S&SWM PR papers L2170

Ansd Aug 8/98

Rieder-Furka | Moerel (Valais) Aug 4 98

Dear General Pitt-Rivers

I had some talk with Salomon Reinach of the Musée de St Germain lately about your coil and meander series at the Museum at Oxford when he examined your specimens carefully with me not long ago. We met again on the Calais steamer and he said that he had not a set of your papers and only knew your views from one, I think the Bethnal Green Catalogue. I said that of all places these papers ought to be at Saint Germain, and that I would write to ask you what can be done.

Writing this reminds me that it is some while since I wrote to or heard from you. There is a steady if rather slow growth going on in your various series from new specimens, which you will I think like to look at if you can find time to come to Oxford after the Vacation. Now and then some new lines of connexion start. You will be interested to hear that the Tasmanian area of quasi-palaeolithic implements is at last found to extend into Australia. For years whenever we go into Somerset, I pay a visit to Mr Sanford of Nynehead and get him to bring out a gum-hafted stone blade, chipped after the rudest Tasmanian manner, which he brought from West Australia over 40 years since. After attempting for years without success to get the examination pushed in this region, there has at last come a letter from Mr A. Morton of Hobart, who has been in the Murchison River district and finds tribes there in the same quasi-palaeolithic stage as the Tasmanian, so that it seems reasonable to extend the area of this rude stone age over Australia also, treating the ground stone hatches as introduced from the northern part into which they came across the Torres Strait in some comparatively recent period. It is hoped you may come to Bristol for the British Association in September, so I mention that I am arranging for a short paper to set this subject moving. You will remember the carved and painted small totem-posts from North-West America, which are placed in the Human Figure series. I have lately been examining them carefully with Balfour and they seem not be merely [sic] art carvings but to have value as actual totem-figures, as I find by having taken a great deal of trouble lately about the meaning & origin of totems. The theological world of Oxford has been exciting itself much of late about the works of J.G. Frazer and F.H. Jevons, and I have been called in to say what the truth is about the theory of totems as expounded by McLennan in his papers long ago, as to the totems being among the greatest factors in the development of the religions of the world. The whole business seems to be of minor importance and most of the theories worthless which have been built on it by these ingenious writers. But in the meantime the totems are rather interesting and worth working out, and your Haida specimens will I hope come in useful. The longer I live the more I feel the value of your method of working in series of actual objects rather than mere talk.

Mrs Tylor sends her very kind regards to Mrs Pitt-Rivers. We are here in the mountains for a few weeks but shall return next week to Oxford.

Believe me
yrs very truly
Edward B. Tylor

Nynehead is about 1.5 miles from Wellington, where Tylor maintained a house. Nynehead Court was the residence of the Sanford (or Sandford) family. This might be William Ayshford Sanford (1818-1902).

Note that the answer to this letter may come from Tylor papers PRM ms collections Box 13 P11 Pitt-Rivers although that letter is dated August 7, a day before the above letter was annotated as having been answered.

Transcribed by AP for the Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project in July-August 2011

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