Swann Ushers in a New Era of Live Online Sales with Printed & Manuscript African Americana

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Sale brings $744k and 13 auction records

PRINTED & MANUSCRIPT AFRICAN AMERICANA
Sale 2534; May 7, 2020
Sale total: $744,112
Estimates for sale as a whole: $455,900-$672,900
We offered 399 lots; 360 sold (90% sell-through rate by lot)
All prices include Buyer’s Premium.
PRINTED & MANUSCRIPT AFRICAN AMERICANA
Sale 2534; May 7, 2020
Sale total: $744,112
Estimates for sale as a whole: $455,900-$672,900
We offered 399 lots; 360 sold (90% sell-through rate by lot)
All prices include Buyer’s Premium.

New York—Swann Galleries’ Thursday, May 7 sale of Printed & Manuscript African Americana was held live online and was conducted remotely. “This was a strong auction regardless of the circumstances. The sale concluded with 90% of lots finding buyers, a record in this category at Swann, and a total of $744,112, well above high estimate. Institutions generally make a good showing in these African Americana auctions, but they did exceptionally well in this sale, picking up the top four lots, and a total of 11 of the top 20,” noted Rick Stattler, the house’s Americana specialist.

Leading the sale was an annotated 1848 letterpress broadside advertising for a reward for three young women who had escaped from slavery. The announcement was won by an institution for $37,500, a record for a broadside of the same nature. Also from the slavery and abolition era came the only pamphlet edition of The Proclamation of Emancipation, seventh printed edition, 1862, which sold for $11,875. 

Posters were one of the most popular categories in the sale. Civil Rights-era posters included March for Freedom Now!, 1960, printed for a protest at the 1960 Republican Convention, which brought $17,500; Come Let Us Build a New World Together, circa 1963, utilizing a photograph by Danny Lyon featuring congressman John Lewis, then a 22-year-old Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee organizer, was won for $7,250, a record for the poster; and I Am a Man, Memphis, 1968, a dorm room version of the original protest poster used in the days before Dr. King’s assassination, brought a record for the poster at $6,500. Sun Ra in “Space is the Place,” circa 1974, a movie poster for the Afrofuturist science fiction film featuring the experimental Jazz musician Sun Ra, garnered a record for the image at $6,500.

The pamphlet 17th Year Afro-American’s Travel Guide, 1957, a competitor of the famous Negro Motorist’s Green Book, went to an institution for $27,500 over a $1,200 high-estimate after rigorous back-and-forth bidding. A 1950s metal sign denoting a colored waiting room from Alabama, brought a record the category at $15,000.

Additional items of note included E. Simms Campbell’s A Night-Club Map of Harlem, featured in the inaugural issue of Manhattan: A Weekly for Wakeful New Yorkers, 1933, which brought $27,500; papers of the comedian Napsey Russel, which included a personal letter from Martin Luther King, brought $17,500; and 44 issues of The Black Panther Community News Service brought $6,500, a record for copies of the publication.

“We are grateful for the confidence placed in us by our consignors, and for the patience of our community of collectors as we completely redesigned how we conduct our auctions. The results are nothing short of phenomenal, and a testament to Swann’s resilient and creative team,” concluded Stattler of the sale.

For the house’s most up-to-date auction schedule please visit swanngalleries.com.

Top lots Prices with buyer’s premium
21* $250 Reward! Runaway from the Subscriber, letterpress broadside, 1848. $37,500 I

317 V. Lafayette Newell, albumen photograph of a contraband family at Point Lookout, circa 1863-65. $32,500 I
345* E. Simms Campbell, A Night-Club Map of Harlem, printed in Manhattan: A Weekly for Wakeful New Yorkers, 1933. $27,500I
191 17th Year Afro-American’s Travel Guide, printed pamphlet, Travel Bureau, Afro-American Newspapers, 1957. $27,500 I
205 March for Freedom Now!, poster from the protest at the 1960 Republican Convention. $17,500 C
248 Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a personal letter from Martin Luther King, 1929-2000. $17,500 I
60 George Rockwood, carte-de-visite portrait of the Rev. Henry Highland Garnet, circa 1860s. $15,000 I
197* Colored Waiting Room, metal sign, circa 1950s. $15,000 C
71 Abraham Lincoln, The Proclamation of Emancipation, seventh printed edition and the only one in separate pamphlet form, 1862. $11,875 D
394 Archive of photographs of the Brown Bomber, Joe Louis, collected by his manager Julian Black, circa 1935-45 and 1970s. $11,875 C
79 An early account journal for a plantation estate on the southern coast of Jamaica, 1775-86. $11,250 I
350 Core Presents Max Roach, Freedom Now Suite… World Premier Performance, 1961. $10,000 I
209* Come Let Us Build a New World Together, poster with photograph by Danny Lyon, circa 1963. $7,250 C
321 William Trail, autograph letter signed by a private in the 28th U.S.C.T. describing the death of his brother from scurvy, 1865. $7,000 I
232 Scarce war-era carte-de-visite portrait of Douglass, albumen print, circa 1865. $6,750 C
353* Sun Ra in “Space is the Place,” movie poster, circa 1874. $6,500 I
280* I Am a Man, Memphis, dorm poster, 1968. $6,500 C
118* The Black Panther: Black Community News Service, 44 issues, 1967-71. $6,500 C
40 Autograph book including inscriptions by noted early African-American orators Moses Roper and Peter Williams, 1821-40 and 1864. $6,500 C
316 V. Lafayette Newell, carte-de-visite punishment scene of a “Negro prisoner” at Point Lookout, circa 1863-65. $6,250 I

Additional Records: Lots 41, 122, 210, 276, 289 and 373

Key:  * = Auction Record; C = Collector; D = Dealer; I = Institution

Additional highlights can be found here.

Captions:

Lot 345: E. Simms Campbell, A Night-Club Map of Harlem, printed in Manhattan: A Weekly for Wakeful New Yorkers, 1933. Sold for $27,500, a record for the printed map.

Lot 353: Sun Ra in “Space is the Place,” movie poster, circa 1874. Sold for $6,500, a record for the poster. 

Lot 191: 17th Year Afro-American’s Travel Guide, printed pamphlet, Travel Bureau, Afro-American Newspapers, 1957. Sold for $27,500.   

Specialist: Rick Stattler • [email protected] • 212-254-4710 x 27

Communications Director: Alexandra Nelson • [email protected] • 212-254-4710 x 19

Public Relations Associate: Kelsie Jankowski • [email protected] • 212-254-4710 x 23

Social media: @swanngalleries

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ILLUSTRATED CATALOGUE, ADDL. IMAGES & COMPLETE PRICES REALIZED ON REQUEST

Swann Auction Galleries is a third-generation family business as well as the world’s largest auction house for works on paper. In the last 75 years, Swann has repeatedly revolutionized the trade with such innovations as the first U.S. auction dedicated to photographs and the world’s only department of African-American Fine Art. More than 30 auctions and previews are held annually in Swann Galleries’ two-floor exhibition space in Midtown Manhattan, and online worldwide. Visit swanngalleries.com for more information.