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Robert Woods Bliss to Royall Tyler, September 15, 1939

Added to in longhandThe additions in longhand were not recorded on this copy. & mailed Oct. 5/39

September 15, 1939

Via airmail

Royall Tyler, Esq.

c/o The League of Nations

Geneva, Switzerland

Dear Royall:

The days slip so rapidly by that I am ashamed to see how many letters I have received from you without having written, though many have been formed in my mind.

There is so much to write about that I hardly know where to begin, but think it best to start with the Kaleb matters; and regarding that there is not a great deal to say because most of it has been covered in your exchange of cables.

I want to say, however, that in cabling funds to you in London, I added to the prices of the bronzesBZ.1939.14.1–25. £100 and to the price of the textileBZ.1939.13. £25, thinking that you would probably need some funds on hand for possible immediate eventualities.

Your letters with details regarding the bronzes and textiles came with astounding rapidity: several took only four days to reach here. But I suppose now that airmail service between France and Geneva is no longer existing, this will not reach you quite so promptly—though more rapidly than if it were sent by steamer.

We are really distressed that the things did not get off before the holocaust burst. Your cablegram of the 12th puzzles me somewhat because I really do not see why LarancherayeDe La Rancheraye et Cie., a shipping company in Paris. cannot forward the things in an American vessel, and I see no reason why ships under our flag should not carry merchandise as well as passengers across the Atlantic. However, we shall have to bide our time, and I know that you are doing what is possible—as always. It seems to me much better to try to have the things come over to America rather than leaving them precariously somewhere in France, so I hope there will be an opportunity soon for their shipment. We are very grateful to you for having negotiated this matter and are naturally very eager to see the things.

I cannot now recall whether I wrote you that we acquired the Byzantine manuscriptBZ.1939.12. at Sotheby’s. I sent a wire to the ship to tell you this but do not know whether it reached you. I have a feeling that you may have written from the steamer, but the letter never reached us. The first word we had was the airmail letter written in Paris on July 24th telling us about Kaleb's things. We have not yet seen it, of course, but from what Mrs. ClarkEthel B. Clark, the Blisses’ librarian at Dumbarton Oaks and later keeper of rare books at the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection. has written, I think we have acquired something that will be a real addition to the Library, though not a great book. It should be of use and interest to students and should prove to have been a good purchase.

The bronzesBZ.1939.14.1–25. and textileBZ.1939.13. are covered by our ordinary insurance, but I have not as yet taken out war risk insurance. The premium is so fantastic at present that I have a feeling we might just as well take the risk ourselves as to gamble with the insurance people. For the present, at least, it seems to me that shipment on an American vessel is fairly safe.

Now for your letter of August 21st about old F. If he was so badly shaken when you saw him, what must the poor old thing be now! Of course, what he has been working onGerman ivories. for some time is now all finished.

Judging from a letter I had a few days ago from Bill, he has communicated with you his desire to find some job in connection with war work. I at once wrote to Pierrepont Moffat,Jay Pierrepont Moffat (1896–1943), an American diplomat, historian, and statesman who was with the U.S. State Department in a variety of posts between 1917 and 1943, later becoming ambassador to Canada. from whom I received a letter today saying that he was much interested to know that Bill would like to have a job and regretting that the State Department is not as yet increasing its staff. Full note has been made of Bill’s desire and his qualifications, and the Department will certainly seize the opportunity to get such a useful adjunct as Bill would be if it begins to augment its personnel. My first impulse was to write to TruelleJacques Truelle (1880–1946), a French diplomat who at the time was counselor of the French embassy in Washington, D.C. at the French Embassy and Victor MalletSir Victor Alexander Louis Mallet (1893–1969), a British diplomat who at the time was chargé d’affaires of the British embassy in Washington, D.C. at the British Embassy about Bill; but after thinking the matter over more thoroughly, I wrote him that it was my feeling that his place was with his own people and that if the Department had nothing to offer him at present and if there didn’t seem to be an opening with some American organization, that I hoped he would go ahead with his original plans and start his studies at Cambridge. You will be interested, I think, from the enclosed copy of the letter from MoffatThis letter has not been located. to see that he has the same idea without my having mentioned it in my letter to him. I have written Bill to this effect and hope that he will fall in with my suggestion. So much may develop in the coming months, the possibility for eventual usefulness with the Americans is so great that I feel it is better for him not to tie himself up now with English or French interests. I hope, too, that you may view Bill’s problem in that same light.

We shall probably leave here the end of the month, I think either the 28th or the 29th, so that you had best send written communications to us at Washington after receipt of this. By the way, I notice in cabling us here you have used the cable address “Milrobin”, which is the cable address of the Dumbarton Oaks Library. Our personal cable address, both at Washington and Santa Barbara, is “Milrob”. However, your messages have all reached us without delay.

It is now time for me to end the preliminary canter [sic] on this letter, but I shall be adding to it before it goes into the post.


Associated People: William Royall Tyler
Associated Things: Kalebdjian Frères
Associated Artworks: BZ.1939.12; BZ.1939.13; BZ.1939.14.1–25