Lot 29
  • 29

Burton, Minnie

4,000 - 6,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Diary kept by the wife of the Egyptologist and photographer Harry Burton,
  • ink on paper
with detailed daily entries recording social engagements and memorable events, most notably relating to the excavation of the tomb of Tutankhamen ("...The sealed door was opened today. Mr Lythgoe & Mr Winlock & Mr Breasted went over - Harry & Mr Mace there. 15 (?) people present. Great excitement!...", 16 February 1923), in a lined account book, 400 pages, 8vo, written in Luxor and Cairo, also Florence, London, Salzburg, New York, Los Angeles, and other locations, 4 May 1922 to 20 October 1926, blue cloth, extensive loss at spine, lower cover detached 


Extracts quoted in T. G. H. James, Howard Carter: The Path to Tutankhamun (1992) and Christoper Frayling, The Face of Tutankhamun (1992)

Catalogue Note

"...Mr Carter showed us the Tutankhamen jewels - masses & masses of them ... rings, gold plaques in the shape of spread-winged vultures, inlaid bracelets & amulets. A lovely perfume box in gold & inlay on polished iron base, & 2 gorgeous daggers in sheathes, one with crystal stopper handle & polished iron blade, very sharp. Also the gold & inlaid mask, so like Akhnaton, in the gold coffin. Also the wonderful gold coffin lid ... We saw a hand of the mummy with the ring on & gold finger stalls & the head of the king, very small & well preserved, lacking nose..." (3 December 1925)

A first-hand account of the most famous archaeological excavation of all time. Minnie Burton was the wife of Harry Burton, the photographer for the Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum who spent eight years recording the excavation of the tomb of Tutankhamen. He was accompanied by his wife, whose diary records both the excitement of amazing moments of discovery and drama - from her first sight of the tomb to the death of Lord Carnarvon - but also the daily life at Luxor of those involved in the diggings. Minnie Burton records comings and goings at the magnificent Metropolitan Museum Expedition House in the Asasif at Luxor, both among the Egyptologists and also those - from Lord Allenby, the High Commissioner for Egypt, to The Queen of the Belgians and various American millionaires - who visited the site. Howard Carter himself is a strong presence in the diary, from his telegram announcing the "Discovery beyond the dreams of avarice", to his loan of a donkey to give Mrs Burton an early view of the tomb, to an argument ("...He was very rude...", 21 February 1923), to his delivery of the gold inner coffin and mask to the Egyptian authorities at the end of 1924.