KITCHENER, Horatio Herbert, 1st Earl, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts



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KITCHENER, Horatio Herbert, 1st Earl (1850-1916). Field Marshal.
Series of 7 Autograph Letters Signed with 6 Autograph Letters Signed of his Aide-de-Camp Captain O.A.G. FitzGerald and one of Captain Learmouth of his staff, in all 33 pages 8vo and 9 pages 4to, Simla, Calcutta, Cairo, and York House, St James's, 1907-1915. All the letters pertain to Kitchener's collection of porcelain, one written to Mr Clemmell, the remainder to the Revd Samuel Couling, primarily resident in Shanghai.
Kitchener was an enthusiastic and knowlegeable collector of porcelain and other fine pieces from the far east. He took great pains with the decoration of his various residences, eventually sending a fine collection to Broome Park, his house in Kent.
The Revd Mr Couling was a missionary who was happy to scour the area around Shanghai for suitable pieces for Kitchener. Though he visited China only once, it is evident from these letters that Kitchener had an eye for quality far greater than that of Couling.
An interesting example of Kitchener's acuity as a collector is the story of his visit to view the Imperial collection. It was surrounded by pagodas and its precise whereabouts was a supposed secret. Kitchener was led through a labyrinth of closely guarded passages to a darkened room. Here the Regent had offered Kitchener four specimens of his famous 'peach-bloom' china. Though the room was dark and the dust of ages had been left on the pieces, Kitchener's selection was pronounced by experts as of the finest quality.
'... I am sorry that we have lost the small Sang de Beouf vase and I think Hsiao Tootai ought to play up about the other one but I doubt if you will get it for $500 it ought to be cheap at that price if it is what I think it is.
I prefer to give good prices for good articles to buying a large amount of only moderately good china cheap. ...'
'... You say you will kindly try and get me some good pieces. I shall be excessively obliged to you if you will do so, and so pander to my only hobby outside the Army. ... It is difficult to say what I like best but good Kangzi 5 colours are very attractive. ... you already know my wish to obtain some good produced blue. ...'
'... I wish you would look out for incised laquer, it is much better than the flat kind. On the incised laquer all the drawings are in slight relief and the colours are generally rather better. It occurs on screens and those large boxes called tea chests at home. ...'
The last letter of this series, dated 28 July 1915, contains this poignant paragraph:
'All is going well. The Germans are not succeeding & will lose the campaign when all is ready for them.'
It is interesting to note that Kitchener left a legacy of £200 to his Aide-de-Camp Colonel Fitzgerald.
[No: 23878]


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