Swann sets focus on the African American experience with Mar. 30 auction
NEW YORK — 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 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 and Black-owned businesses. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Leading the sale is an 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 lot is estimated at $80,000-$120,000.
Further material relating to the Civil War includes the 1863 diary of Lincoln Ripley Stone, the surgeon from the celebrated Civil War 54th Massachusetts Infantry, which has an estimate of $20,000-$30,000. The diary documents the regiment’s departure from Boston through its tragic losses at the battle of Fort Wagner and beyond, as well as the death of the regiment’s commander Robert Gould Shaw and notes on 30 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, that provided the basis for the controversial engraving United States Soldiers at Camp William Penn, estimated at $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 across the Internet with the caption 1st Louisiana Native Guard 1861.
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 Barthe to his friend Easton Lee, a renowned Jamaican playwright, minister and media personality. It carries an estimate of $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 and estimated at $10,000-$15,000; a group of Josephine Baker ephemera, estimated at $1,000-$1,500; papers of actress Juanita Moore, estimated at $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, estimated at $600-$900; and a first printing of the famous map seen in the 1933 inaugural issue of Manhattan: A Weekly for Wakeful New Yorkers—Night-Club Map of Harlem, which is estimated at $8,000-$12,000.
Additional highlights include a 1949 issue of the Negro Motorist Green Book, estimated at $10,000-$15,000, as well as an extensive archive from Karen Haberman Trusty, a 1964 participant in the Southern Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s Freedom Summer, estimated at $5,000-$7,500; a felt pennant from the August 28, 1963 March on Washington, estimated at $2,000-$3,000; an early Miss Black America program and related documents from 1969, estimated at $600-$900; and a 1923 portrait of banking and charitable pioneer Maggie Lena Walker and her staff, which has an estimate of $6,000-$9,000.
Click to view top auction results on LiveAuctioneers: https://www.liveauctioneers.com/pages/recent-auction-sales/