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Finding aid for the Charles Fellows correspondence, 1820-1879 (bulk 1839-1852)
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Charles Fellows correspondence
    Date (inclusive): 1820-1879 (bulk 1839-1852)
    Number: 970014
    Creator/Collector: Fellows, Charles, Sir, 1799-1860
    Physical Description: 0.5 linear feet (ca. 370 items)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: Collection comprises drafts and handwritten copies of letters, as well as notes and inventories written and received by the British archaeologist Sir Charles Fellows (1820-1879). The letters and inventories describe Fellows's expeditions to Lycia, in present day Turkey, and most particularly, his excavation of Xanthus. Correspondence also concerns the display of Lycian artifacts at the British Museum.
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    Language: Collection material is in English

    Biographical/Historical Note

    Sir Charles Fellows (1799-1860) was an English explorer and archaeologist, best known for his expeditions in Asia Minor, especially in the district of ancient Lycia (in present-day Turkey). During his first journey to this area in 1838, he discovered the ruins of the ancient town of Xanthus. The publication in 1839 of his journal of this expedition aroused great interest, particularly at the British Museum, which requested that he bring artifacts back to England on subsequent voyages. The museum helped arrange a royal decree (firman) from the Sultan to enable Fellows to take away Lycian architectural remnants and sculpture. The firman was obtained in 1842 while Fellows was on his third expedition to the area. At the end of that year he shipped 78 cases from Xanthus to the British Museum. In 1844 he extracted an additional 27 cases of artifacts.
    Eventually, Fellows's relationship with the British Museum Trustees changed from one of mutual support to a battle over the design of the display of Xanthian marbles. Fellows argued that the artifacts should be arranged according to archaeological principles, and bitterly criticized the display the sculptor Sir Richard Westmacott produced for the museum.
    Fellows published several accounts of his travels and discoveries in Lycia. In his publication, The Xanthian marbles (London: John Murray, 1843) Fellows describes his view of the incidents connected with the acquisition of the marbles, in order to correct mistaken accounts and rumors. His other publications include The Inscribed monument at Xanthus ( 1842), An Account of discoveries in Lycia ( 1841), and his first, A Journal written during an excursion in Asia Minor 1838, ( 1839).

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Charles Fellows correspondence, 1820-1879, bulk 1839-1852, Getty Reseach Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 970014

    Acquisition Information

    The collection was acquired in 1997 at Christie's auction, London, Nov 27, 1996. One letter, from Fellows to Desire Raoul-Rochette dated 1843, was acquired in 1985 (Special Collections accn. no. 850423) and moved to this collection.

    Processing History

    Jocelyn Gibbs processed, arranged and cataloged the collection. She wrote this finding aid. The collection was microfilmed by the repository and a copy of the microfilm given to the British Museum.

    Alternate Form

    Also available in the repository on microfilm.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Charles Fellows correspondence consists of letters, notes, inventories, and cash accounts, dating from 1820-1879, and including undated items. All are handwritten in ink or pencil. A few items are handwritten copies of letters and accounts. Correspondents include people associated with the British Museum, as well as experts and scholars, some of whom accompanied Fellows on his expeditions. Fellows's letters are primarily drafts, many to unidentified correspondents. The bulk of the material dates from 1839-1852. The few items that date after 1859 (1869-1879) appear to be addressed to Lady Fellows. One folder contains signatures torn from letters.
    Fellows's letters and notes, several written from Asia Minor, detail his expeditions, the attempt to get permission to ship architectural remnants and sculpture from Xanthus to London, travel arrangements, discussions with other scholars, and arrangements with his creditors. Some letters provide an exchange of information about language and wildlife, especially birds and insects, in Asia Minor. Inventories itemize the sculpture, building fragments and other objects excavated from a site (probably Xanthus), list the workers, tools and equipment.
    Letters to and from Fellows, dated after 1842, reflect his dispute with the Trustees of the British Museum over the display of the Xanthus marbles at the museum. He argued for an arrangement based on archaeological principles and against the exhibition design by the sculptor Sir Richard Westmacott. Lists of accounts and letters reflect cash spent on salaries and equipment during his expeditions, as well as London book sales and bookbinding costs of Fellows's several publications, most published by J. Murray. Many letters are from people associated with the British Museum, including Edward Hawkins, Keeper of Antiquities; J. Forshall, Secretary of the Trustees; and William Hamilton. Other correspondents include the photographer William Henry Fox Talbot, the architect Robert Hesketh, who accompanied Fellows to Xanthus, the Austrian orientalist Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall, the topographer William Martin Leake, and the English naturalist Edward Forbes.

    Arrangement note

    The collection is arranged in one series, organized by date, with undated items at the end.

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Fellows, Charles, Sir, 1799-1860
    Talbot, William Henry Fox, 1800-1877
    Westmacott, Richard, Sir

    Subjects - Corporate Bodies

    British Museum

    Subjects - Topics

    Art--Exhibition techniques
    Excavations (Archaeology)--Turkey--Lycia
    Excavations (Archaeology)--Turkey--Xanthos (Extinct city)
    Sculpture, Ancient--Turkey
    Xanthos (Extinct city)

    Subjects - Places


    Genres and Forms of Material



    Forshall, Josiah, 1795-1863
    Hamilton, William John, 1805-1867
    Hammer-Purgstall, Joseph, Freiherr von, 1774-1856
    Hawkins, Edward, 1780-1867
    Hesketh, Robert, architect
    Leake, William Martin, 1777-1860
    Talbot, William Henry Fox, 1800-1877