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-   -   Acquiring A Victorian Diary (http://forum.casebook.org/showthread.php?t=10128)

David Orsam 02-18-2017 11:22 AM

Acquiring A Victorian Diary
 
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I have tracked down the advertisement placed on behalf of Mike Barrett for an unused or partly used diary dating from 1880-1890 which had to have a minimum of 20 blank pages.

It was placed by Martin E. Earl in Bookdealer, the trade weekly for books wanted and for sale, issue No. 1044, dated 19th March 1992. An image of the advertisement is reproduced below.

The request for this diary appears in a long advert - in the BOOKS WANTED section - with a further (by my count) 86 requests by Earl for various books (one can see a couple more in the below image) in a total of (by my count) 104 lines. The way it worked was that bookdealers were given a special rate of 22.5p per line. Given that the ad for the diary was over two lines, it would have cost Martin Earl only 45p to place the ad for the diary, which I assume was included in his margin when he sold the 1891 diary to Barrett.

On that basis, it seems likely that Mike Barrett never even knew of the existence of this advertisement (and was probably never asked to pay for it). It was simply a cheap way that a bookfinding company like Earl's would find obscure books on behalf of its clients.

In 1992, Martin E. Earl was based in Oxford. His address and two telephone numbers were provided at the top of the advertisement. The company trading as Martin E. Earl in 1992 appears to have become H.P. Bookfinders in 1995.

According to the Casebook transcript, Mike Barrett in his affidavit of 5 January 1995 said that his wife used "a firm in the 1986 Writters (sic) Year Book" to find the diary (although he could not remember their name). By this he must have meant The Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 1986 (which is certainly how Shirley Harrison transcribes it in her book).

However, The Writers' & Artists' Yearbook 1986 does not include entries for any bookfinding companies (so that there is no entry for Martin E. Earl or, obviously, H.P. Bookfinders). Consequently, Martin E. Earl's details were not found by either of the Barretts in there. However the contact details of Rupert Crew Limited (of which Doreen Montgomery was a director) and also of Pan Books, which Barrett is supposed to have contacted before contacting Doreen, are both to be found in the Yearbook. Perhaps Barrett got confused when he came to write his affidavit.

We can be certain that either Mike or Anne DID locate and contact Martin E. Earl in March 1992 so that the error with recalling how he (or she) did so would appear to be a good example of an innocent mistake of recollection.

Finally, I can confirm that in March 1992 Outhwaite & Litherland held auctions once a week, every Tuesday, so that the first auction held after Barrett would have received the 1891 diary would have been on Tuesday, 31 March 1992. The auction (like other auctions in that month), held at Kingsway Galleries, Fontenoy Street, Liverpool, was described in antique magazines as being for "Victorian, Edwardian & modern furniture and effects". It started at 10.30am. Had Barrett taken 11 days to forge the diary as he claims in his affidavit and, had he started work on 31 March, the writing would have been finished on 10 April. He went to see Doreen in London on 13 April.

jmenges 02-18-2017 12:40 PM

Hi David,

What do you make of Anne Graham's check that she made out to Martin Earl for 25 to pay for the diary being dated 18 May 1992 and that the auctioneers have denied that they conduct their sales like Barnett says and failed to locate a Lot number or description of an item such as Barnett claims he bought?

Thanks

JM

Iconoclast 02-19-2017 02:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jmenges (Post 409126)
Hi David,

What do you make of Anne Graham's check that she made out to Martin Earl for 25 to pay for the diary being dated 18 May 1992 and that the auctioneers have denied that they conduct their sales like Barnett says and failed to locate a Lot number or description of an item such as Barnett claims he bought?

Thanks

JM

Oh dear ...

jmenges 02-19-2017 06:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Iconoclast (Post 409163)
Oh dear ...

What? Asking for an opinion on something gets me an 'Oh Dear...' ?

That phrase is handed out like free candy in Ripperology but it's been a long long time since I've been awarded one myself.

Thanks

JM

David Orsam 02-19-2017 11:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jmenges (Post 409126)
What do you make of Anne Graham's check that she made out to Martin Earl for 25 to pay for the diary being dated 18 May 1992 and that the auctioneers have denied that they conduct their sales like Barnett says and failed to locate a Lot number or description of an item such as Barnett claims he bought?

Hi JM,

To answer your questions:

1. There is no doubt (as relayed in 'Inside Story', p. 237) that the 1891 diary was sent to Mike Barrett by Martin E. Earl on 26 March 1992. It would, no doubt, have included an invoice for payment, presumably to be paid within 30 days. The invoice was not paid by the end of April and so I assume a chasing letter was sent which resulted in Anne Graham paying by cheque on 18 May 1992.

2. It is true that Kevin Whay, a director of Outhwaite & Litherland, has said of Barrett's account of purchasing the Victorian scrapbook in an O&L auction that, "we do not have never conducted our sales in the manner in which he describes". Unfortunately he did not explain what the problem with Barrett's account was. In his affidavit, Barrett says that after his winning bid, "I was given a ticket on which was marked the item number and the price I had bid. I then had to hand this ticket over to the Office and I paid 50. The ticket was stamped.....I then returned to the Auction Room with my stamped ticket and handed it over to an assistant, a young man, who gave me the Lot I had purchased." On this forum back in August, a poster, who was an antique dealer based in the north of England during the 1990s, and who said the method employed by the auction houses he attended during that time was nearly identical, confirmed that if you replace the word "ticket" with "receipt" in Barrett's affidavit then Barrett's account would be generally consistent with how auction houses worked at that time. So it is possible that Kevin Whay was misled by a poor choice of word by Mike Barrett.

3. Kevin Whay also stated that a search of O&L's records was carried out "on both sides of the alleged sale date" and found that "no such description or lot number corresponding with Barrett's statement exists". The problem here is that in his affidavit Barrett identified the sale date as being in January or February 1990. So that means that the search of O&L's records would have been carried out on either side of Jan/Feb 1990. Which naturally suggests that the records of the O&L auction carried out on 31 March 1992 would not have been searched.

Iconoclast 02-19-2017 01:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jmenges (Post 409169)
What? Asking for an opinion on something gets me an 'Oh Dear...' ?

That phrase is handed out like free candy in Ripperology but it's been a long long time since I've been awarded one myself.

Thanks

JM

I wouldn't take it personally. You obviously haven't been following The Greatest Thread of All is all ...

caz 02-21-2017 05:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by David Orsam (Post 409121)
Finally, I can confirm that in March 1992 Outhwaite & Litherland held auctions once a week, every Tuesday, so that the first auction held after Barrett would have received the 1891 diary would have been on Tuesday, 31 March 1992. The auction (like other auctions in that month), held at Kingsway Galleries, Fontenoy Street, Liverpool, was described in antique magazines as being for "Victorian, Edwardian & modern furniture and effects". It started at 10.30am. Had Barrett taken 11 days to forge the diary as he claims in his affidavit and, had he started work on 31 March, the writing would have been finished on 10 April. He went to see Doreen in London on 13 April.

Excellent work, David. Now wouldn't it be good if we had any independent witnesses to where the Barretts were, and what they were actually doing (or not doing), between Tuesday 31st March and Sunday 12th April 1992?

With Mike and Anne's help, you have narrowed down the time frame for the diary's actual creation admirably.

It's going to be an eventful year, all things considered. Two conferences, one in London in August, t'other in Liverpool in September, both featuring the 25th anniversary of the diary's emergence in 1992, and the ongoing questions surrounding its origins.

All this, despite the 'crucial' ad, requesting a diary with blank pages, having been in the public domain for nearly a decade.

Love,

Caz
X

StevenOwl 02-21-2017 01:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by David Orsam (Post 409194)
2. It is true that Kevin Whay, a director of Outhwaite & Litherland, has said of Barrett's account of purchasing the Victorian scrapbook in an O&L auction that, "we do not have never conducted our sales in the manner in which he describes". Unfortunately he did not explain what the problem with Barrett's account was. In his affidavit, Barrett says that after his winning bid, "I was given a ticket on which was marked the item number and the price I had bid. I then had to hand this ticket over to the Office and I paid 50. The ticket was stamped.....I then returned to the Auction Room with my stamped ticket and handed it over to an assistant, a young man, who gave me the Lot I had purchased." On this forum back in August, a poster, who was an antique dealer based in the north of England during the 1990s, and who said the method employed by the auction houses he attended during that time was nearly identical, confirmed that if you replace the word "ticket" with "receipt" in Barrett's affidavit then Barrett's account would be generally consistent with how auction houses worked at that time. So it is possible that Kevin Whay was misled by a poor choice of word by Mike Barrett.

I find it utterly risible to suggest that the director of an auction house didn't recognise a description of the auction process undertaken at his own business purely because Barrett used the word 'ticket' instead of 'receipt'.

David Orsam 02-21-2017 01:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by StevenOwl (Post 409321)
I find it utterly risible to suggest that the director of an auction house didn't recognise a description of the auction process undertaken at his own business purely because Barrett used the word 'ticket' instead of 'receipt'.

As I've already mentioned, a member of this forum, who was was an antique dealer based in the north of England during the 1990s, has agreed that, if the word 'ticket' is replaced with the word 'receipt', then Barrett's account is generally consistent with how auction houses worked at that time.

So did Outhwaite & Litherland conduct their auctions in a radically different manner to other auction houses? Unfortunately, Kevin Whay did not explain how O&L conducted their auctions and in what respect that was different to the manner described by Barrett.

In the circumstances, I don't think my suggestion is 'risible'. If O&L did not hand tickets to winning bidders it might well have prompted Whay to dismiss the account.

David Orsam 02-23-2017 12:18 PM

One question that might be asked is: when did Martin Earl submit the advertisement to Bookdealer?

Well Bookdealer was published every Thursday and the instruction to advertisers of "Books Wanted" was this:

"Lists to appear once only should be addressed to Bookdealer, PO Box 1082, Winscombe, Avon BS24 6BX to arrive first post Wednesday for inclusion in the next week's issue."

What I think this means is that to get his ad into the issue dated 19th March 1992, Martin Earl needed to get his list to Bookdealer by first class post on Wednesday 11th March 1992. This in turn means that the latest he could have sent his list by first class post would have been on Tuesday 10th March 1992.

Given that Mike Barrett spoke to Doreen Montgomery on 9th and 10th March, then if we assume that the advert was placed in response to his conversations with Doreen, Mike wasted no time in contacting Martin Earl. In fact, if I have correctly interpreted the Bookdealer's instructions, he must have done so almost immediately after speaking to Doreen.


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