Issue 145, Winter 1997
Half an inch long, an eighth wide, flat as parchment, sharp enough co pierce and pain anyone of mother born, the gray section of wood sac upon an ecclesiastical purple matte between a gold-leafed garland of frame. The catalogue copy with its photograph on the cover read: “Documented, Authenticated Piece of the True Cross, First Sale in Two Thousand Years.”
Other religious artifacts were grouped together in Barkeley’s annual rheological auction: silver kiddush cups that had belonged to Sigmund Freud, African fetishes, a ruby-studded Buddha, an original papal bull, a sheaf of correspondence between Reinhold Niebuhr and Teilhard de Chardin lamenting the discovery of Peking man and celebrating the birch of Niebuhr’s daughter and several mosque-size prayer rugs from Mecca. Assembled over the year from many sources, the estimated value of the collection was nearly seven figures without calculating in the priceless designation of the True Cross.
The regulars in Barkeley’s grand salon fidget…