NEW YORK, NY.-
The Thursday, March 30 auction of Printed & Manuscript African Americana at Swann Galleries
will feature 300 lots dedicated to the African American experience in North America. The sale includes material spanning from the seventeenth century documenting the dark days of slavery and the Civil War through the modern era with ephemera related to the Civil Rights movement, artists, performances and concerts, Black-owned businesses, and more.
Leading the sale is an outstanding original 1865 manuscript broadside of the 13th Amendment ending slavery, signed by the Vice President and 111 congressmen. It is one of a handful of commemorative copies circulated in the halls of Congress for signatures. The exceptional lot is estimated at $80,000 to $120,000.
Further material relating to the Civil War includes the 1863 diary of Lincoln Ripley Stone, the surgeon from the famed Civil War 54th Massachusetts Infantry ($20,000-30,000). The diary documents the regiments departure from Boston through its tragic losses at the battle of Fort Wagner and beyond, as well as the death of the regiments commander Robert Gould Shaw and notes on thirty of the wounded soldiers treated by Dr. Stone. The 54th Massachusetts Infantry was organized by prominent Boston abolitionists; its enlisted men were free Black soldiers recruited from across the northeast, the first regiment in the Union army. Further, is the scarce original source photograph, circa early 1864, of the controversial engraving, United States Soldiers at Camp William Penn ($10,000-15,000)Camp William Penn was founded in July 1863 in Cheltenham, just north of Philadelphia, to help meet the call for African American soldiers. In the photo, the soldiers are wearing light blue coats, which appear gray in the photograph. This has inspired some revisionist historians to crop out the Union officer and pass the image off as a Confederate unit. It can be found all over the Internet with the caption 1st Louisiana Native Guard 1861.
Also from the 1800s is a correspondence archive dating from 1855 to 1862 from Richmond slave dealersDickinson, Hill & Co.which provides a wealth of information and understanding regarding the pricing and treatment of people as a commodity; the majority of the 41 letters and documents in the archive refer explicitly to the sale of enslaved people ($30,000-40,000). And an unpublished minute book kept between 1858 and 1900 for the African Civilization Society kept by abolitionist Theodore Bourne features ($8,000-12,000); among the leaders involved in the organization were important Black abolitionists Martin Delany and Henry Highland Garnet.
Ephemera and archives related to artists, as well as the visual and performing arts are prominently featured throughout the sale. The cornerstone of the run is an archive of 35 personal letters, sent between 1966 and 1985, from noted Harlem Renaissance sculptor Richmond Barthé to friend Easton Lee, a renowned Jamaican playwright, minister and media personality ($25,000-35,000). Additional material includes an archive of nearly 3,000 personal photographs taken or developed by trumpet player John Birks Dizzy Gillespie, dated circa 1966 to 1985 ($10,000-15,000); a group of Josephine Baker ephemera ($1,000-1,500); papers of actress Juanita Moore ($800-1,200); a Playbill for the groundbreaking 1944 production of Othello signed by Paul Robeson, the first Black man to be cast as Othello in an American production of the play ($600-900); and a first printing of the famous map seen in the inaugural issue of Manhattan: A Weekly for Wakeful New YorkersNight-Club Map of Harlem, 1933 ($8,000-12,000). 1980s flyers promoting Hip Hop performances, mid-century movie posters, signed photographs of early actors, dancers and musicians round out the selection.
Additional highlights include a 1949 issue of the Negro Motorist Green Book ($10,000-15,000), as well as an extensive archive from Karen Haberman Trusty, a 1964 participant in the Southern Nonviolent Coordinating Committees Freedom Summer ($5,000-7,500); a felt pennant from the August 28, 1963, March on Washington ($2,000-3,000); an early Miss Black America program and related documents from 1969 ($600-900); and a 1923 portrait of banking and charitable pioneer Maggie Lena Walker and her staff ($6,000-9,000).