Thursday, April 6, 2017

RESULTS: Swann Auction Galleries: The Printed and Manuscript African Americana Sale 2441

The Printed and Manuscript African Americana Sale 2441 was held on March 30, 2017 at Swann Auction Galleries. This was the 22nd annual Printed and Manuscript African Americana Sale, and it was the first time that the sale exceeded $1M in the department's history. Sale 2441 included 530 lots, still demonstrating that there is a continual on-going strong and growing market of available African American historical items; a market that is driven by private collectors, as well as institutions. Of the 530 lots that were offered for sale, 421 of them sold; this was a 79% sell-through rate by lot. The Sale's total was $1,248,121 with Buyer's Premium.

Photograph: Swann Auction Galleries
The success of this sale was, in a large part, due to interest surrounding a carte-de-visite album from the 1860s that contained a previously unknown photograph of Harriet Tubman. The album (Lot 75) had a pre-sale high estimate of $30,000; however, it sold  for $161,000 with Buyer's Premium. Specialist Wyatt Houston Day discovered the photograph of Tubman in an extraordinary album presented to Quaker school teacher Emily Howland in the 1860s by her friend and mentor, Carrie Nichols, both of whom taught at Camp Todd, The Freedmen's School in Arlington, Virginia. The album contained 48 photographs, including 44 cartes-de-visite of noted abolitionists, politicians and friends of Howland. The list of images in the album is truly impressive, and there are two photographs of Harriet Tubman; one, featured in this post, showing a considerably younger Harriet Tubman than normally seen in known images of her.

Sale 2441 also featured "the strongest selection of Civil Rights material we've offered," according to Wyatt Day. Lot 256, an archive of documents relating to the formation of the Montgomery Improvement Association, included checks endorsed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Association's archive is rich in detail with hundreds of pieces, shedding light on this seminal community movement, which heralded the beginning of the modern civil rights struggle. Lot 256 had a pre-sale estimate of $20,000 - $30,000, and it sold for $18,750 with Buyer's Premium.

Lot 260, Draft of Letter from Birmingham Jail. Photo: Swann Auction Galleries

Half of the top selling lots were institutional purchases, including a rare working draft (Lot 260) of Dr. Martin Luther King's famous Letter from Birmingham Jail, 1963; and a West African cast
Lot 5, Kuduo. Photograph: Swann Auction Galleries
bronze Kuduo ritual burial jar (Lot 5), circa eighteenth to nineteenth century. The draft of the
Letter from Birmingham Jail, offering a defense of King's methods of peaceful and passive resistance had a pre-sale estimate of $10,000 - $15,000; it sold for $40,000 with Buyer's Premium. The Kuduo in Lot 5 has images of slave shackles applied to the sides. The images of slave shackles suggest the person to whom this belonged was a slave dealer. The pre-sale estimate was $10,000 - $15,000, and it sold for $10,625 with Buyer's Premium.

Other highlights from Sale 2441 featured in this post 
Lot 83, Photograph: Swann Auction Galleries
focus on books. Lot 83, a signed and inscribed copy of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Written by Himself (1845) set an auction record. It had a pre-sale estimate of $3,000 - $4,000, and sold for $37,500 with Buyer's Premium.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass... was purchased by a dealer.

Lot 150, Photograph: Swann Auction Galleries
Lot 150: Benjamin Banneker's Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia Almanack for the year of our Lord 1795 was purchased by a collector. This lot had a pre-sale estimate of $30,000 - $40,000, and it set an auction record, selling for $55,000 with Buyer's Premium. 

Lot 382: Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were
Lot 382, Photograph: Swann Auction Galleries
Watching God
(1937) inscribed to Mollie Lewis had a pre-sale estimate of $600 - $900. It sold for $7,800, breaking a record for an inscribed first edition copy of
Their Eyes Were Watching God.

Look for the next sale of Printed and Manuscript African Americana at Swann Galleries in Spring 2018. For more information, or to cosign works to future auctions, contact David Rivera with consignment inquiries. The Printed and Manuscript African Americana Department at Swann Galleries, the only one of its kind, has been holding sales since 1996.

No comments:

Post a Comment