Apr 14, 2015 - Sale 2380

Sale 2380 - Lot 352

Price Realized: $ 13,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 4,000 - $ 6,000
(PERUVIAN ARCHAEOLOGY.) Archive of Albert Bumstead's correspondence and photographs relating to Bingham's Machu Picchu expeditions. 113 items (0.4 linear feet), including: 28 letters written by Bumstead to family members, 1912-14 * 5 letters from Hiram Bingham to Bumstead, 1914 and 1931 * 28 other miscellaneous letters, 1914-26 (many with original envelopes addressed to Bumstead in Peru) * 46 small-format photographs and Real Photo postcards * 4 mounted composite panoramic photographs of Andes landscapes, the largest being composed of 7 conjoined photographs totaling 21 inches long * and the official 1930 published expedition report, Hiram Bingham's Machu Picchiu: A Citadel of the Incas, folio, publisher's 1/2 cloth, minimal wear, in slipcase; condition generally strong, with minor wear to some letters. Vp, 1912-1931, bulk 1912 and 1914

Additional Details

Albert H. Bumstead (1875-1940) is best known for his cartographic work on the 1912 and 1914 expeditions to Peru. These Peruvian expeditions extended from 1911 to 1915 under the leadership of Hiram Bingham, funded by Yale University and the National Geographic Society, and brought the great lost Inca citadel Machu Picchu to the attention of the world. Bumstead's maps and plans were a crucial part of the published expedition report.
Bumstead's letters date from June 1912 to September 1914, and were written to his mother Ann Maria Hoit Bumstead (1849-1931) and his wife Annie M. Sweeney Bumstead (1871-1950) in Brookline, MA. Most of them are quite long, extending to several quarto pages. Bumstead was not an archaeologist but had plenty of exposure to the treasures being uncovered: "I came to a terrace wall that had caved away and exposed an old grave with a skeleton nearly if not quite complete. . . . Near there we found an old fortress or building of some sort made of the curious Inca stone work and an underground passage, part of which was cut right into the solid rock" (20 July 1912). He later went on a two-month surveying trip through the mountains. On 9 August 1912 he describes at length being "held up by ten Indians . . . armed with big sticks" who "yelled to us in Quechua which of course we could not understand," and then attempted to take his drafting table. While surveying in the mountains, he discovered "a lot of inca ornaments of bronze and silver among the morainal material left by a molting glacier" and then "a ruined Inca city of 15 or 20 houses similar to the poorer houses at Machu Picchu" that was apparently unknown to Bingham (18 July 1914).
Bingham's five signed letters to Bumstead contain important information about the expedition. On 27 April 1914, Bingham offers many specifics on the Salcantay Quadrangle terrain, including detailed notes on his own travels in the area two years before. On 30 September, Bingham announces the resignation of the expedition's surgeon, despairs of finding another, and asks Bumstead to avoid "risks any more than you can help, and take as good care of yourself as possible." Two 1931 letters discuss the long-awaited published report; Bingham notes that "you did a lot to make it valuable and beautiful."
Other correspondence includes 25 letters to Bumstead from his family, most of them from 1912 and 1914; and a humorous 1914 letter from Josephine Feeley at the New Haven headquarters. The photographs are largely uncaptioned, depicting a variety of mountain views (including 4 majestic composite panoramic views), archaeological scenes, Peruvian laborers, and a few office scenes of Bumstead and colleagues (presumably at Yale). At least one of the photographs was published in the 1930 report: a view from the expedition's camp taken on 17 August 1912 after a month had been spent clearing brush (illustrated).
Taken as a whole, this archive sheds new light on one of the major archaeological expeditions of the early 20th century, and particularly on Albert Bumstead's significant contributions.