[Mary Proctor, astronomer.] 25 items from her papers, including four early photographic portraits, two Autograph Letters Signed from the astrophysicist Alfred Fowler, a book contract, receipts, a bill of sale.
25 items. in good condition, lightly aged and worn. A small but evocative collection, ranging from a bill of sale of the family's effects in the year following the death of Mary Proctor's father in 1888, to a letter from her cousin in 1931, reprimanding her for spending too much money on unnecessary tickets. Mary Proctor was born in Dublin to British parents; the early part of her life was spent in the United States, and following the First World War she settled in England. As her entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states, Mary Proctor was 'known as the children's astronomer', and 'gained lasting reputation by her books'. ONE to FOUR: Four cabinet card (16 x 10.5 cm) portraits of MP, by the photographers: Aimé Dupont of New York; J. W. Graham of St Joseph, Missouri; Rockwood of New York; of St Joseph, Missouri. The Graham photograph is particularly attractive, showing MP in fur-trimmed winter coat, gloves and hat, leaning against a carved cabinet. None of the four images is present in the National Portrait Gallery collection. FIVE: Carte-de-visite portrait by the Montreal photographer William Notman of MP's father Richard Anthony Proctor. In good condition. A copy of this image, in poorer condition, is in the National Portrait Gallery collection (NPG Ax18211). SIX and SEVEN: Two Autograph Letters Signed (both 'A. Fowler') from the astrophysicist Alfred Fowler. The first on Imperial College letterhead; the second on letterhead of 19 Rusthall Avenue, Bedford Park, London. 6 and 7 March 1931. Both 2pp., 12mo. Regarding the payment of accounts to individuals including Sir Frank Dyson. In the second letter he expresses regret that she has had 'these troubles about money matters', and the hope that 'there are better times in store for you'. EIGHT and NINE: Book contract between MP and the New York Publisher William Beverley Harison, for 'Star and Constellation Guide and Supplementary Hand Books'. Dated 10 October 1900. 3pp., foolscap 8vo. Typewritten onto printed form, with typewritten additions on slips, and signed by MP, Harison and a witness. With duplicated notice (1p., foolscap 8vo) of Harison's bankruptcy by Thomas Alexander, Clerk of the New York District Court. TEN: Transcription by MP of prose-poem titled 'Voices of the Suns | By Richard A. Proctor' (published in his 'Universe of Suns', 1884). 4pp., 12mo. Begins: 'I watched the depths of darkness infinite, bestrewn with stars, | Till dreaming I beheld, from out the mystic realms beyond my ken, | A star come forth with ever gliding rush'. With emendations, and exhibiting some variation from the printed text. ELEVEN: Autograph Letter Signed from her cousin Edward Proctor Mullins, 2 December 1930, declining to stand as guarantor for a loan: 'It has always been one of the strictest rules of the Bank of England that we are not allowed to undertake any form of guarantee [...] You must be more careful with your money & not spend it on unnecessary tickets. I cannot go on sending money'. TWELVE: Typed Letter Signed to MP from R. B. Bradford, Chief, United States Bureau of Equipment, Navy Department, 11 July 1901, regarding the 'utility for the naval service' of 'star charts of the northern and southern hemisphere'. THIRTEEN to FIFTEEN: Two Typed Letters Signed to MP from the London literary agents Christy & Moore, the first lacking the last leaf; the second signed by Leonard P. Moore. 18 September and 16 December 1931. The first letter responds positively to her proposal to write a book on 'Total Eclipses of the Sun' ('I do not regard it by any means as a "trifle that is not worth while bothering with"'), and denies the claim that 'I "ask too big a price for your manuscripts"'. The second letter relates to the possibility of a German translation of her 'Evenings with the Stars' by Curt Thesing (1879-1956): 'As Dr. Kurt Thesing points out, it would be hopeless to bring it out during the present economic crisis'. With royalty statement from Christy & Moore, regarding MP's account with the New York publishers Harper Brothers, January to June 1931. SIXTEEN: Autograph bill of sale by Mrs Sallie Vawter Harris, with 'Schedule of goods, chattels and merchandise hereby sold' ('house hold stuff and furniture') by 'Mary Proctor Jno. M. Proctor & H. P. Proctor, St Joseph, Missouri, 13 March 1889. SEVENTEEN to NINETEEN: Three receipts to Proctor from the Lecture Agency Limited, London, dated January 1930 and October and December 1931, for lectures in Edinburgh, Gunnersbury, Leigh, Sudbury, Bradford, Stone and Shifnal. On the back of the last receipt are pencil notes by MP, beginning: 'The largest telescope on earth shows about two million regular shaped nebulae.' TWENTY to TWENTY-TWO: Receipts for MP's membership subscriptions to the British Astronomical Association, Royal Astronomical Society and Writers Club, the last from 1929, the others from 1931. TWENTY-THREE: Faded late nineteenth-century photograph of a lady (MP?) in a rickshaw, 11 x 8 cm. TWENTY-FOUR: Photograph (from book?) of three images of 'Saturn and his rings', dated in caption to 1856 and 1862. TWENTY-FIVE: Simple pencil diagram, on letterhead of Bowen Court, Pasadena, California.?>