BUFORD, Ga. – Slotin Auction, which specializes in self-taught as well as the strange, the unusual and vanishing America, will conduct two auctions titled “Slavery, Freedom and Beyond” on Nov. 11-12. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.
This November edition is sure to pique the interest in collectors looking to acquire and preserve Southern African American history with items ranging from slave tags, quilts, pottery, plantation baskets and furniture, as well as other handmade African Americana, to exceptional examples by important self-taught, outsider and contemporary artists.
Before the Civil War, Charleston, South Carolina served as the hub for the slave trade. The Old Slave Mart was used as an auction gallery where enslaved people were sold throughout the 1850s. In 1938, the property was purchased by Miriam B. Wilson, who turned the site into a museum of African American history, arts and crafts. Later, Carroll Greene, curator and a Smithsonian Fellow, combined the important works of the Acacia Collection with the Old Slave Mart inventory to expand the African American story told by the museum.
Slotin’s two-day fall Masterpiece Sale features over 1,000 lots including the entire contents of the Old Slave Mart and The Acacia Collection.
Southern folk pottery will open the sale with 111 strong lots. Most notably, lot 89 is an 1860s slave-made Edgefield face vessel (above), which was prominently exhibited at the Old Slave Mart Museum (est. $15,000-$20,000). Also included are 20 additional lots featuring Slave Dave (attrib.), Chandler Pottery (attrib.), L. Miles Pottery, Colin Rhodes (attrib.), and various other Edgefield potters (lots 90-109) from the Acacia Collection.
Lots 112-117 feature original Thomas Day furniture from the Acacia Collection that exhibited at the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah. Lot 112. a secretary with mirrored doors, circa 1850s, is believed to be one of only four secretaries made by Day (est. $8,000-$12,000).
Enslaved people in Charleston were required by law to wear identification tags. Lots 118-124 are important examples of these slave tags from the Old Slave Mart Museum. Other important historical lots include Lot 632, the free slave papers (below) of Henry Bledford, age 39, signed and dated June 11, 1864 (est. 1,000-$2,000).
Possibly the most profoundly impactful historical object in the sale is the original stone step that led into the Slave Mart Auction Gallery from the barracoon, the jail where enslaved people were held while waiting to be sold. Every slave at the Old Slave Mart in Charleston walked on this step before being sold at auction This lot also includes slave handmade bricks from various plantations and the original display poster from the Old Slave Mart showing a layout of the slave mart and the original location of the step. The original key to Ryan’s Mart, which later became the Old Slave Mart, will also be sold (est. $300-$500).
More than 30 African American quilts and coverlets, several slave-made, will be sold. Of particular importance is lot 132, a slave-made Pine Bloom of Gentleman’s Fancy coverlet, circa 1800 from the Laurel Hill Plantation, James River area of Virginia. Mrs. Shumate, a granddaughter of the slave owner, presented the coverlet in 1948 to the Old Slave Mart. The blue and white coverlet, estimated at $3,000-$5,000, was featured in many definitive books and exhibited at the Smithsonian National Museum’s “After the Revolution: Everyday Life in America” in 1985-86.
Transitioning from enslaved African Americans to artists who had been freed or were born free, this sale features some the most important works in this genre. Lot 149 features a rare and important work by Edwin Augustus Harleston (1882-1931) Charleston Shrimp Man, a depiction of Meeting Street in Charleston, a slight departure from his usual portraits (est. $20,000-$30,000).
Alabama freed-slave Bill Traylor’s Portrait of a Well-Dressed Man, provenance Luise Ross Gallery, is estimated to realize $50,000-$60,000. Other self-taught masters include examples by Elijah Pierce, Joseph Yoakum, Sam Doyle, Thornton Dial, Minnie Evans, Sister Gertrude Morgan and Clementine Hunter.
Slotin Auction will also bring some of the most important contemporary works to market including an outstanding collection of California Funk Artists from the ground-breaking owner of the Candy Store Gallery, Adeliza McHugh, in the 1960s.
For details contact Slotin Auction at 770-532-1115 or 404-403-4244 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.