COLUMBUS, Ohio – Fleischer’s Auctions will host its Summer Premier Sale on Saturday, August 5. Boasting more than 400 lots, the auction offers a wide selection of material from the breadth of American history, particularly material from the abolition movement, the Civil War, African American history, Lincolniana and gems of historic photography. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
A highlight from the early anti-slavery movement is a significant pro-slavery broadside issued in the throes of the 1835 Boston mob, which led directly to the imprisonment of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison for his own safety. The lot, estimated at $7,500-$12,500, includes a letter by Garrison recalling his own memories of his “ruffianly seizure, and being dragged through the streets.”
No collection of abolitionist material would be complete without a copy of the carte-de-visite of the self-emancipated formerly enslaved man named Gordon. Often known simply as The Scourged Back, the image of his skin deeply scarred by the slave master’s whip was taken when Gordon reached Union-held Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The physical manifestation of enslavement’s cruelty served to galvanize the abolitionist movement in the north and convince many moderates of the cause, as the image directly contradicted the idea of benevolent slave owners. It, too, carries an estimate of $7,500-$12,500.
Also on offer are several other fascinating lots related to abolition, self-emancipation, and so-called “contrabands,” or fleeing slaves who Union forces welcomed as “contraband” in wry recognition of the fact that Confederates saw these individuals as property and not people. Relevant material includes several compelling images (see lots 328-331) and a flag flown over a contraband camp at Craney Island (lot 336).
The auction features several standout uniforms and items of clothing rarely seen on the market, including a group of three trousers and three vests once owned by Theophilus Frank, sharecropper and veteran of the 48th North Carolina Infantry, estimated at $7,500-$12,500. They were discovered in 1977 by a West Point curator of arms and armor who noted the rarity of the items, commenting that “Virtually anything that survives from the lower classes of southern society [during the Reconstruction era] is extraordinarily rare.” Frank’s Confederate uniform is also available for bidding as lot 218, with an estimate of $15,000-$30,000.
In addition to captivating Civil War photography, documents, militaria and archives, the auction features the Charleston Mercury’s broadside announcing the “Union is Dissolved.” Widely regarded as the first printing of the Confederacy, the broadside was issued less than 15 minutes after the South Carolina legislature unanimously voted for secession.
Genre highlights include an exceptional sixth-plate daguerreotype of a woman nursing an infant, which has an estimate of $5,000-$7,500. Another unusual view includes a quarter-plate tintype nude portrait of a Union soldier, posed in front of a photographer’s painted backdrop rather than the more typically-seen medical context. Images of Native Americans also feature, including a portrait of Cherokee Chief John Ross, estimated at $2,500-$5,000, and a fine group portrait of the circa-1874 Navajo Delegation in Washington D.C.
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