NEW YORK — Printed and manuscript African Americana is featured in Swann Galleries upcoming auction, launching Thursday, March 25 at 10:30 a.m. Eastern. The sale includes an exceptional offering of material with highlights from important figures and historical movements, including Frederick Douglass; slavery and abolition; the civil rights movement, with items relating to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and Black Panthers. Online bidding will be provided by LiveAuctioneers.com.An early draft of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963, leads the sale with a pre-sale estimate of $15,000-$25,000. Additional material related to Dr. King and the civil rights movement include a reel-to-reel tape recording of Dr. King speaking to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference at a planning meeting for the Poor People’s Campaign in January 1968 ($10,000-$15,000); a pennant from the 1963 March on Washington ($2,500-$3,500); an archive of NAACP correspondence from James Weldon Johnson, Walter White, and more spanning 1923 to 1944 ($1,500-$2,500); and a group of 17 press photographs of the integration of Little Rock’s Central High School from September to October of 1957 ($1,500-$2,500).
Frederick Douglass items stand out amongst an offering of material related to slavery and abolition. Highlights featuring Douglass include a scarce 1878 carte de visite portrait of the abolitionist by Samuel M. Fassett ($15,000-$25,000); an early issue of Douglass’s newspaper The North Star, 1848 ($7,000-$10,000); and an 1882 autograph letter signed to Martin I. Townsend concerning his rival Richard Greener ($5,000-$7,500).
Also of note a series of manuscript lectures by an abolitionist firebrand before, during and after the war ($3,000-$4,000); a first edition of Narrative of Sojourner Truth, a Northern Slave, Emancipated from Bodily Servitude, 1850, ($1,500-$2,000); and an 1868 elaborately engraved commemorative printing of the Thirteenth Amendment ($3,000-$4,000).
Objects and ephemera relating to music and entertainment feature throughout the sale. A first printing of A Night-Club Map of Harlem featured in the inaugural issue of Manhattan: A Weekly for Wakeful New Yorkers, 1933, carries an estimate of $15,000-$25,000.
Dance and theater include a diary, photograph and correspondence of modern dance legend Katherine Dunham from 1935 to 2002 ($8,000-$12,000); a group of circa-1957 photographs of the short-lived but influential New York Negro Ballet Company ($700-$1,000); and a 1943 Playbill for an early performance of Othello signed by star Paul Robeson ($1,200-$1,800).
Flyers for music festivals and concerts include the original maquette for the 1982 Cultural Freebee Jam flyer held at the Bronx River Center to celebrate Black History Month ($7,000-$10,000); and a poster for opening night of Run DMC’s 1986 Raising Hell tour ($2,500-$3,500).
Black Panther material features a 1968 poster advertising a “Free Huey Rally” at Oakland Auditorium ($3,000-$4,000); a group of 30 different Black Panther and black power pinbacks ($1,200-$1,800); and Our Folk Tales: High John the Conqueror and Other Afro-American Tales, published by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and compiled by Julius Lester circa 1967 ($1,000-$1,500).
Additional noteworthy lots include Banneker’s Almanack and Ephemeris for the Year of our Lord, 1793, Philadelphia, 1792, by scientist and surveyor Benjamin Banneker who produced the annual almanacs from 1791 through 1796 ($12,000-$18,000); a first edition of Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, London, 1773, by Phillis Wheatley ($8,000-$12,000); a complete run of four issues of Black Opals, 1927–28, the legendary limited-edition journal published in Philadelphia and closely tied to the Harlem Renaissance ($5,000-$7,500); and papers of Margaret P. Simmons of the Women’s Army Corps dated from 1939 to 1993 ($800-$1,200).
Swann Auction Galleries’s auction begin Thursday, March 25 at 10:30 a.m. Eastern. Online bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.
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