in. high, 17½ in. wide, 10 in. deep. Est. $10,000 - $20,000

Notes: Founded in 1832 at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, Skull and Bones is thought by many to be one of the oldest and most prestigious secret societies in the United States. The symbolism of the skull and cross bones is synonymous with this group as its name is derived from the symbol itself. The present lot, with hinged flap on top of the skull was said to have been used as a ballot box during society meetings or displayed in the Society's headquarters at 64 High Street in New Haven. The inscription on the right cross bone Thor could be a name which would have been assigned to a member upon induction. Accompanied by approximately 50 photographs of society members and a small black book inscribed with names (which were published until 1971), the present lot provides a rare glimpse into the society which has been linked to many influential figures and leaders at Yale University and in this country.

Christie's. Important American Furniture, Folk Art, Silver & Chinese Export. 21 - 25 January 2010. New York, Rockefeller Plaza www.christies.com

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The 1872 ballot box belonging to Yale's secretive Skull and Bones society that is being offered for sale at Christie's. AP Photo/Christie's

NEW YORK, NY (AP).- A human skull that once apparently belonged to Yale's mysterious Skull and Bones society is being sold at auction.

Christie's in New York believes the skull was used as a ballot box around 1872. It has a hinge on top and is surrounded by crossbones.

Skull and Bones was founded in 1832. The elite society has closely guarded its members' names and its activities since the early 1970s. Publicly known members include both presidents Bush.

The purchaser also will get a black book with names and photographs of earlier members.

The auction is Jan. 22. The presale estimate is $10,000 to $20,000.

Fittingly, Christie's has agreed to keep the seller's name a secret. It describes the person only as a European art collector. Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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The 1872 ballot box belonging to Yale's secretive Skull and Bones society that is being offered for sale at Christie's New York City auction house. The ballot box, in the form of a skull and cross bones, is being sold on Jan. 22 for an estimated $10,000 to $20,000. AP Photo/Christie's.