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Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, December 12, 1926

Ministry of Finance,

Dear Robert,

I am now in a position to say what I can do re Egypt—of course barring accidents.See preceding letters beginning with November 22, 1926, and especially letter of December 4, 1926.

As it turns out, the second half of Jan. won’t do, as on Jan. 25 there assembles here the new Parliament, Lower and (for the first time since the War) Upper House, complete,The reconstructed Hungarian parliament was formally opened on January 29, 1927, by Miklós Horthy (1868–1957), who stated that “the happy consolidation of the country permits the reëstablishment of the system of two chambers which corresponds to the national tradition.” Le Temps, February 5, 1927. See Malbone W. Graham, Jr., “The Elections to the New Hungarian Parliament,” The American Political Science Review 21, no. 2 (May 1927): 381–88. and I must be here, as important points of policy may be settled just then.

The only possibility is therefore for me to go in time to be back here before Jan. 25—and as that means Bill’s holidays, I am venturing to suggest that you allow me to charge his expenses to you, in which case I’ll take him as well, and start Dec. 31. I’ll go via Trieste, which is much cheaper than via Marseilles, and be back in Bpest on Jan. 18.

I make this suggestion with some timidity, as it’s an expensive trip. For the two of us it will run up to something like one thousand dollars—possibly less, but not more. I can’t afford it myself, or I’d gladly do so, both for your sake and for the fun of the thing. If you get the stuff, of course you can charge the bill to the seller.

If I do go, Hayford Peirce will come along as well (at his own expense, of course) so you would have the benefit of his opinion of the things as well. His opinion is valuable, but he hasn’t had very much experience of dealers, and wouldn’t be able to advise you as to price.

If you still want me to go, plus Bill, please wire me at once, here, where I shall be until the 19th inst. Then I shall go to Antigny for Xmas, and if we do go to Egypt we’d start for Trieste on Dec. 29. Please also have one thousand dollars transferred to my A/c at the Westminster Bank, Place Vendome, Paris. I shall hope to hear from you before the end of this week, so that I may be able to let the Lloyd Triestino people know definitely about the accommodation which I have provisionally reserved for Dec. 31.

As to price, Elisina tells me (something I didn’t know when I last wrote) that a Paris dealer has suggested that he might find a purchaser of our chalice for £2,500.Approximately $11,500 in December 1926. However, everything depends on the quality of the objects, and I want to keep an open mind till I see them.

I’m writing to Kalebdjian to make sure his man has the things ready to see at Cairo.

Do you remember my writing to you last July about the serpentine relief at Heiligenkreuz?See letter of July 21, 1926. As I had no word from you about it, I spoke to Maclagan, and have now negotiated its purchase for the S. Ken. for £1,100. You’ll see it there when you next visit that establishment.The green porphyry (serpentine) medallion was acquired in early 1927 by the Victoria and Albert Museum (A1:1, 2-1927) from the Abbey of Heiligenkreuz in Austria. The medallion depicts the half-length figure of the Virgin represented in prayer with an inscription invoking her aid for Nikephoros Botaneiates. See M. H. Longhurst, “A Byzantine Disc for South Kensington,” The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 50, no. 287 (February 1927): 107–8.

I don’t know whether, through the cold and measured words of this letter, you feel the burning fire of excitement that is devouring me about this business?

With much love to you and Mildred,

Yrs ever
R. T.

Associated People: Hayford Peirce; William Royall Tyler
Associated Artworks: BZ.1955.18