5: An Historic Archive Of Correspondence Relating To Th
An historic archive of correspondence relating to the re-establishment of the Olympic Games, including amongst others: i) a signed manuscript letter from Pierre de Coubertin written 25 days before the Opening Ceremony of the 1896 Athens Olympic Games ii) a signed manuscript letter from Crown Prince Constantine, President of the 1896 Olympic Games Organising Committee iii) a signed manuscript letter from Demetrius Vikelas, first President of the International Olympic Committee iv) a signed manuscript letter on 1896 Athens Olympic Organising Committee letterhead v) a signed manuscript letter dated 7th March 1896 from the future twice serving Prime Minister of France Georges Clemenceau, being a covering letter relating to an enclosure of a newspaper article he wrote about the re-establishment of the Games vi) a letter dated 14th March 1896 from Michel Breal, originator of the idea of a race from Marathon to Athens at the 1896 Games other signed manuscript letters all with Olympic content from: a) Count Charles de Moisys, b) a member of the Rodocanachi banking family c) Jules Claretie, General Director of the Theatre Francais d) Delegate Francis Charmes of the Chambre des Députés e) François-Auguste Gevaert on headed paper from the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles f) Henry Houssaye, a French historian and academician who wrote extensively on ancient Greece g) Delegate Paschal Grousset (politician, journalist and science fiction writer) on headed paper from the Chambre des Députés h) M. Hanotaux, French Minister for Foreign Affairs i) In French, undated and unsigned, on Greek headed paper from the Pan Hellenic Gymnastics Club with salutations appearing to be addressed to the King of Greece j) the lot including further letters all in a green leather album dated 1896, some items tipped in, others loose The Pierre de Coubertin letter is in French and dated 12th March 1896. The Baron's lengthy letter seemingly makes sure the recipient knows the re-establishment of the Olympic Games was the author's idea. Some of the hand writing is difficult but broadly speaking it translates to English as follows: [? Perhaps a name] asks what I think of this idea: I think it a good one and I believe I have several reasons for doing so. The most important of these is most assuredly because of the great care that others are taking to claim it. I don't know of anything written or published before 25 November 1892, the day I publicly proclaimed my project at a conference at the Sorbonne, that it would be good to establish an international Olympic Games, then every four years, for the champions of the world in an athletic contest - well, of course, no-one actually said it but now we find a large number of people did think it - only, how strange! They didn't think to say it out loud. Well that's where we are, one can't always think of everything! So you wish to know if I am still in the same [?]. With regard to [?] I have taken the initiative. Good god, yes - and I'll stick it out a long time, in all likelihood, as I am stubborn by nature. So that even if - and it's not impossible - the 1896 Olympic Games were going to fail and those of 1900 not take place, I would still persist in wanting to establish an institution which, so long as it was well tailored to modern needs and particularities, can by itself produce for 20th century athletics the beneficial effects generated by ancient athletics. I am among those who are in rebellion against the anti-human theories of the Middle Ages, which still weigh us down. I firmly believe in the noble moral characteristics of physical activity. In education, musculature should above all be considered in relation to character - via physical education we can give moral education. For this it is necessary for athletics to develop in conditions of elevation, disinterestedness and grandeur. That is the entire reason for the rebirth of the Olympic Games. In summary, there aren't many big problems to conquer, there is some jealousy to overcome, that's all. National jealousies coming from history, sporting jealousies coming from a certain narrowness of mind which opposes some forms of physical exercise and others - gymnasts can't bear 'sports', [?] and bicycle are at war, fencers with foils denigrate fencers with epees! These differences will disappear little by little and the Olympic Games themselves will pacify quarrels. I don't mean those between nations but between sportsmen! That's already a good result! Peace is something so good, so precious, so perfect that one can never make too much of an effort to shore it up and make it last. Was it in my ant colony! The letter from Crown Prince Constantine Diadochos is in Greek, on a letterhead with a crown from the General Administration of the Army, no date but a blank for 190x. The Crown Prince talks about 'the good days of the Olympic Games' and also about peace. The signed item from Demetrius Vikelas is in Greek and not dated and reads more of a formal statement than a piece of correspondence, and talks of the symbolism of reviving the Ancient Games, the construction of the Panathinaikou Stadium, the international character of the occasion, ancient Greeks' traditions, the representatives of the different nations who met in Athens, just as the representatives of the cities of the ancient Greeks were met by the Alpheion, the peaceful competition, and the close association with foreign visitors. Further translation of letters in this archive have been prepared during the research of the lot, and is available on request from the auctioneer. The original recipient of these letters is unknown, he is never named. The recipient would certainly be Greek but with strong links to France. He may have been a director of a Committee or possibly the Pan Hellenic Gymnastics Club. In general the papers can be characterised as a mixture of official statements and correspondence, and letters of support for the Olympic project. Provenance: Demetrius Caclamanos, and thence by family descent. These letters were originally in the possession of Demetrius Caclamanos who at the time of the Olympic revival was a young journalist. He was born in Nauplia, Greece, in 1872 son of General George and Arpasia Caclamanos, and grandson of Panayotic Caclamanos, one of the heroes of the Greek War of Independence. Demetrius left journalism in 1907 to enter the Diplomatic Service. He was Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs until 1910, and then served as a counsellor at the Greek Legation in Paris until 1912. He was Charge D'Affaires in Rome from 1912 to 1914, and then served as Minister to the United States in 1915, Minister to Petrograd 1915-1918 and as Minister to the Court of St James in London from 1918 to 1935. When he retired he was afforded the title of Minister Plenipotentiary of the 1st Class for Life. In addition to various foreign orders, he wore the Grand Cross of the Order of George I and was Knight Commander of the Order of the Redeemer. Away from politics, Mr Caclamanos was a director of British Investors Co. Ltd. and of the Shipping Marine Union, London. He was a member of St. James's Club, London. He was an expert in matters of Greek history and published two acclaimed works, Greece in Peace and War, and [Lord] Byron in Greece, as well as translating into modern Greek the writings of Thucydides (c. 460 BC - c. 395 BC).