Copyright © The Malta Historical Society, 2005.
Source: Melita Historica. [Published by the Malta Historical Society]. 2(1959)4(263)
SAMMUT, Edward The Valletta Armoury and a letter from Sir Guy Laking Malta, Progress Press, 1959. 16p.
Dr. Sammut, who is already well-known for his studies on various aspects of the history of Art in Malta, gives a summery of the origin and development of the Valletta Armoury in this reprint of his article from “Scientia” (Vol. XXV, No. 1, 1959). The best part of his study is devoted to the publication of the text of a letter sent to Lord Grenfell, then Governor of Malta, by Sir Guy Laking who was engaged in 1900 to classify, catalogue and rearrange the Armoury.
We agree with the author that the letter is “of great interest.” The following extracts from Laking’s judgment on the value of the Armoury are revealing. From its historical and sentimental interest “I venture to say that no armoury or arsenal in Europe can boast of being its equal, for it has been brought together under conditions that affect most closely the history of Malta.” As regards its artistic value “a little less enthusiasm may be felt ... a vast quantity is of a type too often duplicated to be of any particular artistic merit.” Viewed from its monetary value, Laking placed this “at a figure of between £18,000 and £24,000 and of that sum six or seven thousand pounds alone can be accounted for in the magnificent suit made for Alof de Wignacourt, without doubt the most precious possession of the Armoury.”
One hopes that, with the material already at his disposal, the author will find time to make a more solid contribution to the history of art in Malta.
J.[oseph] C.[assar] P.[ullicino]