This sub-subseries primarily consists of legal documents and related correspondence that track the legal arguments and judicial rulings in the location, care and exhibition of the John G. Johnson Collection--from the time of its bequest to the City in 1919 to the early 1980s.
Identified by a term used in legal practice, the "Bibles" beginning this sub-subseries are four binders of documents, most of which were filed with the Orphans' Court of Philadelphia on behalf of the City, Trustee or Museum. The volumes were prepared for the Museum by the law offices of Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell & Hippel. At that time, the Museum's attorney, John J. Lombard, Jr., was a partner at the firm. The documentation begins with copies of Johnson's will and of the 1917 agreement between the Trustee of the estate (Pennsylvania Bank) and the city. Documents that follow include petitions seeking court approval for various actions of collection disposition, decrees and orders reflecting the presiding judge's decision of said petitions, financial accounting of estate holdings provided by the Trustee, testimonial notes, and expert reports.
Another significant set of files are those compiled by R. Sturgis Ingersoll (1891-1973), a distinguished Philadelphia attorney who had a near forty-year association with the Museum. The files were transferred from the law offices of Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll to the Johnson curatorial staff in 1990. The years in which Ingersoll maintained these files roughly correspond with his tenure as the Museum's president--1948-1964. It is therefore possible that these files represent his role as Museum officer rather than legal counsel. Exclusive to this set of files are transcripts from meetings before a court master that took place between 1919 and 1921. These meetings were called to hear testimony supporting the sale of Johnson's residence. The resulting 1921 Master's Report is also included here. Among the Master's conclusions was his finding the City and Trustee justified in moving the art collection from Johnson's by-then ill-suited residence to storage for safe keeping. He also recommended that the court approve the sale of the 510 S. Broad Street property and use the proceeds toward the erection of a new museum in Fairmount Park that would have a wing in which to exhibit Johnson's collection. Also in regard to a new museum are photographs of building models designed ca. 1914 by Borie, Trumbauer and Zantzinger, the architectural firm that did win the museum contract. These photographs, which appear to show five different designs, are very significant. According to David Brownlee's 1989 study, the models are believed lost.
The last set of files consist of correspondence with the Museum's legal counsel and that of the Trustee. During the years documented here, John Lombard represented the Museum while associated with the Obermayer law firm and later at the firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.