Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, December 18, 1938

18.XII.38

Dear Robert.

I’ve seen Juritzky. He has brought out a number of small objects, but not the sardonyx crossThis sardonyx cross has not been identified. which I had hoped for as it’s rather bulky. Next time, perhaps. Among the things he has brought out, I have asked him to send you photos. of these:

  1. A round gold fibula,SeeKatalog der Sammlungen Ludwig Marx-Mainz, Albert Sieck-München (Munich: Weizinger, 1918), 55, no. 894. inlaid with pale sapphires and glass paste. Diam. 9.1 cm weight 62 gr, He asks Sw. Fr. 5000.
  2. A round gold fibula,SeeKatalog der Sammlungen Ludwig Marx-Mainz, Albert Sieck-München (Munich: Weizinger, 1918), 55, no. 893. no inlay. Diam. 7.8 cm., weight 40.2 gr. He asks Sw. Fr. 5000.
  3. A buckle,SeeKatalog der Sammlungen Ludwig Marx-Mainz, Albert Sieck-München (Munich: Weizinger, 1918), 56, no. 918. gold. Weight 63 cm [sic]. Length 10. Cm. He asks Sw Fr. 2500.
  4. A sardonyx cameo.This sardonyx cameo has not been identified. Length 5 cm. Sw. Fr. 2000.

Nos. 1 & 2 are exceedingly fine, and very rare indeed. They are so close to other fibulas in the Castel TrosinoCastel Trosino, a village near the Italian town of Ascoli Piceno. A large Lombard necropolis was discovered at the village in 1893. Objects excavated there are now exhibited in the Museo nazionale dell’Alto Medioevo, Rome, opened in 1967.—with coins of Maurice († 602)—find in the Terme Museum, Rome, that its likely they were stolen from that find. They are the two best pieces in the lot (assuming they belong there). They were in a sale in Oct. 1918 in Germany, composed of two unrelated Colls (Ludwig Marx and Albert Sieck.Katalog der Sammlungen Ludwig Marx-Mainz, Albert Sieck-München (Munich: Weizinger, 1918). Juritzky showed me the catalogue. He paid Marks 38,000 for No. 1 and Marks 39,000 for No. 2! I can well believe it, for such things have brought big prices in Germany. Juritzky says he could get, in Germany, about that price for them now, in RM.Reichmark, the currency in Germany between 1924 and 1948. But he couldn’t get the RM out. The RM, by the way, here in Geneva, is worth about .33 Sw. centimes: you can get 3 RM for 1 Sw. Fr.! And of course it’s a criminal offence to take RM into Germany (or out of Germany).

I screwed him down unmercifully on the prices, saying it just wasn’t worth while writing you about the stuff unless he’d forget what he’d paid and name a reasonable figures as things are today.

If you’re not interested, just tell me so. If you are interested, one might take an extra squeeze by saying $1000 instead of Sw. Fr. 5000. They’re sound pieces, and certainly genuine.

No. 3, a nice, heavy buckle,See Katalog der Sammlungen Ludwig Marx-Mainz, Albert Sieck-München (Munich: Weizinger, 1918), 56, no. 918. also from the Marx-Sieck sale, at which it went for 18,000 M., I have no light on its provenance, but its also a Germanic objet of about the same period, and a very good one. It has that nice archaic feel about it—not fancy.

The cameo,This sardonyx cameo has not been identified. No. 4, is certainly of the V cent., & probably Western. You’ll see its character from the greatly enlarged photo. It’s good of its kind, but doesn’t greatly attract me, I’m not sure of the subject—it looks like the Visitation, only I don’t remember in the Visitation the old rooter [sic] about to throw his hat in the air. Anyway, I’m satisfied it’s genuine.

Juritzky has property in Austria, Czecko, Poland & the Ukraine (Russian part). He makes on me the impression of expecting things to collapse in Fritz’sRoyall Tyler’s slang for “Germans.” part of the world, and to want to provide himself with what cash he can to live outside. He says the taxes on his landed property are now higher than any return he can get out of them, & he’s just letting them rip. He says things have deteriorated greatly in Austria since he was there in the summer—he has now spent two months there—and that the depression and pessimism of all his friends & acquaintances are appalling. Things being run by a lot of young thugs who steal, bribe & plunder right & left. All decent people, including many former enthusiasts of the Nazi cause, utterly disgusted. Even the laboring classes beginning to be hostile; at first they were pleased, as they got work, but now they find that prices have risen so much that even working full time they are hardly better off then they were when unemployed, unter Schuschnigg,Kurt Alois Josef Johann Schuschnigg (1897–1977), the chancellor of the First Austrian Republic from 1934 until the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in 1938. & got the dole. Dissatisfaction so general that the last Viennese joke is that a new monument is to be created—Dem unbekannten Befriedigten“To the unknown satisfied man.”—to the unknown man who’s satisfied with everything.

Well, how long will it last? And what will Fritz try to spring on the world before he busts? Don’t mention Juritzky by name, please.

Yrs

R. T.

 
Associated Places: Austria