Provenance Seeks Mummy-Case

What does Mr Robert Nagengast have to do to send you home with this nearly flawless Ptolemaic or late-period mummy-case? He says he has to ask his manager, but he thinks he can even throw in a 1991 mauve Pontiac Bonneville in almost-working condition!

Robert Nagengast sells a mummy at his gallery. 1965.

“What Every Home Needs–A Mummy”

This is a press photo with a slug on the back with the title “What Every Home Needs–A Mummy” . It’s from the Baltimore Sun, and stamped with the date Dec 8, 1965, which I assume is close to the time the associated story ran if it ever did.  (Online archives of the Sun only go back to 1990.) A stamp on the back gives the photographer as Ralph Robinson. Unfortunately, the identity of the editor who saw fit to “enhance” Mr. Nagengast’s eyebrows and mustache with a black marker is unknown.


See? People were ‘shopping things before they had ‘shop.

In seriousness, though, the slug on the back reveals that Mr. Nagengast worked for Windsor Galleries on 1913 North Charles Street in Baltimore. He said in the article that his shop would be hosting the mummy-case for a couple of months before putting it on sale.

Mr. Nagengast apparently obtained the mummy from a private collection about which no further details are given. The article states that the mummy case is from the 4th -6th century, and I assume the author means “BC”, and 400-600 BCE seems a reasonable guess (for once). Note to self: Do more research on this style of mummy-case. The slug also points out that the mummy is not inside.

So where is Mr. Nagengast’s mummy case now? I’ve got no idea. It seems Windsor Galleries is long gone–gone enough not to leave a trace on Google. Google Maps shows an empty lot and an abandoned gas station at 1913 Charles in Baltimore.

Part of my reason for posting it is on the pie-in-the-sky hope that someone might see it and say “Hey, that looks like the mummy in the museum in my hometown!” I hope it’s still around, and maybe its current curators did not know about its stint in Mr. Nagengast’s gallery.  My other reason for posting this is that I think often we disregard the modern history of ancient artifacts–and this is an aspect of their history that I find fascinating.  If the famous Nefertiti bust could talk, her tales of the 20th century Germany would be at least as riveting as her stories of Akhetaten. Whether we like journey these objects have taken or not, whether it’s ethical or legal or even morally right, the journey is interesting. In the case of this somewhat portly businessman with his extra-dark ‘stache, hawking his mummy-case, it’s slightly humorous.

Text of the slug on the back:

What Every Home Needs--A Mummy
It may not be the latest in living room furniture, but for historians and Robert Nagengast, of 
the Windsor Galleries, it's a find. Specifically, it is an Egyptian mummy case (minus the 
mummy) dating back to the Fourth to Sixth Century. Mr. Nagengast obtained it from a pri-
vate collection. He said it will be on display at 19(?)13 North Charles street for several months be-
fore it goes on sale.
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