Birth of a Notion

Small tablet with relief profile of King Hammurabi with cuneiform signature

A few years ago, as you might (or might not) remember, a family member sent me and my sister on a fabulous trip to Ireland to do some family history research. Our dad came with us.  I wrote a series of stories on that trip.  On the day that comes after four you will see a curious comment about a glittering thing picked up from the ground outside of Dublin Castle. And that, my friends, was the Birth of a Notion.

It didn’t really sound like much, I hear you thinking. (That’s one of my superpowers. I didn’t want you to be unaware of it.  It’s a super power of limited utility, in that, I can only hear your thoughts when you are reading something I wrote. I know. It’s a stupid power. )

And, you’d be mostly pretty right. That little bit of discovery turned into an ongoing inside joke between the three of us, and by the end of the trip we were referring to this project as “The SHUSH Museum.”

I know, now you’re wondering where the heck all of this is going and wondering “What is the SHUSH Museum, and WHY do I care? “

Think back a few weeks, and you might recall I blathered on about a new project, coming to an Internet near you. That project would be a mailing on Saturdays, starting in January.  By some extreme set of coincidences, these two seemingly disparate projects are actually THE SAME PROJECT.

For more than two years, this quirky little project wouldn’t leave me alone. Between you and me, it’s been something of a bully, and it hasn’t particularly been forthcoming with comforting statements about what anyone is getting out of letting it be born. Because, this little notion required me to pull in the talents of people who were not me. I have recruited the finest photographers I know into this bully’s plans, and, on Saturday, all that work has found itself a home.

You’re kicking yourself for not signing up for this, aren’t you? Well, I mean, not literally. That’s physically beyond most people.  My superpower is picking up your internal monologue. I told you this whole SHUSH thing was kind of a bully.  Actually, I know this bit was more wishful thinking than superpower. Most of you aren’t that broken up about missing the debut posting of the SHUSH Museum.

The good news is that you can go take a look at things now. Get a better idea of what will be coming out on Saturdays.  If you still want to get it in your e-mail, you can also still sign-up.  If you want to just catch the items on the website each week, that’s also a good option, but, be warned. Each item will only be on exhibit for 5 weeks. Once they’re gone, they’re gone, and you’ll have missed the opportunity to explore the curious exhibits of the Society for Hoarders of the Unique, Significant and Historic (SHUSH).   Join us, won’t you? The surprises have just begun.

Signed Cuneiform Tablet of King Hammurabi (1810 BC -1750 BC)

Small tablet with relief profile of King Hammurabi with cuneiform signature This artifact, part of a series of cuneiform tablets produced near the end of the Sumerian civilization, depicts King Hammurabi, known primarily for his written code of laws, which defined specific punishments for specific crimes.

The code was one of the first that began with the assumption that the accused was innocent of the crime until evidence was presented and a verdict pronounced. A verdict of “guilty” would result in the specific punishment defined in the code.

This tablet was produced by the Sumerian Collectibles Company. Records are incomplete, however,  based upon the tablets that have survived, it is estimated that were 15 subjects produced. Subjects included rulers, warriors, deities and popular entertainers.

These items were produced for the wealthy elite, and are among the first items in recorded history specifically created to be collected. Often hand-numbered as a series, these items would have been displayed as marks of status.

This example, produced between 1785-1750 BC, is especially fine, as it bears the personal seal of the King himself.  The seal could only be used by the King himself, therefore this particular item is, in a sense, autographed. No other surviving examples have such a mark, so it is unclear how many were produced as “sealed” versions, but undoubtedly that number is small. This “signature” would naturally raise the value of the collectible immensely.

Visit the Gift Shop.