The world witnessed the passing of another millennium (a period of one thousand years) on the eve of December 31, 1999. Nowhere was this milestone more celebrated or speculated about than in the United States, where these souvenirs were sold.
The coming of the millennium created a manufacturing and buying frenzy. Many believed that our computers would crash, that the electricity would go out and that there would be a shortage of food and water. Manufacturers worked to create emergency supplies while computer specialists hunted the elusive "millennium bug." Retail stores filled their shelves with eye-catching products aimed at helping people commemorate this momentous event and to increase store sales.
Time capsules, whether purchased or homemade, were a particularly popular item. Thousands of people all over the world gathered bits of their cultural history, placed them in Tupperware containers, Mason jars, cookie tins, pop bottles or plastic bags, and buried them. Part of the thrill in participating in this ritual was speculating about what others would think of the contents when the capsules were discovered. Likewise, burying time capsules provided some of these people with a sense of immortality.
The time capsule pictured above is a trademark of Circa 2K Gifts, Inc. of Dallas, Texas, but was made in China. The capsule came with an instruction booklet, stickers, and plastic sleeves for mementos at a cost of about $10.00. More expensive models could also be found in catalogs and on the Internet, with some selling for as much as $1000.00.
The water globe depicts what many feared would happen during the millennium--a computer crashing. Tiny plastic 2s and Os float in the water when the globe is shaken. These globes were created by At Home International, also made in China.
The true millennium arrived on January 1, 2001, due to the fact that when the modern-day calendar was established there was no concept of zero; therefore, it began at 1 B.C.
These millennium souvenirs are in the collections of the Kansas Museum of History, They were collected specifically to commemorate the millennium, along with party plates, cups, napkins, t-shirts, stuffed animals, countdown clocks and watches, and other items.
Entry: Millennium Souvenirs
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: November 1999
Date Modified: December 2014
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.