BROADCASTING - REX PALMER
Lot 374
BROADCASTING and RECORDING - REX PALMER
Sold for £1,080 (US$ 1,792) inc. premium
Lot Details
BROADCASTING and RECORDING - REX PALMER
Papers of Rex Palmer, principally relating to his career with the Royal Flying Corps, as an original member of the British Broadcasting Corporation, and as recording supervisor with His Master's Voice; the collection including autograph letters etc by Edward Elgar (see below), Lowell Thomas (see below), Edmund Blunden (calligraphic autograph manuscript of his epithalamium 'The Victor' and a later autograph letter reminiscing about Great War contemporaries, including Sassoon who has had "a cheerful 80th birthday & remains as much as ever", but wishing "they'd stop these miscellaneous wars, especially with even more dreadful weapons"), Kirsten Flagstad (two fine photographs, signed and inscribed in July 1936, one "in remembrance of a very pleasant recording in Copenhagen"), Pablo Casals, Sir Thomas Beecham (fine photograph signed), Yehudi Menhuin (1933 and 1956, the first a postcard written on holiday soon after his famous recording with Elgar), Fritz Kreisler (large signed photograph), Luisa Tetrazzini, Leonard Cheshire, Gracie Fields (signed photograph with group of snapshots), Basil Cameron, and others; the collection also comprising: several autograph albums kept by his wife Bee Darling (with a photograph of Charles Laughton signing one of them); a Festival of Britain album; a collection of inscribed books by, among others, Edmund Blunden (Undertones of War), Lord Reith (Wearing Spurs with slip inscribed to Palmer as "one of the most esteemed and most popular of the early pioneers of broadcasting"), his HMV colleague Fred Gaisberg, Felix Weingartner, Sybil Thorndike and others; papers of his wife Bee Darling's family (including early 19th century letters by members of the Rawson family), etc., some dust-staining and minor wear, including to the books, which are sold not subject to return, the Kreisler photograph fraying, that of Lowell Thomas trimmed

Footnotes

  • Rex Palmer ('Uncle Rex') was one of the first employees of the British Broadcasting Corporation, hailed on his departure in 1929 by the Evening News as "one of the original five members of the BBC": "He was in fact, the first man appointed by Sir John, then Mr, J.C.W. Reith, in November, 1922. He was the first announcer, the first director of the London Station, 2LO, the first director of the Daventry station, 5XX, the first man to 'book' artists and establish a regular booking system" (8 May 1929). The Evening Standard described him "the most famous announcer the BBC has ever had" (8 May 1929). Included in the lot is the album presented to him on his departure, signed by his BBC colleagues, headed by Reith, with the accompanying silver cigar box engraved with his initials and 'B.B.C. 1923-1929'.

    He left the BBC to join the Gramophone Company (His Master's Voice). While at HMV he helped Fred Gaisburg supervise the celebrated recordings made by Elgar at the end of his life, and as International Recording Manager supervised the recordings made in Europe with Kirsten Flagstad and others. Included in the lot are four autograph letters and cards by Sir Edward Elgar, discussing their recordings, running from 3 October 1932 to 21 August 1933, three with Rex-themed newspaper cuttings jocularly attached: "The above heading ['Rex At Sea Again'] confronted me in the D: Mail - However it does not refer to our dates: I have noted Friday morning. 10 o'C for the recording: I will expect you at the Langham. On another sheet I am sending suggestions for an improvement in the cuts...".

    Before joining the BBC he had served in the Royal Flying Corps with Allenby in Palestine (rejoining the RAF in the Second World War and rising to the rank of Wing Commander). In this capacity he had flown the American journalist and broadcaster Lowell Thomas, who did much to create the legend of 'Lawrence of Arabia'. The collection includes a series of letters by Thomas beginning in 1955, when they re-established contact (soon after publication of Richard Aldington's debunking biography of Lawrence): "Your name brings back many exciting and delightful memories. What a chain of events followed that day I flew around with you in Egypt! Including the present Aldington hullabaloo... It seems to me that Aldington has done the sort of spiteful job that any writer, with venom in his system, could do to any distinguished man... Beaverbrook made a remark that I thought contained considerable sense. Said he: 'No really great man ever escapes vicious attack. The chances are this will add to Lawrence's stature'... So far as I am concerned, as the so-called 'originator of the Lawrence hoax', I got my material from Allenby, Chetwode, Bartholomew, Bulfin, Clayton, Hogarth, Wavell, Emir Feisal, and other high brass. And, in addition to the sketchy, but eloquent, outline of Lawrence's activities that I obtained from that list of notables, I got at least 80% of my material from the group of picked Britishers who were with Lawrence in the Hedjaz. They were not fooled about anything. It was all first-hand information that they had. No charlatan could get away with any tricks in that bizarre side-show". Also included is a photograph of the two in Palmer's RE8 (Thomas operating his camera), inscribed "To my friend Capt Rex Palmer with pleasant remembrances of the day we were 'With Allenby In Palestine' Lowell Thomas" (trimmed), and several inscribed books (one "To Colonel Rex Palmer - Who was one of Allenby's aerial knights in 'The Last Crusade'. From one who flew with him"). See illustration at page 115.
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