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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, November 7, 1948


So very glad to get your letter of the 27th Oct.

To my mind, you’ve hit on the right formula for cataloguing the D.O. coins: collaboration with the B. M.British Museum, London. I think BellingerAlfred R. Bellinger (1893–1978), an American classicist and numismatist and professor of Latin Literature at Yale University. would be very useful in this connexion. But I’d be careful not to give him or anyone undivided responsibility for the job.Bellinger would collaborate with Philip Grierson on the three volumes (in five) of the Catalogue of the Byzantine Coins in the Dumbarton Oaks Collection and in the Whittemore Collection (Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies, Trustees for Harvard University, 1966–1973). Every scholar has his pet ideas; and almost every one is capable of ignoring—or even suppressing—facts that don’t fit in with those pet ideas, however important and illuminating such facts may be. The B. M. has a tradition, a standard, and a method in such matters that constitute the best guarantee to be found, I believe. If they can be brought into some plan of campaign acceptable to you, I don’t think you could do better.

Here, the two men who might be considered are BabelonJean Babelon (1889–1978), a French librarian, historian, and numismatist, and director of the Département des Monnaies, Médailles et Antiques at the Cabinet des Médailles, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, between 1937 and 1961. & Lafaurie.Jean Laufurie (1914–2008), a French numismatist, who, beginning in 1944, was an assistant curator in the Département des Monnaies, Médailles et Antiques at the Cabinet des Médailles, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. But neither of them are first rate on Byz.; and Babelon, for all his excellent qualities, is woefully and impenitently inaccurate, I went to see him yesterday & had a talk with him—without mentioning D. O. or the coins, which confirmed me fully in this opinion. However, I would add that the Cab. Méd.Cabinet des Médailles, a museum department (Département des Monnaies, Médailles et Antiques) of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. coins ought to be carefully looked at in connexion with your catalogue. Also, it now contains the BeisteguiCarlos de Beistegui (1863–1953), a Mexican-born heir of a silver-mining fortune and collector who was a patron of French museums and cultural institutions. coll. (acquired in 1944) which includes superb medals and coins of the earlier Byz. periods, and which the B. M.British Museum, London. people probably haven’t yet had occasion to study.

I haven’t mentioned the purchase of the H. P.Hayford Peirce. coinsDumbarton Oaks acquired the coin collection of Hayford Peirce in 1948. by D. O. to anyone, outside the family. What a marvel T. W.Thomas Whittemore. is! Of course he can go on not allowing his own coinsThomas Whittemore had deposited his collection of coins and medals at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, in recognition of which Harvard offered him the honorary position of keeper of Byzantine Coins and Seals, beginning in 1933. He bequeathed this collection to Harvard University in 1950, specifying that it must retain its separate identity and remain at the Fogg Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts. to be seen, and saying that they’re . . . etc. Qui vivra, verra.“What will be, will be.”

No doubt it would do ErmolovBoris Nicolaevich Ermolov (Ermoloff), a Russian expatriate and longtime friend of Thomas Whittemore. He was the librarian of the Byzantine Institute in Paris. a deal of good to go over to D. O. C’est une petite nature;“This is a weak type.” but he’s useful, and I think it would be a good thing to have him in touch.

Thank Heaven PollyPolly Brown Peirce, Hayford Peirce’s former wife. gave you the miniature mosaicBZ.1947.24. before she married the manPolly Brown Peirce married Theodore Leavitt on September 16, 1948. who runs a theatre!The Bar Harbor Playhouse, Bar Harbor, Maine, managed by the actor, director, and producer Theodore Leavitt. I doubt whether, had the theatre been in the foreground when that matter was being considered, there would have been any question of a gift.

Bill found a superb little Spanish Romanesque relief,This sculpture has not been identified. in honey-coloured marble of the Christ in Majesty, in an obscure shop the other day, & got it for next to nothing. It’s in perfect condition. Lovely patina. Such things still happen in this place.

Much love to you and Robert, dearest Mildred,

Your GrowlerMildred Barnes Bliss’s nickname for Royall Tyler.

Associated Artworks: BZ.1947.24