Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Stolen from the Tombs

A long time ago, in a dynasty far, far away, there was Ibrahim Pasha. He was born in 1789, the son of the Egyptian ruler Mohamed Ala, and died in 1848 as king of Egypt. He spent most of his life since adolescence as a military leader in his father’s kingdom and eventually became the supreme political leader although he died just 4 months after succeeding the throne. He was made Regent of Egypt when his father Mohamed became senile in his old age, but Pasha at the time was unhealthy himself due to his long career as a soldier and in the end died before his father. As a military leader and ruler, Pasha was respected and admired by his people and is remembered as one of the greatest leaders of the Mohamed Ala Dynasty regardless of his short reign. He is even honored with a monument in the Egyptian capital of Cairo. Most of Pasha’s acclaim comes from his military victories over the Ottoman Empire, Syria, and other surrounding territories during his time spent as chief commander of the Egyptian Army.


 Here at the Baldpate we have the key to the crypt in which Ibrahim Pasha’s body is buried, and as can be expected with Egyptian tombs, the building is even more historic than the man. The crypt is located in the Tombs of the Califs which dates back to 600 A.D. and is the resting place of all the royal family of Egypt. The two photographs that share a frame with Pasha’s key depict the beautiful Tombs of the Califs as well as the monument that represents Ibrahim Pasha in Cairo.

This key was acquired, and probably stolen, by a man named Richard Spencer in 1937. Spencer was an exchange student from Stanford University studying in Canton, China, but when his University in China was shut down as a result of World War II, he took the scenic route back to the United States through Singapore, Port Said, Egypt, and Europe. While he was in Egypt, the accompanying letter says he took this key out of the lock on Pasha’s crypt and apparently made it through customs without any trouble. I imagine security was slightly more relaxed back in the day.

So there you have it, a historic key brought from an exciting adventure around the world. Any of you who may be planning an overseas trip, remember to keep your eyes pealed for unattended keys looking for a new home. Or just plan a trip to Baldpate to enjoy the spoils of others.

If you are in the Estes Park area, please consider paying us a visit tonight at 7pm to hear Richard Thompson speak about living with Grizzly bears and enjoy some fresh baked cookies. Also if you plan a trip for next Wednesday, you’ll hear Jake, one of our very own curators, speak about 10 of the most exciting keys in our collection. You won’t want to miss it.

Happy key hunting!

Key Room Museum Curator