Sunday, March 15, 2009

Howard Carter's Egypt notes to net £4,000

This Is London

Archives relating to great discoveries in ancient Egypt, including the tomb of Tutankhamun, are to go to auction.

The cache of letters and photos collected by Egyptologist Rex Engelbach could sell for up to £4,000 at Bonhams in Mayfair later this month.

It includes letters from Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter, who uncovered the tomb of the boy pharaoh in 1922.

The Bonhams sale is on 31st March 2009: Sale 16779 - India and Beyond, Antiquities, Greece and the Near East, 31 Mar 2009, New Bond Street:

Lot No: 167
Papers of Rex Engelbach
Papers and photographs of the Egyptologist Rex Engelbach, comprising:

(i) Letters to Engelbach by Lord Carnarvon (22 March 1921 - "I heard the latest news from Luxor when Carter arrived here yesterday, he told me you would be kind enough to look after the tomb - please accept my best thanks - I hope one will find something. I had hoped to have had a little private conversation with you at Luxor & therefore I hope what I am going to write you will treat as quite confidential... We shall then have to find a new 'Master Digger' & I have hear rumour that Mr Brunton might like to take it on. I would be no party to taking him away from Petrie if he wanted to keep him... but I should like to know what you think of him..."), Howard Carter ("...I am pleased you have managed to reconstruct the wee marquee. I failed to put it together. There is a small gilt tone which belongs to it - Rather like a box, which had (originally) a feather cushion on top, but which was completely destroyed by insects..."), Sir Aurel Stein (two autograph letters - "I have often thought back with gratitude to all you did to make my 'globe-trotting' tour profitable in an archaeological way. Those were glorious days spent between Kala Siman in the North and Deir Sita in the South with ruins of all sorts to provide archaeological 'feasts for the eye', as the Indian expression has it. I took a considerable number of photos at sites which had remained beyond the area of the Princeton Univ. expedition's operations..."), Rudyard Kipling ("...I greatly want to see the new treasures of the museum: and with whom could I see them better than with you?..."), Flinders Petrie, under whom Engelbach had trained (series, including one written while excavating at Gaza - "I am now hard at it, clearing up all the flow of pots & bronzes that comes in, typing, & drawing all new types; beside that doing much of the field plans, & the arrangement of the work. My wife does all the book-keeping & pay, so with 300 people slogging away we are kept pretty busy. Our five helpers each take a part of the superintendence. My girl is an omnium, does the best inking of drawings, doctors all the damaged folk, & takes turns at holding the diggers when other people are off..."), Carter's assistant Richard Bethell, George Reisner ("...I am deeply grateful for your intermediation with the Egyptian Army Air Force in securing for us the beautiful photographic mosaic of the Gaza Necropolis..."), Somers Clarke (long illustrated letter about their Egyptian Masonry), the Crown Prince of Sweden (series, about "acquiring duplicates for the Egyptian Museum for the Egyptian Museum in Stockholm out of the store rooms of the Egyptian State Collections" [for which Engelbach was made a Knight of the Polar Star]), P.G. Elgood, Dorothy Mackay, S.R.K. Glanville, General C.W. Spinks ("...glad everything went well with the Royal nocturnal body snatching..."), Enoch E. Peterson, J.I. Craig, Sir Alan Gardiner (series), Percy Newberry, Battiscombe Gunn (series), H.V. Morton (2), and others; together with a series of 16 letters by Engelbach to his wife Nancy ("...I took Ibrahim over to the Tombs of the Kings yesterday and saw Carter. He tells me the Times copyright is still on. They all leave in about a week as the steamboat is to arrive tomorrow. Carter tells me that Derry is to have the examination of Tut. I am glad as I cannot stick Elliot-Smith...")

(ii) Photographs, including a series of snapshots taken in late in 1922 and early 1923 of the comings and goings around the tomb of Tutankhamun ("Tut's tomb valley of Kings Luxor Rex's back". "Gold Coffin of Tut Amkh Amun lying on sarcophagus", "Carrying box from Tomb of Tutankh Amun", "Luxor 1922 Lord Carnarvon leaving Tomb of Tutankhamun", "Rex & M. Lacan at Tut's Tomb", Engelbach standing outside the tomb, etc.); together with photographs of the burial chamber of Queen Hetepheres at Gaza as first found, of the Cairo Museum staff, the Unfinished Obelisk as discovered by Engelbach at Aswan in 1922, and much else

(iii) Articles, papers and other documents, including a revised typescript of 'Tutankhamun's Tomb: An Account of its Discovery' ("...Carnarvon arrived on November 23rd, with his daughter, then Lady Evelyn Herbert, and the tomb was actually opened when I was away for the night at Qena...This was, strictly speaking, irregular..."), list of books in his library, various certificates of award for foreign honours, royalty statement for his Ancient Egyptian Masonry, etc.

Estimate: £2,000 - 4,000


ShalMayan said...

The snipets from these letters from these marvelously, interesting people from our past are priceless!

I cannot imagine that their words and photographs will sell for only 4000.

I look forward to hearing from anyone who knows the final price of the sale (here on this thread).

When *I* read the notes all I could think of was...

"Wonderful things..."


Andie said...

I went back to the Bonham's site to see if there was an update after the sale had ended and unfortunately the selling price for this lot was not listed. I don't know if this didn't make its reserver or if the information was witheld for some other reason. Sorry!