Howard Carter archive, as listed on the 2 receipts; including a large collection of letters, photographs, several volumes of typed and manuscript notes, a suitcase, tape measure, thermos flasks, textile etc.
Lot 39
CARTER (HOWARD) The remaining papers of Howard Carter, retained by the Carter family, comprising autograph drafts of his account of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, lecture notes on the discovery, incoming correspondence, including letters from fellow Egyptologists and copies of outgoing letters, photographs, equipment used by him as an archaeologist, and material relating to his own death and funerary rites
Sold for £109,250 (US$ 181,841) inc. premium
Lot Details
The remaining papers of Howard Carter, retained by the Carter family, comprising autograph drafts of his account of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, lecture notes on the discovery, incoming correspondence, including letters from fellow Egyptologists and copies of outgoing letters, photographs, equipment used by him as an archaeologist, and material relating to his own death and funerary rites; the archive comprising:
(i) Binder holding autograph and typed drafts for Volume III of The Tomb of Tut.ankh.Amen (1933), comprising: (a) [Chapter 3] typescript with autograph revisions headed "The Annexe", opening: "Strange and beautiful objects call for wonder, conjecture and fair words – but are they not all signs of the thought and progress of the Age to which they belong? Facts, too, have also their reflexion", 9 pages; (b) [Chapter 4] autograph draft headed "The Objects found in the Annexe", on the facing page Carter has sketched in pencil a ground-plan of Tutankhamun's tomb, showing the Descending steps, Descending Passage, Antechamber, Annexe, Burial Chamber and Treasury, with, above it, a sketch showing putative additional chambers balancing the Annexe and Treasury; the text, written in fountain pen with occasional additions in pencil, opening: "In the preceding chapter I have endeavoured to describe the state in which we found the Annexe...", followed by Part I "Objects not traditionally belonging to the Annexe – A Store Room" (opening: "Topmost of all this mass of material and stretching from side to side of the chamber...") and Part II, "The Contents Proper of the Annexe – A Store Room" (opening: "The oils, fats, unguents and wines, fruits and foodstuffs, were, I believe, the contents proper of the Annexe..."), 35 pages of autograph draft concluding with 3 pages of typescript bearing autograph revisions; (c) [Chapter 5] autograph draft headed "The Main Cause of Deterioration and Chemical Changes Among the Objects in the Tomb", opening: "Before concluding this account of the discovery, it would not be out of place to say a few words concerning the state in which we found the objects in the tomb...", 14 pages; (d) Typescript [publication as yet untraced] with often extensive autograph revisions and additions, opening: "There can be little doubt that Tutankhamen belonged to a period when Egyptian art had reached a very high standard of excellence.." and discussing the state of ancient Egyptian art in general, as exemplified by the tomb, including a discussion of Tutankhamun's mask itself: "The mask and the solid gold coffin, that enclosed Tutankhamen's mummy, testify that the artistic handicrafts had reached a high degree of perfection at this period of the New Empire. The Theban goldsmiths must have attained complete mastery of their craft, to carry out such elaborate work within the short period (a few months) intervening between the death and the burial of the king. To realize fully the extent of their work, carried out in so short a time, we must take into consideration not only the preparation, beating, modelling and chasing of the gold, but the subordinate art of incrustation with coloured natural stones, glass and faience, with which both the coffin and mask were embellished. Of this ancillary art of incrustation, the second coffin of Tutankhamen is a wonderful specimen..."; to this discussion of the art of the goldsmiths and jewellers of Thebes, Carter has added in manuscript: "They are influenced by a traditional religious conception: from the moment death has taken place, the deceased is regarded as of Osiris, and it becomes a condition of primary importance that the deceased should be in the image of that deity. The face may remain a portrait, but the body and accessories must represent the form and attributes of the god... The difference one feels is this: whilst the art belonging to the Reign of Tutankhamen retains the ancient traditions, it has in addition an intimate charm and sense of movement – one is almost tempted to say, a modern charm – characteristic of itself", 8 pages; 66 pages in all, generally written on one side of the page only with additions and corrections sometimes made on otherwise blank facing pages, the leaves twice ring-punched and held in a 'Twinlock Second Grade College Note Book' spring-binder, 'Bound Quarter Cloth with Leatherette Side', first few leaves detached where punch-holes have worn through, the typescripts under-carbons, the manuscript sections on a variety of ruled and unruled paper, 4to
(ii) Binder containing typescript and autograph lectures: comprising (a) the typescript, with some crayon annotations, on a lecture on the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, tagged 1, 2 and 3, opening: "We had almost given up in despair, and would have done, were it not for the fact that in nearing the tomb of Ramses VI, we found a very intriguing buried heap of flint boulders which suggested the proximity of a tomb...", including several slide-lists, annotated by Carter "Indicates Lecture combining lectures I and II" and "Such scenes are naturally the works of a Court Painter – doing homage to the Young Monarch. For such a slender Youth, un-armed, save for the bow and arrow, to attack a group of lions & lionesses, is hardly tenable", also incorporating a separate typescript, employing a different typeface, of the famous account [from The Tomb of Tut.ankh.Amen, Volume I, largely by A.C. Mace] of Carter's first sight of the interior ("...When Lord Carnarvon unable to stand the suspense any longer, inquired anxiously, 'Can you see anything?' it was all I could do to get out the words, 'Yes wonderful things'..."), 9 pages, paginated 4-12; (b) typescript of a text and slide-lists headed "Notes for Stockholm Lecture II/ May 1930/ (The Royal Burial and Innermost Treasury)", tagged 4, 12 pages; (c) typescript of a lecture on colours, delivered at the V&A on 17 October 1934, 18 pages; (d) autograph manuscript of "Notes for Speech at Institute of Hygiene/ Sept 1932", 12 pages; in all 51 pages, generally written on one side of the page only with additions and corrections sometimes made on otherwise blank facing pages, the leaves twice ring-punched, three leaves lacking at the beginning, opening leaves detached where punch-holes have worn through, marked in one or two places by a later hand in ball-point pen, held in a 'Walker's Ring-Leaf Book No P97', black leather-effect boards, smaller 4to
(iii) Part of the manuscript for the opening of Chapter 2 of Volume III of The Tomb of Tut.ankh.Amen ('Tomb and Burial Chamber'), comprising the opening dictated to an amanuensis with autograph revisions by Carter: "The fear and awe associated with death were at least as deeply implanted in the minds of the ancient Eastern world as in that of the modern. These emotions have reached us through dim ancestral channels, colouring successive mythologies, moulding human conduct, nor have they left Christian theology untouched. At all times and on all races, Death has loomed as the most tremendous mystery and last inevitable necessity that man's obscure destiny must face..."; with three autograph pages in pencil, opening: "It is only in the case of the tombs of the so-called heretic Kings belonging to 'Aten' or Monotheistic Religion, that the orthodox pattern of the New Empire has been adhered to. Hence, it is no surprise to find Tut-Ankh-Amen's tomb unorthodox in type, though he reverted to the older Religion – the Worship of Amen...", marked A, B and C; plus a page of typescript marked D and "insert" by Carter: "The anti-room – such was the first impression – seemed filled by an almost incongruous miscellany of objects and furniture, heterogenous [sic] enough yet exhibiting, in not a few instances, as are friendly, attractive and domestic such as to make us wonder more than once, whether, in seeking a Pharaoh, we had not found the sepulchre of some Noble Egyptian youth some aspects of whose tastes the Tomb furniture seemed to record", 6 pages, the first two on Savile Club headed paper, 8vo and 16mo
(iv) List of plates by an amanuensis headed "The Tomb of Tut-ankh-amen/ Vol II", one page, folio
(v) Base measurements of the four Tutankhamun shrines, Nos. 207, 237, 238 and 239, headed "Base Measurements of:- (only)", with jottings of "Inside Measurements" and on the Sarcophagus [No. 240] and further calculations overleaf [probably drawn up for Rex Engelbach at the Cairo Museum – see his letter to Carter below], one page, 8vo
(vi) Autograph draft of an autobiography, originally headed "A Sort of Autobiography" (altered to "An Autobiographical Preface"), opening: "The reader of these 'Episodes' may desire to have some personal account of the author. I have, for that reason, thought it desirable to preface them by a brief narrative of my earlier career... I was born in London on the 9th of May 1874, at my Father's Town house in Earl's Court, which had a lovely garden..." and recording his life up until his employment aged seventeen-and-a-half by Flinders Petrie on the excavations of Tell al-Amarna ("...Here began another great change in my life – A sudden transformation from a draughtsman to an excavator..."); with a loose photograph of 'Castle Carter' ("...The seat from which we watch the moonrise..."), some 40 pages, generally written in ink on the rectos of each leaf but with often extensive additions in pencil on facing pages, in a 'Ludgate No 6 Exercise Book', some minor wear, 4to
(vii) Series of autobiographical notes, beginning with an account of episodes of his life as Chief Inspector of the Upper Nile (1899-1904), opening: "Perhaps the reader may not be displeased if I here attempt to acquaint him with something of the life during summer residence in Upper Egypt..."; and going on to describe excavations prior to 1922: "Clearing that shaft took the greater part of another two months. My description can give you no idea of the tediousness of the work: the fact, for instance, there was no means of arriving at any conclusion as to how deep we should have to go, nor the amount of material that would be required, made it all the more wearisome. However, at the end of November, the good news at last came. At the depth of more than 100 feet, the workmen reached the bottom, and revealed a doorway carefully sealed up with slabs of limestone. I examined it & found that the masonry by which it was closed had been built with due care. I said to the foreman 'this, without doubt, is the entrance to the Tomb-chamber' He nodded his assent, and muttered a prayer. My desire to remove a stone and peep through was almost irresistible. The foreman gave me a look of curiosity...", written throughout in pencil and deleted to indicate that fair copies have been made, heavily revised in places, some 20 pages, generally written on the rectos only on pages extracted from a notebook, with perforated top edges, plus one page on engraved Prince's Gate writing-paper, ticked-off by a later hand in ballpoint, small 4to [c. 1930-32]
(viii) Four autograph journal-letters signed ("Howard", the first with "Carter" deleted), to his mother ("My dear Mater"), the first three from Luxor and illustrated with pasted-in photographs, written after his appointment as first Chief Inspector of Antiquities in Upper Egypt, the photographs showing views from his house 'Castle Carter' (Medinet Habu), the entrance to the Sanctuary at Edfu, etc. ("...Yesterday I returned from an Inspection up country, at a place called Edfou, with the great pleasure of finding a letter from Mater dated Sept 2nd and also a much needed ½ doz prs of socks that caused great joy – to show my pleasure I work hard and developed photos in the evening, and hence the prints. Tomorrow I am off again up North, to Esneh and Baliana on Inspection and look into a case between subinspector and guards, either of which having taken palm-oil settlement of some Antiquity land... My flying visits to unexpected places make a few days seem weeks ago. It is a curious life – a letter may come in the morning and I go in quite an opposite way, or perhaps must stay where I am – For that is an Inspector's life..."); the fourth describing a tour of Cyprus in 1905, 26 pages, some staining from adhesive tape and minor wear, folio and 4to, Luxor, 24 August and 12 September 1900 and 15 April 1902, and Tanta (his next inspectorate base), 6 October 1905; together with two letters to him ("My dearest boy Howard") by his "loving & devoted Mother" (1917)
(ix) Typed letter signed ("Howard"), to his mother, describing an inundation in the Valley of the Kings: "Far away, at the back of the hills, incessant lightening was visible among the ominous clouds, which at dusk became a continual blaze of light; but so far away that only faint rumblings of distant thunder were to be heard. Then, gradually, the rush of water could be detected – this grew to a roar – when suddenly, before one could realize its true meaning, sort of tidal-waves of water came rushing down the desert valleys. The valley of the Tombs of the Kings, joined by the Great Western valley, in a few minutes became little short of mountain rivers – the seething waters, reaching from side to side, taking every thing before them...", 2 pages, 4to, Luxor, 20 October 1918
(x) File of correspondence between Carter and his colleague Sir Alan Gardiner, comprising seven autograph letters signed by Gardiner, discussing work on the tomb and Carter's publication of it ("...I received your third volume, and am most delighted to posses it. I have examined it cursorily, and it seems to me even more interesting than the other two – which is saying a great deal. And now you will soon be starting on the larger publication. I shall be most happy to help you to the full extent of my power..."); together with a typed letter by Gardiner to Carter, with enclosures and Carters autograph draft reply, concerning a Tutankhamun amulet that Carter had given Gardiner on the assurance that it did not come from the tomb, but that Engelbach at the Cairo Museum claimed did, and which Gardiner felt compelled to surrender to the Museum [for the upshot of this contretemps, which appears to have scuppered the last opportunity Carter had to write his full report with Gardiner's help, see James, pp. 384-6], some 30 pages, 4to and 8vo, Lansdowne Road and elsewhere, 1929-1934
(xi) Typed and autograph letters to Carter by Rex Engelbach, Inspector of Antiquities at the time of the discovery and afterwards Director of the Cairo Museum ("...With the exception of the chariots, practically all the exhibitable objects from the tomb are now on view. The three great bouquets were exposed yesterday. I had an awful job with them!... Returning to the chariots, however far I manage to restore them, I shall leave one (the worst) unassembled, since the details of jointing are, to me, of the greatest interest... When you return to Cairo why not superintend a broadcasting of the trumpets by one of the Army trumpeters – it ought to be a huge draw. The fifth chariot is on view, which puts finis to our labours..."), and asking for external measurements of the shrines, 5 pages, 8vo, Cairo, 1930 and 1934
(xii) Eight autograph letters signed by Percy White, to Carter [White, a novelist, old friend and Professor of English at the Egyptian University, played a major part in preparing Volume II]: "My hottest congratulations. But the work before you will be enormous. By all the ancient gods! – What treasures are unfolding – not only of art but perhaps of history... I've received all your diaries to date & have recast them into narrative form. They will need, of course, revision. Don't worry about writing. Rough notes will suffice. The nature & magnitude of your adventure grows on my mind", some 25 pages, 8vo, Savile Club and elsewhere, mostly 1925
(xiii) Typed letter signed by Carter's early mentor, Percy E. Newberry, to Carter, discussing "the Tutankhamen affair" and Carter's differences with Pierre Lachau ("...I said that I thought that you considered that the first point to be settled was the money payment to Lady Carnarvon and that when that was settled you might perhaps discuss the further point about the keys..."), 2 pages, 4to, Cairo, 15 January 1930
(xiv) Letters by further fellow archaeologists and scientific colleagues, including his first employer Sir Flinders Petrie, and Lady Petrie, Douglas Derry, who had carried out the autopsy on Tutankhamun's body (writing in 1932 that "I have received the boxes containing the two foetuses & viscera' [found in the Treasury]), his sponsor Robert Mond ("...The steel dagger you found on the body of Tut has a beautiful quartz pommel..."), Alfred Mond, Lord Melchett (seeking posts for refugees from Hitler and suggesting the creation of a chair of Classical Archaeology at Cairo), Pierre Lacau, Director General of the Antiquities Service (group, partly about their key dispute), Percy E. Newberry, Alexander Scott, and others
(xv) File of letters, by famous or well-connected personages, some written after visiting Tutankhamun's tomb, such as the Duke of Alba (series – "How wonderfully interesting your work now is, what incredible riches you are finding in Tut Ankh Amen's tomb, and what a tremendous pity you could not land on an unlooted tomb of one of the big fellows!"); Gustav, Crown Prince of Sweden; Clive Wigram, and other officials of the British royal household; the Crown Prince of Sweden; Princess Mary ("...We were much interested in all you showed us..."); Princess Marthe Bibesco; Ruth Draper; Rider Haggard; sundry White House aides; Violet Astor ("...It is difficult to find adjectives, or words of any kind to describe the beauty of all those things we saw yesterday..."); Beverley Nichols (asking if he can write a profile and assuring him that "it would be so abominable as it sounds"), and others
(xvi) Financial and legal papers, including a file of letters concerning his receipt of a quarter of the sum settled on Lady Carnarvon by the Egyptian Government in 1938 ("...Lady Carnarvon, as I think you know, greatly appreciates the distinguished service you have rendered in the cause of scientific research and has many gratifying memories of your association with her late husband..."), correspondence with the Inland Revenue ("...The Chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue... is very much occupied at the moment and regrets that he cannot at present suggest a date for an interview..."), etc.; among legal papers is a file of correspondence concerning a supposed libel by James R. Ogden who had repeated the claim that Carter had not been present at the tomb at the time of its discovery
(xvii) Files of correspondence and other material relating to Carter's career as a collector and dealer in antiquities, including series by his fellow archaeologist Eustache de Lorey ("...the statues you received lately seem to me so important, that I wonder if it would not be better to mention them first to the Louvre or the Metropolitan..."), correspondence with the dealers Spink ("...we hold the small Egyptian stone head of the Ramesside period on sale or return..."), including a series of personal letters by the chairman ("...I hope we have made it quite clear that we simply want this monograph to show what a famous authority thinks of these figures. I do hope, therefore, you will allow it to appear over your signature as no one for a moment will connect you as their original owner..."); and correspondence with the National Art-Collections Fund ("...The Committee very much appreciate your kindness and generosity in allowing us so much time to consider your two splendid sculptures..."); other correspondents include M. Parish-Watson ("...kindly quote me the lowest net price, and I shall add whatever profit we can make..."), Welles Bosworth, George Eumorfopoulos, Ronald Storrs (on the Lansdowne sale – "I imagine Melchett behind the scenes, the centre of transcendental operations"), et al.
(xviii) Correspondence and certificates, conferring foreign orders and academic distinctions on Carter, and formal acknowledgements by George Hill of the British Museum and others for gifts made by Carter
(xix) Eight autograph and typed letters signed by Axel Munthe, author of The Story of San Michele, to Carter, offering encouragement ("...All my thoughts have been with you these last weeks... let me at least congratulate you on the crowning success of your magnificent work...") while complaining of his "ferocious" behaviour, 12 pages, 4to and 8vo, Capri and elsewhere, undated
(xx) File of letters to Carter by his Egyptian servants ("...To your Knowledge I say; the warehouses No 4 & No 15, Tout Ankh's Tomb, drawing house, Autumobeel room, your home and whole your works are exactly..."); the last being a touching letter of condolence to Phyllis Walker by his house servants (reproduced by James)
(xxi) Correspondence with sane members of the public regarding Tutankhamun's Tomb, including jewellers wanting to copy the jewels, professional seedsmen on the purported propagation of the peas found in the tomb (expressing relief when informed that this is a myth), a poem by a Rhodesian schoolgirl, etc.
(xxii) Letters from a fair number eccentric or deranged correspondents, inspired by both his discovery of the tomb, its supposed curse, and Carter's off-hand quip that he wanted, next, to discover the tomb of Alexander the Great, including a series by the extremely rich Margit Labouchere ("...Tot ench Amon is not in his tomb... Nobody is allowed to open the coffin. Listen to your inward voice..."); other correspondents including "Martha R.I." ("...I am the Rightful Sovereign Empress Royal Queen of England and am Queen of the Earth... I conscientiously object to your project of seeking the tombs of Egyptian Kings..."), T. Tayfirnopoulo (" the Will of God and the means of the High and Holy Spiritualism, we will be shown the exact spot where the Tomb of Alexander the Great lies..."), Rosa Atkins ("...Last Feb I wrote to Lord Carnarvon where to find Tut-Ank-Amun..."), Marie Coleman ("...if I had been able to get a message to your Mate I could have saved his life. I am a Divine Prophetess and Messenger of God..."), and T.H. Nesbitt, former Town Clerk of Sydney, who asks for his autograph
(xxiii) List of "Egyptian Curios" and photographs made by Carter's sister Alice Walker and signed by her, comprising eight antiquities including "Three rings taken off the fingers of mummies at Thebes by Mr Howard Carter, The mummies were of the time of Amenhotep [i.e. Amenophis] III. 1600 B.C.", 3 pages, paper-clipped, 8vo
(xxiv) File of posthumous papers of Phyllis Walker, including correspondence with the Flaubert scholar Francis Steegmuller ("...Under separate cover, I am posting to you by registered air mail the rough draft my uncle made of the first of the 'Autobiographical Sketches' on which he was working shortly before he died... I can find no typescript of this, but I have eleven of these 'sketches' in manuscript..."); together with letters relating to the marriage of her mother Amy and the marriage and death certificates of Howard's brother Samuel and a certificate signed by Millais testifying to Samuel's proficiency as a painter
(xxv) Collection of photographs, showing Carter earlier in his career, during work on the tomb of Tutankhamun and later in his career; including scenes showing Carter outside the tomb of Tutankhamun, variously captioned by him on the reverse "Clearing Entrance of Tomb/ Jan 23rd, 1925", "Opening laboratory, Jan 25, 1925", "Showing the Gold Stick [from the tomb]/ Jan 25, 1925, "photo of Sen nefer Coffin by flash light just as it was found – & left by the ancient Robbers about 600 years before Christ. Note the broken vase in Right hand bottom corner./ the 2 stones under corner of lid I put because the air getting to the old wood began to give way – Note white mark made by lid of corner of coffin due to movement of the same/ H.C" [many of these photographs reproduced by James in Howard Carter: The Path to Tutankhamun]
(xxvi) Photograph album kept by Carter, the first page inscribed by him "19, Collingham Gardens – July 1930", showing his study [at 2 Prince's Gate Court in 1934], and holiday views around Britain, with Percy White appearing in two; with further views of Carter relaxing on deck with Prince Gustav of Sweden, interiors at Princes Gate and scenes at Swafham, etc., green boards
(xxvii) Printed books, including an off-print of H.E. Winlock's Tombs of the King of the Seventeenth Dynasty at Thebes (1924), inscribed "H.C. from H.E.W Feb 27 1925", an offprint of his Report on Work Done in Upper Egypt (1903-1904); plus various books of largely popular Egyptology (by Wathen, Trevor, Flinders Petrie, and Elliot Smith), that belonged to the family, if not Carter himself
(xxviii) Two autograph address books, evidently current at the time of his death
(xxix) Carter's correspondence case, with interior leather fan-file lettered alphabetically, stamped with his initials, also stamped with the maker's name, Drew & Sons Ltd., of Piccadilly Circus
(xxx) A 100 foot leather-cased measuring tape, by Chesterman of Sheffield, much used and with the first dozen numbers worn and reinforced in mapping ink
(xxxi) A pair of Thermos flasks in fitted leather case (with a letter by the company sent to John E. Carter in 1979 stating that they "are certainly before 1927 since that is the oldest catalogue we have and the flasks, Model 15Q, are certainly pictured in that particular year's publication... We also note that the glass bottle is of a gold colour and these were refills purchased from Germany"); plus a post-1922 Pharaoh hanging
(xxxii) Funerary papers, relating to Carter's internment at Putney Vale Cemetery on 6 March 1939 and to his grave, including the original tags that accompanied floral tributes ("To Uncle Howard/ with my love/ Phyllis", "In affectionate remembrance/ Almina/ Countess of Carnarvon", "With deepest sympathy" from the Earl of Carnarvon, etc.), a letter from the undertakers, J.H. Kenyon Ltd., headed "The following floral tributes were received for the funeral of the late Howard Carter," (Lady Carvarvon being listed as sending a "Sheaf of tulips, iris, lilies of the valley and orchids"); a letter from the Putney Vale Cemetery ("...I am afraid it would not be possible to turf the grave at this time of the year, as my Council does not undertake turfing between the months of March and October..."); the later bill for "supplying and fixing Portland stone headstone, kerbs, posts and vases"; a letter concerning the rededication of the grave in 1994 by the Department of Egyptian Antiquities, British Museum, etc


  • 'STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL OBJECTS CALL FOR WONDER, CONJECTURE AND FAIR WORDS' – THE PAPERS OF HOWARD CARTER, PRINCIPALLY RELATING TO HIS DISCOVERY OF THE TOMB OF TUTANKHAMUN: the present archive, comprising Howard Carter's papers and other effects, principally relating to his great discovery but also covering his family life and career as Egyptologist, collector and dealer, was inherited on his death in 1939 by his favourite niece and principal heir, Phyllis Walker, daughter of his sister Amy. She was to give the bulk of his archaeological papers to the Griffith Institute, University of Oxford, in 1945, while retaining the present portion, which has remained in the Carter family to this day. The late John E. Carter granted T.G.H. James access to the papers for his Howard Carter: The Path to Tutankhamun, published in 1992, where they are cited as 'the considerable papers formerly in the possession of Phyllis Walker' (p. xii). The material given by Phyllis Walker to the Griffith Institute has been digitalised and can be consulted at 'Tutankhamun: Anatomy of an Excavation' ( A great deal of the present archive remains, or has since become, unsorted – parallels with the tomb Annexe come to mind – but in the rough guide to contents given above, the aid offered by both James's biography and the Griffith website have proved invaluable.

    Although Carter 'handled the technical processes of clearance, conservation, and recording with exemplary skill and care' (James, ODNB), he never managed to prepare a full scientific publication of his discovery. He did however publish an exemplary popular account of the work, which was issued in three volumes as The Tomb of Tut.ankh.Amen (1923, 1927 and 1933), the first of which was substantially written by his principal assistant, Arthur C. Mace. It is this third volume – considered by Sir Alan Gardiner the finest of the three (see his letter to Carter above) – that features most prominently in the present archive: indeed, as far as we are aware, little relating to the other two is to be found either here or at the Griffith. The Griffith Institute holds some 24 pages of Carter's draft for Volume III, principally for Chapter 5, on deterioration and chemical change. While the range of material for Volume III in the present archive is greater, where it does overlap with the Griffith holdings, it generally represents a reworking bringing the text closer to the final published version (indeed, some pencilled annotations as to word-counts and type-sizes hints at the presence of a copy-editor). For example, our version of the opening of Chapter 3 of Book III originally began: "Strange and beautiful objects incur wonder and praise, conjecture and fair words...", which is the version to be found in the Griffith papers. This is then reworked by Carter to read: "Strange and beautiful objects call for wonder, conjecture and fair words...", which is the version that was printed.

    Not only does the present archive paint the picture of an extraordinary discovery – generally acknowledged to be the greatest in all archaeology – but it paints the portrait of an extraordinary man. Viewed superficially, with his stiff demeanour and often – by many accounts – brusqueness, impatience and off-putting manner, Howard Carter can be seen as typical of his class and generation, a quintessential early twentieth-century Englishman. But he has a great deal in common with those other supposedly quintessential Englishman – who like him rose to the top of their respective fields of endeavour – Thomas Hardy and Edward Elgar. For, like them, he was an outsider and, even more than them, was to remain an outsider all his life. Like them, he came from humble – if artistic – stock, his family originally deriving from Swafham in Norfolk and his father being a staff illustrator on the Illustrated London News. Receiving no university education, he was sent to Egypt to work as a 'tracer' on tomb scenes at Beni Hasan: 'After a few weeks he was sent to join W. M. Flinders Petrie who was excavating at Tell al-Amarna. Four months with Petrie, an obsessive but outstanding fieldworker, inspired Carter with a desire to excavate. He was still just seventeen' (ODNB), and from 1893 to 1899 was responsible for the drawing of the painted reliefs in the temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir al-Bahri, Thebes. This experience led to his appointment in 1899 as first chief inspector of antiquities in Upper Egypt by Gaston Maspero, director-general of the antiquities service of Egypt: 'Carter's appointment at the age of twenty-six, with limited archaeological experience and no formal qualifications, surprised the archaeological community in Egypt'. He was transferred to the lower Egyptian inspectorate in Cairo in 1904, but the following year resigned from the antiquities service and for three years he scraped a living by painting watercolours, and by conducting rich foreign tourists around the ancient sites of Egypt. He began his celebrated association with Earl of Carnarvon in 1909, winning the concession to dig in the Valley of the Kings in 1914. But he discovered nothing very much until, having persuaded Carnarvon to finance one last season, he made his momentous discovery in November 1922. Carnarvon's support apart, during this earlier part of his career he financed himself – in eighteenth-century fashion – by supplying rich clients with antiquities. He remained an archaeologist with no formal qualifications, and was to receive virtually no formal acknowledgment for what he achieved; amends being made only retrospectively by his present-day colleagues at the British Museum in caring for his grave, and by the Griffith Institute in the care of the papers given them by his niece: and, of course, through oblique tributes such as the film Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the enduring widespread fascination in the 'Strange and beautiful objects' calling for 'wonder, conjecture and fair words', that he discovered and that the present archive celebrates.

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  • Please note that the estimate is £100,000-150,000.
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