So to speak. I originally posted the image above as a contest to guess what it is:
It's certainly a representation of a skull. For what purpose? A functional item, or an objet d'art? If it's art, of what era/style? Jewelry - from when? Toy/game - which one? European, American, Asian, Incan? Your grade will be based 1/3 on era (century), 1/3 on geography (continent) and 1/3 on use/purpose.But it turned out to be too easy. Ponder the photo for a moment to see what you would have guessed, then look beneath the fold for the answer...
Answer tomorrow, with source credits.
The first correct answer arrived within about ten minutes, from ChiMusicGuy:
"Lead postage "cancel" stamp. U.S. (North American), 19th century. On exhibit at the Smithsonian. Way cooler than today's rubber stamps, but also more toxic."The Smithsonian correctly describes this as a "fancy cancel" handstamp. You can see some nice examples at this philatelic retail site (you will also notice that such cancels can render otherwise unremarkable stamps rather pricey).
I had thought that most fancy cancel handstamps were made of cork; this one was apparently crafted of lead. From the looks of it, it originally was a skull and crossbones, though the latter seem to have been smooshed underneath by repeated use.
An example of a more conventional handstamp is this one, recovered from the sunken USS Oklahoma.
p.s. - I intentionally mislabelled the url of the photo with the words "dungeons dragons figure" in an effort to mislead those who would "cheat" by mousing over the image. Didn't work.