Friday, 5 December 2014

"Hamdy Sakr collection" of Egyptian artefacts

Somebody was asking me about a "Hamdy Sakr collection" of Egyptian artefacts formed in London in the 1960-70s given as the provenance of some antiquities (including papyri) currently on the market.  It is rather odd that it seems this alleged former collection is represented only as the given provenance of a series of objects from a single UK dealer and, as far as I can see nowhere else. There seem, for example, to be no museums in the UK which have items donated by this guy when alive. How to explain the odd collecting history of the group as a whole? Did the guy die in the 1970s and his kids only recently (34 years later) decided to put the stuff on the market and sold it as a job lot to one US dealer? Perhaps that's it.

If it was sold as a job lot, we may reconstruct  Mr Hamdy's collecting habits from what is now on the market. He had a rather odd relatively restricted range of items in his collection. They are mostly types commonly found on dealers' websites, and several of them occur in duplicates. There are above all a number of scarabs, mostly of the type and style awfully reminiscent of those of somewhat idiosyncratic features that are currently on sale in bulk by a certain middle eastern seller discussed on this blog in the past. Does that mean this source has a history going back to the 1970s?  There are also a number of duplicate freshly restrung bead mummy masks, and amulets of various materials. There are also some Coptic items and a whole load of papyri. These are an interesting group:

Lot 77 Rare Egyptian papyrus of Homer's Iliad  $1,750 (9 bids)

Lot 78 3 Egyptian papyrus fragments with demotic script  $400 (starting bid)
Lot 80 Large Egyptian papyrus fragment...  $300 (starting bid)
Lot 81 A group of 6 Egyptian papyrus fragments  $400 (1 bid)
Lot 82 A large and beautiful Egyptian Demotic... $700 (3 bids)

Most of them are framed in DIY-store frames "12 ¼ in x 10 ¼ in (31 x 26 cm)" in size which seems an odd measurement for frames allegedly made in the 1960s. They also have no trace of any kind of 'patina'. Perhaps they've been recently reframed (but the condition report should state that). It would seem from the way the papyri have slid about inside the frame they are held in position only by pressure against the glass.

It strikes me that anyone can claim "an old German collection", just as anyone can make up a name and say "old collection of Jacek Kowalski formed in London in the 1960-70s", or Thomas Alcock formed in London in the 1960-70s", or "John Smith formed in London in the 1960-70s", The combination "Hamdy Sakr" is not an uncommon one among the living and dead either - so it is somewhat difficult to see which gentleman of that name would be the one who had such odd tastes in collecting ancient Egyptian artefacts which have surfaced, apparently together, on the Californian market just now
The seller is Gabriel Vandervort, Ancient Resources LLC, Montrose, CA.

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