LEAKEY, LOUIS, and GOODALL, JANE VAN LAWICK.  BORN 1934.
Lot 5086
LEAKEY, LOUIS. 1903-1972, and GOODALL, JANE VAN LAWICK. BORN 1934.
Sold for US$ 19,200 inc. premium
Auction Details
LEAKEY, LOUIS, and GOODALL, JANE VAN LAWICK.  BORN 1934.
Lot Details
LEAKEY, LOUIS. 1903-1972, and GOODALL, JANE VAN LAWICK. BORN 1934.
ARCHIVE OF CORRESPONDENCE OF LEAKEY AND GOODALL, WITH EXAMPLES OF CHIMPANZEE TOOLS COLLECTED IN THE WILD.
1. 5 Typed Letters Signed (“Louis Leakey” and “L.S.B. Leakey”), 12 pp, 4to and legal folio, Nairobi, Kenya, February 2, 1959 to November 15, 1962, to Leighton Wilkie, on Coryndon Museum letterhead, leaves creased and moderately toned, some staple perforations to upper margins of earlier letters.
Louis Leakey, the foremost paleontologist and anthropologist of his day, believed that the study of primates in the wild could lead to important understandings of the ways of early man. Throughout the 1950s, he had sponsored smaller research projects in Africa, but it was not until the end of the decade, when he met a young British woman named Jane Goodall with a remarkable way with animals, that he devised the plan to establish long-term observation center in the Gombe Stream reservation in order to study the communities of chimpanzees living there.
Leighton Wilkie and his brothers manufactured machine tools in the Chicago area. Their professional work led them to an interest in the history of tool-making, and so they established the Wilkie Brothers Foundation (also called the Wilkie Foundation) to sponsor anthropological and other research around the globe.
Leakey’s idea to put Goodall in the field observing chimpanzees met with disdain from the scientific community. Goodall did not come from a scientific background and had little training outside what she’d received from Leakey. Additionally, the community looked with skepticism upon Leakey’s theory that anything productive about early man could be learned from observing chimpanzees. He was turned down by all the major funding sources, and appealed to the Wilkie Foundation as a last resort.
In the first letter here, Leakey asks Wilkie to read the proposal and, if he approves, fund the project. He describes his reasons in the proposal: “The chimpanzees which are to be studied are the only known natural group of these creatures which are living in relatively open country, instead of in forest. Their habitat conditions seem to be closely parallel to those which existed (so far as we can tell from the study of the fossil plant life and the insect life) during the lower Miocene in Kenya when Proconsul, Limnopithecus and other early ape-man ancestors flourished.” A copy of Wilkie’s letter agreeing to sponsor the project and lend the use of materials is also present.
Goodall was phenomenally successful as a researcher, making several significant discoveries regarding chimpanzee behavior, including the eating of meat and the making and use of tools. From November 15, 1962, Leakey writes: “I am sure you will be most interested to hear that she has, amongst other most important results, a great deal of evidence (which is covered by both still and movie photographs) which shows that chimpanzees, in wholly wild conditions, make deliberate tools for certain specific feeding purposes. This discovery, which is reported briefly in a scientific paper which will be published shortly by Jane Goodall, has caused anthropologists at a recent international meeting to alter our definition of ‘man.’”

2. 2 Autograph Letters Signed and 5 Typed Letters Signed (“Jane”), 10 pp, 4to, various places including New York, London, and Tanzania, November 22, 1970 to July 6, 1983, to Leighton Wilkie, many on letterhead of Gombe Stream Research Centre, some creasing and toning, a few leaves with tape residue on verso. * Single blade of grass, approximately 9 inches, together with single twig, approx. 9 inches, both affixed to larger 6½ by 17 inch sheet of cardboard, annotated by Goodall, “For Wilkie & L.S.B. Leakey,” additionally annotated (probably by Wilkie) “Chimpanzee tools for extracting ants from ant hills.” * “Nest Building Behavior in the Free Ranging Chimpanzee.” Offprint of Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences Vol. 102, article 2 (December 28., 1962): 455-467. In wraps. Inscribed on final blank, “With compliments / Jane Goodall,” and additionally annotated on p 464. Some tape residue to final blank. * “Feeding Behavior of Wild Chimpanzees.” Offprint from Symposium of the Zoological Society of London No. 10 (August 1963): 39-47. Original wraps.
Jane Goodall continued to correspond with Leighton Wilkie long after her Research Centre was well established, and this series of warm letters over a period of 13 years reveals her commitment to her subject as well as her loyalty to the man who made it all possible. From December 11, 1979, she writes: “I hope you received your copy of the May issue of the National Geographic? With the tale of warfare and cannibalism among the chimps? They do become more like us all the time! Anyway, since then, things have become more peaceful in the chimpanzee world … Passion and Pom, the two ‘murderesses,’ having killed every tiny baby they could lay hands on for 4 years, now each have their own babies. Both are excellent mothers … Now that the infant killing has stopped, there is a baby boom. 11 infants, all thriving, all growing up at the same time. It is really fascinating. A much nicer chapter in Gombe’s history has opened. No more warfare—the ‘enemy’ has been annihilated, so they do not need to fight any more. The only problem, for the males, was that they had no sexual partners—virtually all their females were lactating at the beginning of the year. As I predicted, they have set about putting matters right—three charming young females are now seen roaming with them from time to time!” Of particular interest are the Chimpanzee tools collected by Goodall and forwarded to Wilkie by Leakey.
Together with printed ephemera relating to Goodall’s career.
See illustration.
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