The ease and rapidity with which an American collector of antiques can rush to Europe and squander fifteen hundred thousand dollars for trifles of remote historical interest strikes the mere proletarian with a sense of awe. Such a performance is in itself history--or it would have been, if the headline under which the newspaper report of the latest expatiation appeared. "Resenbach Bae's With Napoleon's White Breeches," were not more suggestive of fast work by a second-story man than of dignified collecting. One visualizaes, somehow, not a fine old antiquarian, displaying his acquisitions with solemn pride, but an impertinent juvenile, dancing up and down on Sandy Hook triumphantly waving the Imperial Knickerbockers.
Aside from various books and letters of value, a million and a half dollars seems a high price for such relies as those with which Dr. Rosenbach returned. Death masks are ornamental, of course, and a "fine Holland shirt" would probably survive at least one session with the washerwoman: but what secret passion could be satisfied by a "picket containing Napoleon's Hair", and a mummified tendon from the body of the Emperor, in a strange little box with a glass window", is hard for the layman to under stand. Moments of so distinctly personal a character might better have been decently buried.
One wonders why Dr. Rosenbach did not leave his treasures, including the hair and the strange little box with the mass window in the hands of their original owners. In most of its manifestations, especially where it is a question of chewing gum wrappers and clear capons the mania of collection serves some slight purpose, but when if details an expenditure of over over a million dollars, and results mainly a fascinating juts of corpses, the game seems hardly worth the candle Phere are so many more interesting things that a really clever scender could do with the money.