Monday, April 6, 2009

The Trunk

Thanks for recent e-mails. Lots of questions and food for thought in them. Firstly - I acquired the diaries/journals at a public auction at a small auction house in London some years ago. This auction house specialised in second-hand funiture and bric-a-brac mostly from house clearances and their clientele tended to be landlords of small flats who were always on the lookout for cheap furniture. The diaries were part of a job lot - books and magazines and prints in a large wooden chest - it was the chest that really interested me as a potential storage unit also it was obviously craftsman made and to me very attractive. I later found out that it probably dated from the 17th century and was most likely of Spanish origin so it was probably a family heirloom. I got it cheaply as no one else seemed interested. All the books, (cheap novels mostly) and magazines (popular illustrated monthlies and weeklies of the 1900's to about 1940) and prints (sentimental/romantic subjects) were French. There was no indication as to previous ownership of the chest and the auctioneer told me that it had come to them as part of a house clearance put into the auction by the firm that had carried out the clearance. He had not bothered to sift through the contents as they looked pretty run-of-the-mill stuff to him. I didn't pursue it further at the time.
The books, magazines and most of the prints I disposed of to a second-hand book dealer all apart from some copies of George Sand, Flaubert, Balzac, Gautier, et al which were in good condition and in some cases with uncut pages which would indicate that they had not been read much if at all. I still have these in my personal library. Some of them have the initials "E. M. J S-C." inside the front covers and dates ranging from 1892 to 1905. These are I presume the initials of Rodrigo's wife Elena. The journals I put to one side as something I might find amusing at a later date. I was working then and very busy in my position as a lecturer in Modern History in a Polytechnic Institute (now metamorphosed into a University no less) but now I am retired with plenty of spare time.

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