The remaining Tutankhamun papers of Howard Carter provided the biggest draw at Bonhams' Books & Manuscripts auction today (June 12).
The collection, which has remained with Carter's family since his death in 1939, featured a vast selection of ephemera relating to the archaeologist's discovery of the Tutankhamun burial site. Carter's discovery remains the best preserved pharoah tomb ever unearthed.
Highlighting the collection was a series of autographed typed drafts from Carter's book, The Tomb of Tutankhamun, which to this day stands as his definitive work on the subject. Carter retired from archaeology shortly after the excavation, having never published a full scientific report. The drafts, written with Carter's characteristic "brusqueness, impatience and off-putting manner", provide a fascinating insight into his discovery.
Alongside the drafts were a series of Carter's personal photographs from the dig site, the majority of which were sent to his mother to record his experiences. Other items from the excavation included a pair of Thermos flasks, which were believed to have been used during the trip, and a 100 foot leather-cased measuring tape.
Following his 1922 discovery, Carter shot to worldwide fame and regularly received correspondence from devoted fans. Among these letters were those from "a fair number of eccentric or deranged correspondents", including a series from a Margit Labouchere, who mysteriously warned Carter: "...Tot ench Amon is not in his tomb... Nobody is allowed to open the coffin. Listen to your inward voice..."
The archaeologist's letters were included in the sale along with his personal correspondence case. The entire collection sold for £109,250 ($169,573), just above its low estimate of £100,000.
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