Ernest Hemingway collection including a matador outfit worn in the bullring by the great Spanish bullfighter Ordóñez, his sword, and Hemingway's lucky chestnut.
Ernest Hemingway Archive is comprised of (1) Hemingway's
lucky chestnut, (2) a three-piece matador outfit worn by
bullfighter Antonio Ordóñez, (3) Ordóñez's sword used by author
A.E. Hotchner when he wore Ordóñez's matador outfit in the
bullring, and (4) the miniature sterling silver trophy of a matador
and bull presented by Hemingway to Hotchner. Also included are
copies of The Dangerous Summer by Hemingway
and Papa Hemingway by Hotchner, each including
a recounting of that day in the bull ring at Ciudad Real, Spain,
August 17, 1959, and photocopies of four letters of provenance
by Hotchner for the chestnut, the matador outfit, the sword, and
the trophy. Antonio Ordóñez (1932-1998) was one of Spain's
most famous bullfighters, making his first public appearance as a
bullfighter in 1948. He retired in 1968, having faced over 1000
bulls. His father, Cayetano Ordoñez, known as "El Niño de la
Palmas," was also a bullfighter. He fought in Pamplona in the 1920s
where Hemingway first met him. His son Antonio called Hemingway
Excerpts from the four letters of provenance : "This is to authenticate a lucky chestnut which was owned by Ernest Hemingway and which he carried for many years. He gave this to me in 1961. This is a very personal relic of Ernest Hemingway, and one which I have enjoyed myself for many years. I discuss the chestnut on Pages 59, 61, 62, and 299 of my book 'Papa Hemingway'...In the summer of 1959, while touring Spain with Hemingway, I went into the bull ring as sobre saliente to Ordonez, the great matador. The sword which you have was used to fight the bull that day with the muletta. It was used to support the muletta & is not a killing sword. At the end of the day, Hemingway obtained this sword from Ordonez & gave it to me as a keepsake. The experience is recounted in Papa Hemingway & The Dangerous Summer...The matador outfit was worn by me when I went into the bullring with Ordonez. It was his suit. Details can be found in Papa Hemingway & in The Dangerous Summer which has Ernest's account of that day in the ring...The silver bullfight trophy (marked with several tiny stars) was presented to me by Hemingway on the night I appeared in the bullring as sobre saliente. See Papa Hemingway & The Dangerous Summer for details."
From Papa Hemingway by A.E. Hotchner, Chapter Three Paris 1950: "[Hemingway explained], 'During the war, what I had for a lucky piece was a red stone my son Bumby had given me, but one morning in England when I was scheduled to fly a mission with the RAF, the floor maid at my hotel brought back my pants from the cleaners and I realized that I had left the stone in one of the pockets and the cleaner had thrown it away...I said to the maid, "Give me something for a lucky piece-just anything and wish me luck on it and that will do it." Well, she didn't have anything in the pocket of her uniform but she picked up the cork from a bottle of Mumm I had drunk the night before and gave me that. Damn good thing I had it-every plane on that flight got chewed up except ours. Best lucky piece I ever had and now it's been spirited away. You guys won't find it-I've checked out the whole joint. Tell you what, Hotch. While you're out raising capital, bring me back something. Anything, as long as it's pocket size...' As we moved toward the door, Ernest said to me, 'I better take my lucky piece now.' We always took each other's responsibilities for granted. 'It fell on my head,' I said, 'where the Champs Elysées comes into the Concorde. It has a nice clear eye, don't you think?' Ernest took the chestnut, rubbed some oil on it from the side of his nose, nodded, and put it in his pants pocket. 'Never lose your faith in mysticism, boy,' he said, and he pushed on through the revolving door." Hemingway was now in the Mayo Clinic. From Chapter Fifteen Ketchum 1961 "In the beginning of June, on my way back from Hollywood, I rented a car in Minneapolis and drove the ninety miles to Rochester...[Hotchner took Hemingway for a drive and then they walked down a trail in a nearby wooded area.] A rise of tears made it impossible for me to talk any more. Ernest was not looking at me; he was watching a small bird foraging in the scrub. 'You remember I told you once she [wife Mary Hemingway] did not know about other people's hurts. Well, I was wrong. She knows. She knows how I hurt and she suffers trying to help me-I wish to Christ I could spare her that. Listen, Hotch, whatever happens, whatever...she's good and strong, but remember sometimes the strongest of women need help' I couldn't manage anymore. I walked a short distance away. He came over and put his hand on my shoulder. 'Poor old Hotch,' he said. 'I'm so damn sorry. Here, I want you to have this.' He had the horse chestnut from Paris in his hand.' 'But, Papa, that's your lucky piece.' 'I want you to have it.' 'Then I'll give you another.' 'Okay.' I stooped down to pick up a bright pebble but Ernest stopped me. 'Nothing from here,' he said. 'There's no such thing as a lucky piece from Rochester, Minnesota.' I had a key ring that one of my daughters had given me, that had a carved wooden figure attached to it, so I removed the figure and gave him that. 'If I could get out of here and get back to Ketchum.'...I stayed with him for a few hours in his room. He was pleasant but distant. We talked about books and sports; nothing personal. Late in the day I drove back to Minneapolis. I never saw him again." On July 2, 1961, back at his Ketchum, Idaho, cabin, Ernest Hemingway killed himself with his shotgun.
From Papa Hemingway, Chapter Twelve Spain 1959: "Antonio [Ordóñez]...called me "El Pecas," The "Freckled One...When we arrived in Antonio's room before the corrida on August 17th, there were two sword handlers and one of them was for me. Antonio had set out two of his matador suits and my sword handler was standing beside the ivory and black one, ready to fit me into it. I would go into the ring as the sobresaliente, the substitute matador in a mano a mano who has to kill the bulls if the two contending bullfighters are injured...My nerves got the biggest jolt when I saw the huge posters on the outside of the bull ring. Under ORDOÑEZ Y DOMINGUIN, it said SOBRASALIENTE: EL PECAS..." What happened in the bull ring is then recounted by Hotchner.
From The Dangerous Summer by Ernest Hemingway, Chapter 12: "Antonio was going to have Hotch dress in his room in one of his suits and take him into the ring as the substitute matador or sobresaliente who would have to kill the bulls if both Luis Miguel and Antonio were injured. He wanted Hotch to have to be, or anyway to be, Antonio on the day of the fight and during the fight. It as absolutely illegal and I do not know how grave the penalties would be if anyone spotted Hitch...The fight had caught up with Antonio and he was putting himself into the state of nothing that he always had before the gate opened...Someone came up to me and asked, 'Who is the sobresaliente?' 'El Pecas,' I said. 'Oh,' he nodded his head. 'Suerte, Pecas,' I said to Hotch. He nodded his head slightly. He was trying to get into the state of nothing too." Hemingway devotes more than half of the chapter to what happened to Hotchner in the ring.
Included are paperback copies of Hemingway's The Dangerous Summer (New York: Touchstone, 1997), with appropriate passages highlighted in blue, and Hotchner's Papa Hemingway (Cambridge: Da Capo Press, 2005). Each book is illustrated; Hemingway's book includes a photograph captioned "A.E. Hotchner preparing to appear as the sobresaliente for the mano a mano between Ordóñez and Dominguín at Ciudad Real. Hemingway, Bill Davis, and Ordóñez look on."
When Ordóñez died in 1998, his obituary in The New York Times was headlined "Antonio Ordonez dies at 66; Matador in Hemingway Book." It began "Antonio Ordonez, a leading bullfighter in the 1950's and the last survivor of the dueling matadors chronicled by Hemingway in 'The Dangerous Summer,' died on Saturday in a Seville hospital. He was 66. The cause was cancer, the Spanish news media reported. Mr. Ordonez, who was widely considered the top bullfighter of his day for his impeccable and daring capework, was the son of another famous matador, Cayetano Ordonez, whose exploits Hemingway depicted in his 1926 novel 'The Sun Also Rises.'"
We have not been able to find a record of the sale of a matador's suit, especially one worn by such a renowned matador as Ordóñez. This one, accompanied by his sword, combined with its Hemingway connection, would be the cornerstone of a bullfighting collection. The suit, sword, lucky piece chestnut, and miniature bullfighting trophy, each with impeccable provenance, would be a truly unique addition to any Hemingway collection.
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