S&SWM PR papers L786


[Ans'd Dec. 3/91]

Thames Bank, | Gt. Marlow | Bucks. | Dec. 1. 91.


I heard from Mr Gosselin / R. Archaeological Inst'e/, this morning, that you had been making enquiries concerning my collection of Scandinavian objects lately exhibited there, especially the Tapestry.

I am sorry to say the whole collection is for sale, as my Father means to dispose of this house, & I am not likely to have space &c. for its wherever I settle.

The British Museum have bought all the prehistoric Norwegian things & a few medieval - viz (in the catalogue) Nos. 3 to 69 inclusive [insert] also Icelandic bone-skates No. 184 [end insert];* the S. Kensington have bought 3 Tapestry sleigh-cushions Nos. 202, 205, 206; & have not yet made up their minds whether they will take the Lapland hand-weaving apparatus, No. 152.**

Balfour, for you Oxford collection has bought the Danish Kitchen Midden things, Nos. 1 & 2. Iron spade tip, 135. Root-rope. 137. Seven Lapland bone spoons 154-160. Lapland needle case 165. Lapland modern snaphaunce rifle 173. Iceland stone hammer 188. ***

I do not myself know the market value of these things, & have been puzzled to put a price on the things already sold.

I am
Faithfully yours
Alfred Heneage Cocks

Balfour would have bought several other things, he says the funds at his disposal are exhausted.

Gen. Pitt-Rivers FRS &c.

* These items include 1891,1021.111 (bone skates)

** A search of the V&A online collections database cannot identify these items

*** These items are 1891.56.1-9 and 2 items found unaccessioned in 2005, 200579.1-2.

Note that Pitt-Rivers did not acquire any of this collection.



Thames Bank, | Gt. Marlow | Bucks. | Sept. 17.94

Dear Gen. Pitt Rivers,

I have packed up, ready to send off by railway tomorrow, the 6 Norwegian tapestry counterpanes. I cannot find my note of the name of the house where the piece "G" came from; but shall doubtless come across it eventually: but meanwhile as "Skjager" is the parish the name of the actual house would perhaps have no great interest to you.

I am sending (by post) a copy of the Brit: Assoc: Report on the Wild Cattle; & also a copy of the catalogue of my Scandinavian Exhibition of 1891 *, which I hope may interest you.

All the pieces of tapestry have been in my possession upwards of 10 years, & very few are likely to be in the market in future. All the parishes whence they come, are in Gunbrands Dalen; & they were probably woven in one or other of the two parishes, Vaage & Lom.

I was much disappointed to learn that you had some of the old blood of the White Cattle, & then to fail to see them: I must hope for better luck on my next visit to Farnham,; as one of the British public, allow me to thank you for providing so much of interest, with every facility for seeing it.

I hope you will try Reindeer again: I cannot help thinking that with some contrivances, & looking after, they ought to be capable of being nursed through 2 or 3 English summers; & probably after about that time they would have become acclimatized.

Yrs very faithfully
Alfred H. Cocks

* Still enclosed with the letter, it is the catalogue of the 'Scandinavial Exhibition of Antiquities and Other Objects collected by Alfred Heneage Cocks. on view at The Royal Archaeological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland June 1st 1891'

These items are not part of the second collection, or at least they were not catalogued in the CUL catalogue.



Gt. Marlow | Bucks. | Sept. 23.94

Dear Gen. Pitt Rivers,

I sent you a telegram yesterday, in reply to yours; & I hope to hear from you in the course of another day, or two, of the safe arrival of the tapestry. It being rather a bulky package, I thought it best to send it by goods train, & I daresay with its many changes of truck, it would take some days to accomplish the journey.

Yours very truly
Alfred H. Cocks



Gt. Marlow | Bucks. | Sept. 28.94

Dear Gen. Pitt Rivers,

I was glad to hear by second post of the safe arrival of the tapestry, as it was a very long time on the road.

I enclose formal receipt on the other side another sheet. In answer to your questions, the origin of the designs of these tapestries has always rather puzzled me: but I do not think they originated with the fabricators, who would be merely "housewives" of a class between what we understand by farmer & peasant proprietor. There are certain details which would be quite unfamiliar to them up country in Norway, in the early (or even middle) part of the 17th century: e.g. the elephant &c, on the oval border of one of Three-Holy-Kings, pieces; & the ostrich feather in the Queen of Sheba's hand: but as the Reformation of Norway had not taken place so very long before then tapestries began to be made, there would still have been a good many ecclesiastical paintings, carvings &c, to suggest subjects, to which they originated borders & other accessories. The Wise-v-foolish-Virgins being evidently the most popular subject, is far more conventionalised than the others.

I should suppose they were worked in looms but little different from those still common in Norway, Sweden & Finland, but I am afraid I don't know the right name for the particular kind.

The names we know these tapestries by, up country, are simply

ET HOJ SAEDE TAEPPE = A Throne coverlet,  or SENG-TAEPPE = A Bed do. or A counterpane. while VAEVNADE prefixed [insert] (following the article) [end insert] explains they are woven.

Your last qn I cannot answer, as I do not know the embroidered Icelandic counterpanes, & overlooked your specimens I suppose.

I was in Reading on Tuesday, & (as usual) visited the Museum for the Silchester things - & found that photographs are now to be had in the town, of the Ogam stone - you might like copies to give some idea of the language spoken (I presume?) by your Romano Britons.

Yours very truly
Alfred H. Cocks

The Icelandic tapestries are presumably the rugs Pitt-Rivers obtained from Sigidr Magnusson, see Add.9455vol2_p520 /1 and on.

Transcribed by AP May/ June 2011 for the Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project

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