"TO MY DEAR FRIEND MR. PERCY WHITE": EXTRAORDINARY PRESENTATION/ASSOCIATION FIRST EDITION OF THE TOMB OF TUTANKHAMEN, WARMLY INSCRIBED BY HOWARD CARTER IN TWO VOLUMES TO HIS FRIEND AND COLLABORATOR PERCY WHITE, WHO HELPED WRITE VOLUMES I AND II
CARTER, Howard and MACE, A.C. The Tomb of Tutankhamen Discovered by the Late Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter. London: Cassell, 1923-33. Three volumes. Thick octavo, original brown cloth gilt with decorative gilt scarabs on front covers, patterned endpapers. $29,000.
A fantastic presentation/association copy of the first edition of Carter's account of the discovery of King Tutankhamen's tomb, including the scarce third volume, with 247 dramatic illustrations, inscribed in Volume I: "Percy White from Howard Carter. 16 Dec. 1923, Cairo. With homage from the Author, Howard Carter"; and inscribed in Volume III: "To my dear friend Mr. Percy White—Howard Carter, 1933." White is known to have largely written Volume II based on Carter's notes and diaries; Carter effusively thanks White in the Prefaces to both Volumes I and II.
This association copy was inscribed in Volumes I and III by Carter to his close friend, novelist Percy White (1852-1938), who wrote some 30 novels between 1893 and 1914. In the Preface to Volume I Carter writes, "I must also thank my dear friend Mr. Percy White, the novelist, Professor of English Literature in the Egyptian University, for his ungrudging literary help" (page xvi). White accompanied Carter to New York as he set out on his lecture tour of 17 American and Canadian cities in the summer of 1924, shortly after the publication of Volume I. "An old friend of Carter's, White was to play an increasingly important part in the preparation of the second volume on the tomb, which came out in 1926. His help is acknowledged in the Preface to that volume but from what Carter says, no mention would have pleased White more. He had no hand in the writing of Volume III" (James, Howard Carter: The Path to Tutankhamun, 254).
In the Preface to Volume II, Carter writes: "There is one old friend, of many years' standing—Mr. Percy White, who insists that any assistance that it may have been in his power to give me, has had its own reward, as a labor of love. I must nevertheless embarrass him with my warmest thanks for helping me in the compilation of this volume, although for his sake I will say no more" (xxiv). White "Had been a good friend and invaluable literary adviser to Carter since before the Great War; one of the few people whom Carter could count as a real friend, bridging his two lives in Egypt and in London" (James, 458). In a letter to Carter dated November 25, 1925, White writes: "I've received all your diaries to date and have recast them into narrative form. They will need, of course, scissors. Don't worry about writing. Rough notes will suffice. The nature and magnitude of your adventure grows on my mind" (quoted in Reeves & Taylor, Howard Carter: Before Tutankhamun, 167).
When Carter entered King Tut's tomb in 1922, he bridged 3000 years separating the reign of the Boy-King from the modern world. This first detailed account, richly illustrated with hundreds of plates after photographs taken by Harry Burton, includes images from the discovery of Tut's sepulchral chamber, the excavation of the site and hundreds of catalogued artifacts. Carter began working on Egyptian digs at the age of 17, working his way up to until he was "appointed by the Egyptian government to be inspector-in-chief of the monuments of Upper Egypt and Nubia with headquarters at Thebes. In 1902 he began excavations in the Valley of the Tombs of the Kings, discovered the sepulchres of Hatshepsut (as sovereign) and Tuthmosis IV, and installed electric lighting in several of the larger royal tombs at Thebes and in the rock-temple at Abu Simbel in Nubia. In 1903 Carter was transferred to the inspectorate of Lower Egypt with headquarters at Tanta… Five years later (1908)… Carter returned in order to superintend the excavations in the necropolis at Thebes being conducted by George Herbert, fifth Earl of Carnarvon [q.v.]. During the war of 1914-1918, among other discoveries, he found and cleared the long sought for tomb of Amenophis I. On 4 November 1922 he made the great discovery which will always be associated with his name, the tomb of King Tutankhamen with its extraordinary wealth of artistic treasures. Carter's records of the objects found and his handling and packing of them for transport down the Nile to Cairo were a most brilliant achievement and occupied no less than ten seasons (1922-1932). He published The Tomb of Tut-ankh-Amen and he had hoped to publish the full catalogue of all objects found, but his health failed and the work was unfinished" (DNB). Because of the Depression, the third and final volume, included here, was printed in limited numbers and is consequently quite scarce. Without dust jackets, as usual.
Some scattered foxing, as usual; expert reinforcement to text blocks and inner paper hinges, light rubbing to spines of Volumes I and II. An exceptional and scarce association copy inscribed in two volumes by Carter to an old friend and collaborator.