Dr. James MacCallum to Mr. John Thomson, September 1, 1917

September 1, 1917
1/IX/17

Dear Sir

I have got home from my holidays and will have some spare time shortly and I want to know about that leather trunk whether you have found it or not, and what it is like, so that I can make a search for it. A thing like a trunk can scarcely disappear. I saw Mr. Harkness on Saturday last and arranged so that he got the money out of the bank. At first they were bound to make us get out letters of administration. When Harkness demurred they wanted me to take them out, but by saying I would go to the General Manager — a relative of mine — they agreed to a bond which both Harkness and I signed, so that is finished.

The fellows go north tomorrow night to Canoe Lake and will get busy at the Cairn within a week or so. I want to buy some of these last sketches of Tom’s especially the little ones – you set the price and I will pay it. I want you also to give me your ideas as to prices to be asked the National Gallery. I broached the idea to the Curator that they should buy 40 or 50 of the sketches and keep them as an Encyclopedia of the North Country. He seemed to be impressed with the idea but said his trustees had to go cautiously during war time – I see by the papers that their appropriation for buying pictures was cut off, but they can always get credit from the Bank of Commerce of which one trustee is President. He thought he ought to have some at least tentative amount which could be discussed between him and me before anything official presentation to his board.

There of course he had me, because I hesitated to name any price. I was offered $20000 the other day for the picture with those two pine trees in deep blue (after sunset) but as I was prepared to pay more than that myself I said nothing [doing?]. I have traced up some sketches to a magazine editor – he was given 7 or 8 to choose from – he told Tom he could not pay more than ten dollars a piece and was to take 4 – now he wants to give me a cheque for $4000 and return the balance – His story is corroborated by Williamson who was present during the transaction – One good thing is that in my judgement he had rotten taste in selecting them. Another factor is that we shall want to make use of his magazine – What do you advise? Cummings wants to be allowed to meet any offer made for that moonlight picture in his studio – which you saw – The Insurance agent returned the sketch through Mr. Davidson and Mr. Harkness – It was standing on my desk after Harkness left and a patient said I will give you $2500for that now, so we will not lose on it – What am I to do in such an event – I hate to let money get away for this war is going to make money very tight here – yet I cannot say yes until I have your consent – This man has money and I can probably talk $3000 or more out of him if you say so. I am rushing off for my train for Georgian Bay and will write if anything further occurs to me on my return on Monday 3rd Sept.

Yours,

James MacCallum

(LAC MG30 D284 'Tom Thomson collection', Vol. 1 File 5)