F. L. Kenyon to J. T. Gerould and W. Austin: 9/21/21

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Copies delivered with the papyri to:

James Thayer Gerould, Librarian of Princeton University
Willard Austin, Librarian of Cornell University

Copy sent to:

Mr. H. I. Bell

New York, September 21, 1921

To the librarians of Cornell and Princeton Universities.


I have pleasure in delivering to you the papyri obtained under the Co-operative arrangement with Sir Frederic Kenyon of the British Museum. The carrying of the arrangement into effect was made possible by remitting promptly the sums appropriated for the purchase of the papyri.

Sir E. Wallis Budge planned to go to Egypt early in the present year in order to make purchases for the Oriental Department of the British Museum. Sir Frederic Kenyon arranged that the papyrologist of the British Museum, Mr. H.I. Bell, should accompany him, Mr. Bell's expenses to be defrayed by a prorata charge upon the funds expended for the purchase of papyri. After passage hor Alexandria had been engaged, the serious illness of Mr. Bell's father made it impossible for him to leave England; Sir Frederic therefore requested Dr. Budge to obtain all good Greek and Coptic papyri available and bring them back with him. I furnished to Dr. Budge also a letter releasing to him certain papyri which were being held for me on a refusal, since I had at first planned myself to go to Egypt again this year.

The total value of the papyri brought back by Dr. Budge was given as 1740 Egyptian Pounds, the Egyptian Pound being worth slightly more than the English Pound. After examination Sir Frederic offered 1600 Pounds Sterling, and that sum was finally accepted.

All the Coptic papyri were taken by the British Museum and the University of Michigan. Of the Greek papyri, the University of Michigan took only three items, one being a small fragment of a mathematical treatise with diagrams of the second century, and another a table of fractions of the fourth century. Although the University of Michigan contributed £558-10-0, towards the purchase of papyri, shortly after Dr. Budge's return to London unexpected opportunities came up and it seemed fairer to use the balance of the Michigan fund in trying to obtain new lots, leaving the Greek papyri already obtained to be divided by Dr. Bell and director Kenyon among the other contributors; this made it possible to invest favorably and at once the entire contributions of the Universities of Geneva, Cornell and Princeton.

The total number of items aquired by the payment of £1600 was 277. Several items, however, included collections of small fragments, and in a few cases two papyri were found pasted together, presumably by the finders or dealers who thought that they belonged together. A number of the smallest fragments are grouped under items 136-138 of the Cornell Inventory and items 65-67 of the Princeton Inventory, with the thought that they might be useful for work in a Seminary in Greek Palaeography.

The division stands as follows:



Amount in Pounds


British Museum


(not yet inventoried)

University of Geneva


" " "

Cornell University


138, Greek

Princeton University


1, Demotic
2, Greek

University of Michigan


2, Greek
20, Coptic


An inventory of the papyri allotted to Cornell and Princeton Universities was compiled by me from data furnished by Mr. Bell and hastily typed as I was about leaving London; Mr. Bell was already on vacation, hence any errors must be attributed to the typist or myself, and not to him. On Sept. 6Th, these papyri were packed in two tin boxes by Mr. C. T. Lamacraft, technical expert (with the title "Museum Clerk") of the British Museum, who placed a copy of the inventory in each box. The papyri are in folders of coarse paper, with an inventory number in the upper left hand corner of each folder.

To the division of the papyri Mr. Bell and Director Kenyon (especially the former) gave anxious thought. The number of items is no guide to the relative value of the allotment since completeness and importance of content were taken into account as well as the number of items. The value of the papyri was greatly enhanced by the work done on them in the British Museum. Mr. Lamacraft and an assistant devoted about five weeks to the damping out and preparation of these papyri and some others which I have brought with them; and Mr. Bell could not possibly have completed the work which he put upon them in less than five to six weeks. This means that the routine of this department of the British Musuem was set aside for five or six weeks for work in which the Museum had a proportionally small interest.

Furthermore, I found no record at the Museum of any charges against these papyri for the Egyptian export tax, which Dr. Budge probably paid, or for a share of Dr. Budge's expenses of travel. I have written to Sir Frederic Kenyon, who was on vacation in the brief period which I spent in London on the way from Italy, making inquiry in regard to these costs.

Under these circumstances - quite frankly - both Cornell and Princeton Universities are receiving a large return for their money. Had the Long rolls allotted to Princeton (Nos. 11, 48 and 55 of the Princeton section of the inventory) been unrolled and their content known before they left Egypt, they would have been firmly held at about eighty pounds, eighty pounds, and forty pounds respectively, or two hundred pounds for the three; and there are several items that would have been held at ten to fifteen pounds each in Cairo had they been damped out.

The same is relatively true of the Cornell allotment. Of special value is No. 116 of the Cornell section of the inventory, which was set aside immediately on identification for the use of Professor Westermann. Unfortunately, parts of this extensive roll are so badly preserved that the greatest care must be exercised in unrolling it and in piecing the fragments together before more breaks occur. In both the Princeton and Cornell allotments attention should be particularly called to the items from Philadelphia. These are from the same region whence came the Zeno papyri. They form, evidently, a part of an early first century archive.

About one hundred items from the same Philadelphia archive are still in Egypt, but the Arab owner rejected my first offer for them and is still unreasonable in regard to the price. I have not, however, yet given up the hope of securing them.

About a hundred of the Zeno papyri, probably the last, are in the hands of an Alexandrian Greek, who is offering them at an excessive price.

It would have been unsafe to forward either the Princeton or the Cornell allotment of papyri by ordinary transportation. I therefore brought them with me as baggage, under insurance, and kept them in the specific room of the steamer until landing. At the dock the Customs officials insisted that the law now requires that every package be opened; previously packages of papyri brought in by me have been passed without examination. As the dock was damp from rain outside on the day of landing, I arranged to leave the boxes as sealed by Mr. Lamacraft until I could see Collector Aldridge. Under instructions from him, on Monday Sept. 19, all the papyri (four boxes) were passed without breaking the seals of the British Museum except in the case of the Princeton box, and this was opened, in a suitable place, only enough to comply with the letter of the law; the Princeton papyri are in a relatively good state of preservation.

Respectfully submitted,

Frederic Kenyon

Note: Handwritten text appears here as italics.

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