NEW YORK – Guernsey’s will auction more than 20,000 historic African American objects owned by 90-year old Staten Island resident Elizabeth Meaders on February 28. This important collection will be offered as a single lot on the last day of Black History Month. The lot is estimated at $2 million-$10 million. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Her admiration for baseball great and Civil Rights legend Jackie Robinson started Meaders, then a young New York City schoolteacher, on her quest to assemble a collection truly reflective of the history and culture of African Americans from the early and painful days of slavery to the present. Sixty years later, many qualified historians, including Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University and Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U.S. History, UCLA, view the Meaders collection as possibly the best, most comprehensive assemblage of items relating to the African American experience.
Created to present the many facets of African American life, the Meaders collection is divided into categories, including the scourge of slavery; the struggle for Civil Rights; Blacks in the military, in sports, in the arts and entertainment; and legendary Black leaders. Other categories include Black women, religion, politics and education. The Meaders collection encompasses materials ranging from medals awarded to Revolutionary and Civil War soldiers; the hateful robes of the Klu Klux Klan; a rocking chair enjoyed by baseball legend Satchel Paige; and posters from Harlem’s Apollo Theater.
Meaders hopes that her collection will find a home at a university or become a museum unto itself, and she has offered to assist its new owner in navigating its many artifacts. Guernsey’s, known for its representation of the Rosa Parks Archive, is honored to be presenting this important body of material, which emphasizes that the history of a people must never be overlooked.
Historical figures represented in the Elizabeth Meaders collection include Harriet Tubman, Robert Smalls, Mammy Pleasant, Crispus Attucks, Marcus Garvey, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver, Annie Malone, Col. Charles Young, Bill Richmond, Bessie Coleman, Bill Pickett, Father Divine, Dr. Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, Paul Robeson, Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Hank Aaron, Satchell Paige, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Louis Armstrong, Josephine Baker and Barack Obama.
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