Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Crockett Contretemps Update

The Austin American-Statesman has some news from the Crockett Letter front: Regina Davis reports that part of the reason the Texas Historical Commission moved so quickly to purchase the letter may have been that "the agency had to spend or commit to spend the money in its Texas Historic Artifacts Fund by the end of the fiscal year, Aug. 31, or the money, about $800,000, would be returned to the state treasury."

THC chairman John Nau says this isn't so: "
'I'm comfortable with it,' he said of the commission's handling of the purchase process. 'We built into the agreement with the owner that we would have 120 days to authenticate the document, which is adequate time to do the work. We are right on schedule to get the right answer.'"

Davis adds details from an emergency conference call meeting of the THC on 28 August for the purpose of approving the purchase of the letter; she reports that THC member Diane Bumpas "
had reservations about the cost of the letter, saying that the price did not compare with what she had seen other documents sell for at auction." She also notes that John Nau and Ray Simpson III, the letter's seller, "had a longstanding business relationship," and that Nau had purchased items for his personal collection from Simpson's gallery. "Nau said his prior dealings with Simpson had no bearing on how the situation was handled."

Monday was the deadline for interested parties to submit proposals for forensic document analysts and handwriting experts to authenticate the document. Federal Forensic Associates Inc. of Raleigh, N.C., the only bidder, was selected for the forensic document analysis, which determines the age of the paper and ink, and tests whether a document has been falsely aged. The contract is for $17,000, which will be paid by the commission, and the firm can immediately begin its analysis, commission spokeswoman Adrienne Reams said. No proposals were submitted by handwriting experts, so the commission is extending the deadline for that position until Oct. 29, Reams said."

Handwriting experts, here's your chance!