Album leaves:Sir Ronald Macleay and the British Legation in Prague, Czechoslovakia, 1927-1929

[Tomas G. Masaryk; Jan Masaryk; Sir Ronald Macleay]
Publication details: 
SKU: 23216

Sir (James William) Ronald Macleay (1870-1943) was educated at Charterhouse and Balliol College, Oxford. He entered the diplomatic service in 1895. According to his obituary in The Times, 8 March 1943, Macleay 'achieved much' in 'an unostentatious way', during a diplomatic career spanning four decades, and was known by his colleagues as 'the Worthy Master'. His entry in Who Was Who states that he 'served in different capacities in Washington, Copenhagen, Brussels, Madrid, Constantinople, Belgrade, Mexico, the Foreign Office, and again in Brussels, where he represented HM Government at the 2nd Conference for the Unification of Commercial Statistics; Counsellor of Embassy to HM Legation at Peking, 1914; Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Argentine Republic, 1919-22; British Minister to China, 1922-26; to Czechoslovakia, 1927-29; British Ambassador to the Argentine Republic, 1930-33'. In 1938 Macleay would return to Prague as chairman of the Lord Mayor of London's committee for Czech refugees and to administer the Lord Mayor's fund.The present album was probably compiled by Macleay's wife, Lady Evelyn Macleay (c.1869-1960), second daughter of Sir Robert Peel, 3rd Bart (1822-1895), and Lady Emily Hay, daughter of the Marquess of Tweeddale. On her death, 'A Friend' wrote in The Times (27 August 1960) that she was 'admirably suited' to accompany her husband to 'the 12 capitals to which his diplomatic duties had taken them': 'Equally at home in French or English, her talent for languages extended to Chinese, and her knowledge and collections of stamps and porcelain were exceptional. In each post her wit, intelligence, and forthright charm endeared her to many. [...] Evelyn Macleay will long be remembered for her spirit of fun'.The collection comprises 140 photographs (including several taken at Macleay's reception in Prague as Ambassador), two letters (including one from the future Czech foreign minister Jan Masaryk), two telegrams from King George V, engravings, postcards, newspaper articles relating to the legation, together with around 300 autographs (mainly British, but some foreign dignitaries including President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk). It is lightly-aged but in good condition, with the photographs and other items laid down on 37 pages of a 30 x 40cm landscape album, with the autographs written around them. The 20 gilt-edged leaves of the album are separated and loose, the album having been disbound, with only the worn black morocco boards and endpapers remaining from the binding. The boards have gilt dentelles, and the front board is stamped 'BRITISH LEGATION PRAGUE | 1927 - [blank]'. Macleay's mission lasted three years and was relatively unremarkable, but the present collection gives an interesting insight into the state of Czechoslovakia during the first decade of its existence.- The autographs of President Masaryk (dated 19 April 1928) and his wife Alice. Other autographs include: Czech wartime foreign minister Jan Masaryk, General Victor Hoppe, K. C. Bowman-Manifold, Herbert Samuel, Rennie Smith, Laurence Lyon, Viola Erskine, Rosamund Veletier, Betty Locker-Lampson, Charles Dodd, Olivia Baring, Wilfred Stephenson, Alec Hutchinson, Gordon Vereker, R. W. Seton-Watson, Henry J. Lunn, John Bernard Seely, Elizabeth Brook Gittings, Clive Morrison Bell.- Two photograph of President Masaryk in state apartment, one with figure in court dress (Macleay?), who features alone in a third picture. With three outdoor scenes, captioned in manuscript 'Reception at the by President Masaryk June 1927'. Together the six photographs would appear to relate to Macleay's diplomatic reception, the outdoor scenes featuring a horse-drawn coach and military guard.- Two telegrams from 'george r i' (i.e. King George V) to Macleay, one from London and the other from Windsor, thanking him for his 'message of congratulations on my birthday'.- 5 drypoint etchings of Czech scenes, each signed in pencil (by '').- Two photographs with manuscript note: 'Doorway of the Monastery before it became the German Legation'.- Printed programme for a Christmas entertainment at the Legation in 1929, including a theatrical piece ('Thirteen') featuring Sir Ronald as 'Dr. Power An Irish country doctor', and Lady Evelyn as 'Blanche Hilary A fascinating Widow'.- Autograph Letter Signed (1p., 4to) in English from the wartime Czech foreign minister Jan Masaryk (1886-1948). On letterhead of the Czechoslovak Minister in London, 9 Grosvenor Place, 22 January 1930. 'I am sorry dear friends, that you have decided to leave us after all. Our best wishes go with you and I do hope there will be a memory or two of old-new Prague worth taking with you. In my modest way I thoroughly enjoyed having you on the other end doing so well what we are endeavouring to do in London. I have just telephoned the bad and good news to my wife - she does not like it.'- Two menus, one for a dinner at the Papal Legation and the other at the Austrian Legation, both covered with the autographs of those present.- Two more menus with names of guests written in pencil, including one for a 'Diner en l'honneur de L.L.E.E. Sir James et Lady Macleay'.- Photographs of: sporting scenes (golf, hunting, skiing) and outdoor pursuits (skating in the snow), domestic scenes. Among the hunting scenes are five outdoor photographs, including one posed, of a large group with shotguns, together with a photograph of a man (Macleay?) shooting, and another of him holding a large fish.- Photographs of the fronts of the Romanian, Dutch and Italian legations.- Three newspaper cuttings, including two relating to Macleay's appointment as ambassador to Buenos Aires. - Two photographs of 'Pres Masaryk's Summer Residence' at Topolcianky.- Ten small photographs of Prague landmarks, each with manuscript caption.- Photographs of various individuals in outdoor (hunting?) clothes.- A number of postcard photographs of Czech landscapes and buildings, several with manuscript captions.- Two photographs of a military figure on horseback, in one of which he leads a group of cavalrymen.- Three photographs of crowds watching men wading in water, with manuscript caption: 'Annual Draught of Fishes in theh Lakes near Trebon'. Also six small photographs of a crowd on a river bank, probably taken at the same event.- A Typed Letter Signed to Lady Macleay from Anne Pennington Carter of the British Institute of Industrial Art, 29 August 1928, thanking the Macleays for 'the charming hospitality given by you to the British members of the art congress'.?>?>