ORiGINAL 1847 HANDWRITTEN LETTER ~ MUMMY~ SLAVE TYPES Of MANKIND GA ~ EGYPTIAN For Sale
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ORiGINAL 1847 HANDWRITTEN LETTER ~ MUMMY~ SLAVE TYPES Of MANKIND GA ~ EGYPTIAN :
Up for sale is an original handwritten letter with rare, historical significance. It is written and signed by GEORGE R. GLIDDON to Robert W. Gibbes Esq. M.D. in Columbia, Georgia during the year 1847. Dr. Robert Gibbes is noted as treating slaves on the Wade Hampton plantations in 1833 and subsequently had “several thousand” slaves under his care.
The content of the George Gliddon letter (postmarked Augusta, GA) is short but historically significant and reads as follows:
Augusta, December 12, 1847 – 7 p.m.
I wrote you this morning, but don’t disturb yourself – the d__d (dead) things have come!
Yours in better humor,
What Gliddon is referring to are the Egyptian mummies, Got Thothi Aunk and Nefer Atethu that he acquired from Egypt. He would ultimately showcase the unwrapping of the mummies in front of a large crowd in Boston two years later. The original newspaper article, from 1850, about the exhibition is included in the sale. I’ll go into more about the exhibition in a bit. One rather interesting note is Gliddon’s tie with EDGAR ALLAN POE who wrote the first short story about mummies, titled ”SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY” and included George Gliddon as one of the characters in the story. It was published in 1845 and again in 1850.
ABOUT GEORGE ROBBINS GLIDDON : b. 1809 – d. 1857
George R. Gliddon, a one-time American Vice-Consulate in Cairo in 1832, must be credited as being a major factor in America’s Egyptomania of the 19th Century. He was a prolific writer and lecturer. Unfortunately his Egyptology was based on his racial politics and geared toward proving his racist theories which were used as arguments in favor of slavery. He used mummies, ancient artifacts, pseudo scientific jargon and stagecraft to “prove” that the brains of black people were smaller than those of whites. Gliddon became a laughingstock, five years after Poe’s story “Some Words With A Mummy” was released to a wider audience and pretty much coincided with Gliddon’s staged mummy show. The show that ultimately unraveled his career. Promoting a show in Boston in 1850, Gliddon claimed he would be unwrapping the mummy of an Egyptian priest’s daughter – information ascertained he said, from deciphering the hieroglyphs on her sarcophagus. The local press played it up, even promoting the priest’s daughter to the status of a princess and Gliddon chose not to correct the mistake. Before an audience of 2,000 people including HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW, Harvard President JARED SPARKS, OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES and famed Swiss naturalist LOUIS AGASSIZ, Gliddon theatrically sliced through the bandages and chipped loose clots of resin. But as he tossed aside the last cloth from the mummy’s loins, those seated in the front row gasped and then laughed loudly. Whether the offspring of a priest or king, the mummified “daughter” was unmistakably a “son”. The pseudo-Egyptologist’s career was ruined. He attempted to continue on in his career as an Egyptologist by touring in the more sympathetic pro-slavery South, but never managed to regain the credibility he once reveled in that of his chosen field. He knew he was finished. He later moved to Central America and within years, he died at the age of 50 of an opium overdose in a hotel in Panama. Some believe it was suicide.
Gliddon wrote several books but one in particular, that was co-authored with Dr. Josiah C. Nott of Mobile, Alabama, was titled “TYPES OF MANKIND”. No single publication was more infamous or influential in the history of 19th century American Egyptomania than Josiah Clark Nott and George Robins Gliddon’s 1854 book. It was over 800 pages long, carefully compiled and lavishly illustrated, packed with data and provocative conclusions. Nott and Gliddon’s “Types of Mankind” was an instant classic, a best-selling scientific textbook that went through over a dozen printings and which stayed in print until the turn of the century. It rocketed Nott and Gliddon to fame, forever associated them with a very particular school of thought, and cemented their place in American scientific history. It is also one of the most racist texts ever written, a classic of American racism as much as American science, and is today considered the high-water mark of American scientific racism.
The mummies, Got Thothi Aunk and Nefer Atethu, were donated by Gliddon to the University of Louisanna (now Tulane University) in New Orleans, LA and still reside there today.
The letter measures 10" x 7.5" and condition is as pictured. An AMAZING piece of history to add to any collection.
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