Crystal Ball on Silver Stand

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Crystal Ball on Silver Stand at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Credit: Courtesy Penn Museum

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Fans of Harry Potter, wizards and other mystical beings will wonder at this real crystal ball at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. An ornamental treasure of the Imperial palace of Bejiing, this crystal sphere was said to have been a favorite possession of the Empress Dowager (1836-1908). The crystal was formed through years on constant rotation in a semi-cylindrical container filled with emery, garnet powder and water. The flawless 49-pound sphere is believed to be the second largest in the world. While you can’t see the future in it, it is a window into the past.