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Royall Tyler to Mildred Barnes Bliss, June 28, 1938


Just a message, dearest Mildred, before taking the train to Geneva. I’ve spoken by phone with Elisina—progress “uninterrupted”Elisina Tyler had suffered “apolplexy,” probably a stroke, in May 1938. See also letters of June 18, 1938; July 2, 1938; July 10, 1938; July 13, 1938; and July 29, 1938.—but ah, what a blow when I heard her voice! The difference in timbre—I’m badly frightened, I’ll own it to you. She articulates all right—it’s the timbre, and you know how characteristic and tell-tale that is. She intends, with doctor’s approval, to start next Monday July 4 and come up to Antigny by slow stages, taking some 4 days to do it. I hope to be able to go to Antigny for a week end as soon as she gets there.

KELEK This morn, I went with Kelek. to the Crédit Lyonnais, and saw his Byz. blue (saphire [sic] blue) glass ewer,This molded blue glass ewer has not been identified. which he says was found at the same place as your purple bowl.BZ.1938.22. It is a wonder, absolutely intact. It is signed (this Kelek doesn’t seem to realise and I didn’t draw his attention to it: he only knows there’s an inscription) ЄNNIION ЄΠOIЄI. ЄNNIION must be the maker’s name. ЄΠOIЄI = FECIT.“Made by.” Of course Kelek wants a horrible price. He said $50,000. I made a gesture of despair, whereupon he said “Well, I’d let it go for $35,000, but I can’t start at that price, because Mr. Bliss always cuts me down, whatever price I mention.”

In the same safe he has a holy wonder of an Egypt-Byz. pottery vaseBZ.1939.31. (a big jug, really), with bonshommes“Men.” and vines in relief, with a buff-creamy glase with touches of green (for the leaves) and dark sang-de-boeuf“Ox blood.” or aubergine (for the grapes). Not quite intact—lip damaged and handle gone, but body perfectly preserved, and, I regret to say, a wonder of wonders, as colour and plastically. All Copto-Byz. art in it. The old rascal asks $25,000 for it.

He’ll send you photos and dimensions of both these pieces, and may the Lord be merciful unto you. They are treasures, and the prices are outrageous.

HIRSCH.Jacob Hirsch (1874–1955), a German-Swiss numismatist, archaeologist, and antiquities dealer. He says he’ll try and get information on the RiemenschneiderHC.S.1937.006.(W).—he has some already and thinks he can secure more—and send to you. I told him you wanted it because you were forming dossiers on each of your objects with a view to a catalogue.

For the little gold circular cover,BZ.1945.2. The Blisses did not acquire this capsa in 1938, but Dumbarton Oaks acquired the piece in 1945. with Baptism scene, which we saw in N.Y., he wants $600 (“puisque c’est toi”).“Because it’s you.” I think I’d get it.

He showed me, and I told him to send you a squeegee of, a superb gold medallion of HonoriusThis gold medallion of Honorius has not been identified. (early V cent) struck at Ravenna, which belonged (H. says) to Louis de Sartiges,Vicomte Louis de Sartiges (1859–1924), a French politician, diplomat, and collector. all of whose coins H. has bought. He wants $3,000 (“pour toi”).“For you.” He says he originally sold it to Sartiges for $4000, but got it back after S.’s death at a price in francs allowing him to sell for $3000. It’s a superb one, very like that in the C.D.M., and I know of none other. Not very dear.

KALEB. About the lamb tapestry,This tapestry has not been identified. I confess to my shame that I had completely forgotten that Hayford had bought it. Kaleb has some analogous pieces, but small, of which he is sending you photos. Not important. K’s brotherHagop Kalebdjian. had just returned from Egypt, where, at Khawam’sKhawam Brothers, an antiquities business that was founded in Cairo in 1862 by Sélim Khawam. at Cairo, he saw the objects of which photos and descriptions enclosed.These photographs and documents are retained in the Tyler Papers (HUGFP 38.6) at the Harvard University Archives. KhawamProbably one of the sons of Sélim Khawam: Jean, Amin, Fernand, and Joseph. is coming to Europe in July, and I’ve told Kb.Garbis Kalebdjian. to tell him to bring them, so that I may see. They look rip-snorters, all of them. The braceletsBZ.1938.64–65. with 5 coins each of Phocas († 610), and the ravishing necklaceBZ.1938.67. (observe the danglums in forms of guinea-fowl, vases, etc) every bit as fine as the other, with the 2 lions, for which £700 is asked, while only £450 for the first lot. They look extremely fine. When they’re here, I’ll examine them. I told Kaleb to tell Khawam that he might possibly find a client for them, tout en faisant les réserves les plus formelles quant aux prix.“While making more formal reservations regarding the prices.” The lion braceletBZ.1938.66. is IVe, I think, or Ve at latest. Weight not given, but Kaleb’s brother,Garbis Kalebdjian. who is not an eagle “thinks” they are not solid gold. These are things of a sort that is represented in the Morgan Coll.,J. P. Morgan (1837–1913) gave several gold bracelets and necklaces to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, including a third-century bracelet with gold and glass paste, acc. no. 17.192.259. in the Antiquarium in Berlin,The Antikensammlung Berlin, which partly is housed in the Altes Museum. Small objects were initially housed in the Antiquarium room. and damit Schluss.“To an end.” They’d look in their element at the Oaks.

Kaleb was anxious to know if you like the Charlieu lamb.BZ.1938.35. He says that 3 days after he had sent it off to you, he had a call from a French customer who had seen it and had come to make an offer, and who was distracted with grief when he heard it had gone. Well he may have been. That’s one of the best bits of luck we’ve had.

Well, here’s my little news-letter.

Fondest love, dearest Mildred, to both of you.


R. T.

I’ll report further on the KhawamKhawam Brothers, an antiquities business that was founded in Cairo in 1862 by Sélim Khawam. jewels.BZ.1938.64–65, BZ.1938.66, and BZ.1938.67.

I assume that Robert will deal direct with Kalek and Hirsch,Jacob Hirsch (1874–1955), a German-Swiss numismatist, archaeologist, and antiquities dealer. s’il y a lieu.“If appropriate.”

Kaleb says he’d be very glad to negociate the jewels, if you want them, just taking a commission.

Associated Things: Kalebdjian Frères