TALIM and the 19th Annual Salon International de Tanger des Livres et des Arts

10460338_1115315405149204_8681427560179151978_nTALIM is proud to once again support the Salon International de Tanger des Livres et des Arts. “La Femme” is the theme of this year’s Salon, and TALIM will sponsor the participation of American author/historian Alison Baker, and Tangier-based American publisher, Elena Prentice. Please join us from May 6-10 to support this important celebration in Morocco’s literary capital, Tangier!

Thanks to the Institut français de Tanger, the Moroccan Ministry of Culture, l’Association Tanger Région Action Culturelle (ATTRAC) and others for organizing this event.

Treasures to be discovered at the Legation

By Grecia Álvarez, MLIS, Guest blogger

Grecia, Dunya and Majda inside the rare books cage
Grecia, Dunya and Majda inside the rare books cage

When we started sifting through our collection to cull our rare books from the regular shelves and put them into their new home in “the cage” we never imagined we would find books dating from 1572, or even a parchment signed by King Philip II of Spain (Philip I of Portugal). In fact, we started out by pulling books dating from 1920 and earlier and soon found that our cage was overflowing, so that we had to cut back to books printed before 1911. Previously, these books were intermingled with our regular collection, which focuses mainly on Morocco, but it was decided that these books required special protection, and thus the cage, a small room with an iron gate, was born. Our rare books cover a breadth of topics, from early accounts of European exploration of the region, to government treatises, geographical studies, books signed by illustrious figures (including a book belonging to former Prime Minister of Spain Antonio Cánovas del Castillo). We even have copies of an 1889 edition of Washington Irving’s The Life of Mahomet and a first edition of Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad. Continue reading “Treasures to be discovered at the Legation”

Morocco Launch of “A Gardener’s Garden” at the Museum

TALIM Board Member Elena Prentice looks on as fellow Board Member Madison Cox signs his book
Another Board Member, Elena Prentice, looks on as Madison Cox signs books

TALIM in partnership with Librarie des Colonnes welcomed landscape architect and Tangier resident Madison Cox to the Legation on November 12 for the Morocco launch of A Gardener’s Garden, published by Phaidon.

Madison, who currently serves on the TALIM Board, spoke of how he and his collaborators had made what must have been the difficult decisions on which of the world’s gardens, great and small, to include in this beautiful book.   Continue reading “Morocco Launch of “A Gardener’s Garden” at the Museum”

Enchantment On Sale through the New Year

81Lbv8y2Q1LIf you are looking to get an early start on some Christmas shopping, you can do it and support TALIM by purchasing copies of Enchantment. Pictures from the Tangier American Legation Museum, by Diana Wylie, on sale for $14.99 (regularly $35)  in our web store, powered by Amazon.

All the proceeds from the sale of Enchantment benefit the TALIM, but the Legation will also receive a portion of the proceeds from the sale of any item purchased from the TALIM web store, and sometimes from unrelated items purchased during a visit to Amazon, if that visit began from a link on this blog or our web site.  We have books, music and video, so enjoy your shopping.  We also welcome suggestions for products to add.

Tangier: Guides and Gateways


Cover by Robert McDonald, Tangier: The Golden Gateway (Tangier: Mediterranean American Press, 1952). Collection TALIM Research Library.

The following is a guest post by Emma Chubb, who made a presentation on her subject to a group of American, European, and Moroccan researchers and interested members of the public at TALIM on June 17.  Emma Chubb is a doctoral candidate in art history at Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois USA) and is a 2013-14 American Institute for Maghrib Studies (AIMS) fellow in Morocco.

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Guides and Gateways

I spent much of last fall reading through TALIM’s collection of guidebooks and tourism magazines published between the 1940s and 1970s. Perhaps it was because I too was a newcomer to Tangier, but these guides fascinated me. Some folded out like maps, mixing quirky tips for the European or American traveler to Tangier with black-and-white photographs and brightly colored illustrations. Continue reading “Tangier: Guides and Gateways”

The Skeletons of Portuguese Tangier

6a00e54f782d83883301a511ca2bdb970c-800wiThe skeletons of Martin Malcolm Elbl’s book are not in any closets, they’re the very walls of Tangier’s medina, its old walled city which was, for centuries, Tangier itself, before the city dared build outside the fortifications.

“Your library has been randomly selected…” was the explanation on the $0.00 invoice slip that accompanied Portuguese Tangier (1471-1662): Colonial Urban Fabric as Cross-Cultural Skeleton, by Martin Malcolm Elbl of Trent University in Ontario.  This 1,000 page tome is the first volume of a series published by the Baywolf Press for Portuguese Studies Review (PSR).

Here’s how PSR describes the book:

The book offers a “virtual archaeology” of the Portuguese urban fabric heritage–both vanished and preserved–in Tangier’s médina, the walled Old Town. Solidly grounded in archival sources and profoundly revisionist, Portuguese Tangier alters our image of the médina to an unexpected extent.

“Encyclopedic” is often overused, but in the case of Martin Malcolm Elbl storehouse of knowledge, it is an understatement; Elbl is as at home in Portuguese as in Arabic, as at ease with GIS modeling as he is with Wencelas Hollar engravings of British Tangier.

Oh yes, what is British Tangier doing in a book on the Portuguese era, the mere twenty years which came on the heels of the two long centuries of Portuguese rule?  Elbl says that the British conveniently renamed much of what was in fact Portuguese (our own neighbor, the wonderfully-named “Irish Battery,” was originally the Portuguese Cubelo do Bispo).  Same stones, different colonists.

There’s much useful background for understanding what Elbl calls the “prehistory” of the Legation’s immediate surroundings.  The drouj merican or American steps, built into the medina wall in 1911 to allow more convenient access to the American Legation, had been predated by a Portuguese-era entrance further down what today is, appropriately, Rue du Portugal.

And then there’s another long-gone neighbor: “the ‘Sultan Steam Mill’ (almost back to back with the Legation). This was in the 1880s — one of the early waves of industrialization at Tangier.”  And the nearby “Times of Morocco” offices… we have much to learn from Portuguese Tangier, which is an unexpected but important addition to our research library.

Thank you Martin Malcolm Elbl, the Portuguese Studies Review, Trent University, and the Baywolf Press.  We suspect that the “random selection” had a bit of human agency behind it!

Gerald Loftus

TALIM Library Catalog Finds an Online Home

TALIM Grecia Alvarez

Grecia Álvarez has written the following guest post.

Grecia Álvarez (MLIS) is a librarian and an EFL instructor who specializes in Cataloging and Information Literacy Instruction. Her first encounter with Morocco was in 2010-2011, when she was a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at Abdelmalek Essaâdi University in Tetouan. She has been working on various projects at the Legation since her arrival in Tangier last September, including volunteering as an English teacher in our Arabic literacy program for the women of the medina.

Her librarian work at the Legation has been possible thanks to a generous grant provided by the U.S. Embassy in Rabat.

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We librarians lead pretty exciting lives. We come into daily contact with objects of incalculable value, like books and papers that have played a role in furthering relations between peoples and nations. Continue reading “TALIM Library Catalog Finds an Online Home”

Gaetana Enders, Tangerina in New York

TALIM Gaetana EndersIt was only last month that Gaetana Enders, née Marchegiano, was back in the Tangier of her youth.  We don't often have the pleasure of hosting eighty-something researchers in our library, and I regret that I don't have a photo of Gaetana poring over a stack of books on Tangier, International Zone.

Another regret: she was in the final, fact-checking stage of writing her autobiography, and I wish that I had had more than a tantalizing look at the draft, filled with detail on the war years, when Italian families in Tangier were divided between loyalties to Mussolini, or, in the case of Gaetana's father, to Italy's monarchy.

Gaetana Enders, widow of career Ambassador Thomas Enders, passed away in New York on May 21.

Her trip to Tangier in late April was to revisit the city where she was born and grew up, and where she met her husband.  Which was at the American Legation.

In 1951, when Minister John Carter Vincent – who, as a "China Hand" was in diplomatic purgatory in Tangier, prior to his departure from the US Foreign Service in the worst days of McCarthy – wanted to give a reception for the visiting Thomas Enders, then still a student, he thought of young Gaetana Marchegiano.  She would be the hostess, and invite her young friends.

Daughter of the International Zone's judicial administrator on the Commission of Control, Gaetana not only threw a great party for Thomas Enders but soon became his wife.  She recalled her marriage in Tangier a few years later: "I was paraded through the medina in my white wedding dress, to the accompanying you-yous of the Moroccan women."

Thomas Enders joined the Foreign Service in the late Fifties, and made a meteoric rise through the ranks, serving in several ambassadorial posts, including Canada, Spain, and the European Union.  After his death, Gaetana presented a rare map to the Legation in his honor, in the place where the two had met.

Gaetana led an extremely active life, first as an ambassador's wife, then as International Editor of ¡Hola! magazine (or Hello in its English edition), interviewing a series of international figures and celebrities.

Her final visit to Tangier, though she was still recovering from serious medical problems, was especially touching, revisiting as she did places like the Legation that were so important in her life.  We feel honored that we were able to share this moment with her, and our hearts go out to her family.

Gerald Loftus

American Pirate in the Consular Court

1952: The case of the U.S. vs. "Nylon Sid"

TALIM Consular Court Tangier

Consular Court?  Piracy?  By an American?  Yes, this was Tangier, International Zone.

We couldn't find the Tangier Gazette article (not even sure there was one) about Sydney Paley, the American pirate in Tangier.  But thanks to Margery King, one of the Legation's steadfast friends, who remembers her father being called to serve as a juror at the Legation, we have this item from Time Magazine of December 29, 1952, Nylon Sid & the Jolly Roger:

The location was the Barbary Coast, Technicolored to perfection in the midwinter sunshine; the set was a makeshift courtroom in the ancient Moorish palace that houses the U.S. consulate in torrid Tangier. On trial was Tangier's No. 1 manufacturer of nylons and lingerie: dapper Sidney Paley, 32, a spunky ex-G.I. from New Jersey known to his intimates as Nylon Sid. The charge: plotting piracy on the high seas.

From a procession of multilingual witnesses came the story of how an 80-ton privateer (the ex-British Admiralty launch Esme) rammed the Dutch ship Combinatie one night in October and hijacked its cargo of $100,000 worth of U.S. cigarettes. Masked and heavily armed, the pirates sailed their prize to a cove "somewhere in Corsica." There, they unloaded their booty, and abandoned the Combinatie a few miles offshore, leaving its crew locked below decks.


The leader of the pirates, said the prosecution, was one Elliot Burt Forrest, 29, Bronx-born operator of a Tangier nightclub and now a fugitive from justice. But the brains behind the exploit was Nylon Sid, who was lurking in Marseille waiting to dispose of the loot when the Esme's crew was captured. Spanish cops nabbed Nylon Sid when he skipped to Madrid; last week he faced trial before a U.S. consular court in the internationalized port of Tangier.

Nylon Sid insisted that he and Forrest had chartered the Esme to do a "salvage job" off Malta; anything else that happened was all Forrest's doing because Nylon Sid wasn't there. Besides, said his lawyer, "this is the season of 'Peace on earth, good will to all men.'" U.S. Consular Judge Milton J. Helmick was unmoved; he found Nylon Sid guilty and sentenced him to three years in prison. Nylon Sid would be allowed out on appeal, said the judge, if he would put up as bail $10,000 and his cream-colored Cadillac.

I recently came across mention of Nylon Sid in an entertaining book from the Fifties, Turbulent Tangier by Aleko Lilius.  Lilius knew a thing or two about pirates.  His 1931 book I Sailed With Chinese Pirates was the inspiration for the long running comic strip Terry and the Pirates.

When he arrives in Tangier to cover the Nylon Sid trial, Lilius starts to get the feel of the place: a hotel clerk is wary of talking to him about the "important exporters" (a.k.a. smugglers) who stay at the hotel.  He plays cat-and-mouse with Sid to get a photo for Life Magazine, which, like Time, is following this story intently.  "The general talk in Tangier was that Lucky Luciano had had a hand in most of these operations" – with hints of the Mafia and "American gangsterism," no wonder people were nervous.  A note arrives in his hotel pigeon hole: "Lay off Sydney."

Consul Milton Helmik, "acting judicially" according to notices in the Tangier Gazette, presided over the Consular Court, with Vice Consul Miklos playing bailiff ("Hear ye, hear ye").  Writes Lilius:

We assembled in the Legation's big drawing room.  The presence of prison guards, a police van outside, and an armed Marine inside the courtroom created an ominous atmostphere.

In the end, after appeals, Paley was given a suspended sentence and his fine was reduced.  Later Nylon Sid tells Lilius that his pirate days are over, and that he would henceforth confine himself to smuggling.

In the 1950s, as Moroccan independence was looming, Tangier continued to have its unique set of institutions, with an American Consular Court at the Legation, but also with an American judge, Juan Sedillo, on the International Court.  The city's transition from International Zone to Moroccan city took several years, described here.

By the time I joined the US Foreign Service in 1979, vice consuls no longer got to play bailiff or consular court judge.  Lucky for me: my legal duties amounted to "adjudicating" visa applications, for which very skimpy familiarity with US regulations sufficed.

Gone were the days of Nylon Sid at the Consular Court.

Gerald Loftus