Odds and quads

This 18-carat gold cigarette case belonged to Harry Price (1881-1948), a writer, amateur conjuror and ghost hunter who, in 1923, set up the National Laboratory of Psychical Research, in order "to investigate in a dispassionate manner and by purely scientific means every phase of psychic or alleged psychic phenomena".

September 22, 2011

The case is engraved on one side with the signatures of eminent 20th-century scientists and on the reverse with the names and signatures of mediums.

It was bequeathed to the University of London as part of the Harry Price Library of Magical Literature. This archive has been enhanced by later donations and consists of almost 13,000 items, including almanacs, incunabula and academic texts.

The collection is held in the humanities library at Senate House, London's first skyscraper, which turns 75 this year. The headquarters of the University of London, it was taken over by the Ministry of Information during the Second World War, and was the inspiration for the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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