This subseries documents institutions and individuals who for the most part would contact McIlhenny in the hopes to sell, buy or borrow works of fine and decorative art and antiquities. Material pertaining to his parents' collection, including its disposition as shared between McIlhenny and his sister, is intermingled. Requests for photographs of McIlhenny's collection, permission to publish, and general art inquiries are also included. Material consists primarily of correspondence and invoices, along with a few photographs, clippings and catalogs.
Although McIlhenny refused many of the objects offered and requests for loans filed in this subseries, a significant number of purchases and some loan agreements are documented as well. Where possible, such transactions have been noted in the folder title. Additional material, primarily invoices and receipts, was added to this subseries during processing. Originally residing in general alphabetical runs, these papers, filed by firm name, pertain to the same types of purchases originally filed here, including antique and everyday objects.
This subseries also contains significant correspondence with the individuals who advised both the senior and younger McIlhenny in a number of their acquisitions. As made evident in his detailed accounts of money spent, Wilhelm R. Valentiner not only advised the elder McIlhenny, but also acted as his agent. Henry McIlhenny relied on the advice of Persian art expert Arthur Upham Pope and the dealer Paul Rosenberg, and with both he apparently developed friendships. For example, in addition to his dealings with McIlhenny and his mother over purchases of Persian ceramics and carpets, Pope on several occasions invited McIlhenny to join expeditions to India and to Persia, which led to a colorful exchange of letters. In particular was McIlhenny's decline, written in 1949, to go to Persia, noting not only his mistrust of chartered planes but also his fear of being captured by Russians during their march into the area. Through Paul Rosenberg, McIlhenny purchased works by the artists who made his collection one of the most celebrated, such as Cezanne, Gericault, and Picasso. He also assisted Rosenberg in securing a visa to the United States in 1940 and two years later, agreed to help save the dealer's art collection left behind in France "from falling into the hands of the Nazis." Also of note are the Parke-Bernet Galleries folders, which document three auctions of objects apparently held by McIlhenny's parents. The sales reports include the division of profits between McIlhenny and his sister, Bernice. Another auction documented is the one held in 1923 to which John D. McIlhenny consigned several of his Old Masters. As reported by Ehrich Galleries, the sale was a "real disaster," resulting in a $185.00 loss.