24 FEBRUARY 1923, Page 15


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] Sra,—The first portion of the well-known Gardner collection of prints, paintings and drawings of old London is again to be offered for sale by public auction by Messrs. Sotheby on Monday next. The collection is unique in its richness of drawings and paintings, numbering between 9,000 and 10,000, and about 40,000 prints. In fact, it contains a larger number than are to be found in the British Museum, the Guildhall Library, the London Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum combined. It is believed that £20,000 would secure this collection for the nation, and if the prices paid by the British Museum in 1880 for the Craze and in 1898 for the Wilson collection are any guide-15,000 prints for £11,000— the Gardner collection at the price named would be a decided bargain, in view of the large percentage of paintings and drawings in the collection now under offer.

It will be remembered that in 1910 the late Sir Edward Coates purchased the collection for £17,500, and it was rumoured that some three years ago the collection might have been bought for £18,000, but the demand for old London prints and drawings has been greatly increased by the interest taken in such things by Americans, which naturally enhances the market value. When in America last year, in many clubs, museums and private collections I found a vast number of these prints.

We cannot prevent America from taking our gold, but at least let us retain some of our artistic treasures. But we must act at once. Sir William Bull, M.P., Stone Buildings, Lincoln's Inn, or myself, would gladly give further information or receive donations towards the proposed fund.—I am, Sir, &c., JOHN LANE. The Bodley Head, Vigo Street, London.