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The idea of national treasure, like national epics and national anthems, is part of the language of Romantic nationalism, which arose in the late 18th century and 19th centuries. Nationalism is an ideology which supports the nation as the fundamental unit of human social life, which includes shared language, values and culture. Thus national treasure, part of the ideology of nationalism, is shared culture.
National treasure can be a shared cultural asset, which may or may not have monetary value; for example, a skilled banjo player would be a Living National Treasure. Or it may refer to a rare cultural object, such as the medieval manuscript Plan of St. Gall in Switzerland. The government of Japan designates the most famous of the nation's cultural properties as National Treasures of Japan. The National Treasures of Korea are a set of artifacts, sites, and buildings which are recognized by South Korea as having exceptional cultural value.
Notable national treasures
There are thousands of national treasures around the world. Listed here are samples of the different types of things that can be national treasure:
Examples of people who have been described as national treasures include the following:
- Certain countries officially designate individuals or groups as Living National Treasures. See, for example, Living National Treasures of Japan and Australian Living Treasures.
- American actress, comedienne, television presenter and producer Betty White, who has been working in television since 1939, is often referred to as a national treasure in the United States.
- Comedian, actor, author and director Stephen Fry, broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough (and in the late 20th century racing driver Stirling Moss) have in several high-brow non-industry-specific publications been referred to as United Kingdom national treasures.
- After the Brazilian Football team won the 1962 FIFA World Cup, wealthy European clubs offered massive fees to sign their young star player, Pelé, but the government of Brazil declared him an official national treasure to prevent him from being transferred out of the country.
- The late German humorist Vicco von Bülow alias Loriot had the status of a national treasure in Germany.
- The Fairy Queen locomotive in India.
- The Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights for the United States.
- Stonehenge in the United Kingdom
- Original katanas made by Japanese blacksmiths
- Chinese bronze tripod cauldrons (ding) dating back to the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BCE)
- Moon rock collected in the lunar space missions by NASA's Apollo missions
- The Constitution of Greece of 2001 declared that the Greek coastline is a national treasure (see Patras).
- The United States natural and cultural resources that collectively comprise the National Park System are considered to be a national treasure.
- In 1997, the United States Library of Congress recognized the song Truckin' by the rock band Grateful Dead as a national treasure of the United States.
- Andy Williams's voice was one described as a national treasure by U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
- National Treasures of Japan
- National Treasures of North Korea
- National Treasures of South Korea
- World Heritage Site
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-  Washington Times 06-05-12
- Motor Sport. "Stirling Moss at 80: the interview". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-04-21.
- Fordham, Mike (2009-10-21). "Sir Stirling Moss: The Knight of the Road | Influx Magazine | Influx Magazine". Influx.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-04-21.
- "Sir Stirling Moss: Still Stirling stuff - Features - Motoring". The Independent. 2007-11-27. Retrieved 2013-04-21.
- Stephen Fry gives some Quite Interesting answers Telegraph.co.uk 29-02-2008
- Stephen Fry biography Dave.uktv.co.uk
- Stephen Fry night BBC4 website
- Waldemayer, Winston (2009-01-28). "Short Sharp Science: Eye-burrowing worms, national treasures... and creationism". Newscientist.com. Retrieved 2013-04-21.
- Kendall, Paul (31 January 2009). "Sir David Attenborough: 'Man was given permission to exploit the natural world by the Bible'". The Daily Telegraph.
- "Margaret Thatcher, Richard Branson and Judi Dench picked as National Treasures". The Daily Telegraph. 18 September 2008.
- "Pelé (Edson Arantes do Nascimento) The King of football". FIFA.com. Retrieved 8 February 2011.
- "Germany mourns king of comedy Loriot". The Guardian. 2011-08-24. Retrieved 2014-02-15.
- "Obituary: German comedian Loriot, aka Vicco von Bülow, dies aged 87". http://100gf.wordpress.com/. 2011-08-25. Retrieved 2014-02-15.
- For example, Private Eye no. 1340 (17–30 May 2013), "National Treasures", p. 13, contains excerpts from newspaper reports which attach the status to Olivia Colman, Clare Balding, Graham Norton and (formerly) Stuart Hall.
- Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip. Jake Woodward, et al. Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2003, pg. 112.
- "'National treasure' Andy Williams dies of bladder cancer at age 84", http://www.foxnews.com, 2012-09-26