7174 -- MEER, RON VAN

Philipp Joseph Becker: A German businessman and collector in 19th century Mexico
Baessler-Archiv 53.2005:27-42
Keywords: Becker, P.J., collection, ethnographica, Mixtecs, archaeology, Codex Becker

##Although among scholars who study Mixtec pictorial manuscripts the name of Philipp J. Becker is quite familiar, much less is known about his life as a businessman and passionate collector of Mexican antiquities. In the 1850s Becker went to Mexico where he was to spend over twenty years in the city of Puebla. Owning a successful department store there, he was soon able to dedicate the necessary time and financial resources to build up an impressive collection of archaeological objects, books and manuscripts, including two Mixtec pictorial manuscripts which were named after him: the Codex Becker I and 11. After his return to Germany, Becker"s collection was exhibited at his home in Darmstadt until his death in 1895. Two years later it was purchased by Georg Haas who donated it to the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna, where it is held today. Drawing on Becker"s correspondence with his relatives and with Swiss naturalist Henri de Saussure, we are now much better informed about his activities as a collector of Mexican antiquities. His letters also provide new information about the possible chain of provenance for the Codex Becker I and other pictorial manuscripts.##