[Harry Harkness Flagler, fabulously-wealthy son of the founder of Miami and Palm Beach, Florida.] Autograph Letter Signed to Mrs Helen Lossing Johnson, explaining why he declines to buy the New York diaries and other material she has sent him.

Harry Harkness Flagler (1870-1952), President of Philharmonic Symphony Society of New York, son of Henry Morrison Flagler (1830-1913), founder of Standard Oil and of Miami and Palm Beach, Floriida
Publication details: 
5 January 1933; on letterheads of 32 Park Avenue [New York].
SKU: 23828

Harry Harkness Flagler was son and heir to one of America’s greatest fortunes, inheriting the sumptuous Whitehall estate in Florida (now the Flagler Museum). The recipient was the wife of Frank Edgar Johnson, whose obituary is in New York Times, 5 December 1932 (‘Yonkers life insurance man was an authority on birds’). 6pp, four of which in 12mo and two in 8vo. On two bifoliums, each with the final page of text written lengthwise across the central opening. In envelope, with post mark and stamp, addressed by Flagler to ‘Mrs. Helen Lossing Johnson | 16 Amackassin Terrace’, and with ‘Yonkers | New York’ added (by a secretary?). In good condition, lightly aged. Folded twice. Signed ‘Harry Harkness Flagler’. He begins by apologizing for the length of time he has retained the things she has sent him (he has only just returned to his desk since coming back from his holidays, having fallen ‘a victim to the prevailing specimen of grippe’), before giving what he describes at the conclusion of the letter is a ‘discouraging’ report on them. He admits that he hasn’t ‘any idea of the value of the items you sent me, but the interest in the diaries for me would be in the possibility of their publication either privately or publicly at some time. This I am now told by authorities would be an impossibility as the right of publication would remain with the descendants of the family and I am told that one of them in Philadelphia has had such a project in mind for some time. He also owns the diary (the original) in part I understand.’ Another part of the diary is, as Mrs Johnson probably knows, in the possession of the New York Historical Society, and while Flagler was comparing with Mrs Johnson’s father’s copy, the librarian told him ‘that any copies of this kind of original documents [sic] has little commercial value [...] As to the <?> County items I do not find they are of sufficient importance to warrant my making you an offer on them.’ He explains that he is not ‘making a general Collection of <?> County items, but only of those which (like the P<?> Map) have a real significance’. Knowing the value she places on the items because of the ‘research and methodical care’ of her father, he will return them to her ‘by hand on Saturday’. He ends with thanks and renewed apologies. Note (via Google); Margaret Sweet Johnson (1893 - 1964) and her mother, Helen Lossing Johnson are probably best known for their books about dogs. The family were lovers of nature and art, and Margaret Johnson's father was a keen naturalist, specialising in ornithology. Helen Lossing Johnson, an artist, encouraged her daughter to study at the Academy of Design and the Art Students' League in New York. Mother and daughter collaborated on many books, with Margaret Johnson carrying on after her mother's death. Perhaps the material assessed by Flagler involved her father, the naturalist.?>?>