“Mitchell’s Point, Looking Down the Columbia” (1887) by Grafton Tyler Brown

 

A MIDWEST AUCTION HOUSE is selling more than 300 items of African Americana from the collection of art dealer Steve Turner. In addition to operating a contemporary art gallery in Los Angeles, Turner has been collecting rare objects documenting African American history since 1996. Titled The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana, Part I, the Cowan’s Auctions sale is Feb. 20 at Hindman Chicago.

The vast collection includes photographs, books, manuscripts, and related ephemera. There is a concentration of materials exploring the role of blacks in settling the Western frontier in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, African Americans in California, and the Black Panther Party.

The opening lot is a scarce photographic image of Harriet Tubman. The 1892 cabinet card by H.S. Squyer of Auburn, N.Y., is described as “the last known studio portrait of Harriet Tubman.” Another standout is “Mitchell’s Point, Looking Down the Columbia River” (1887), a scenic painting (shown above) by Grafton Tyler Brown (1841-1918), a pioneering California artist and businessman.

 


Lot 1: Harriet Tubman Cabinet Card (1892) by H.S. Squyer, Auburn, New York. | Starting Price $5,000. Estimate $10,000-$15,000. Sold for $51,250 fees included ($41,000 hammer price)

 

Brown is considered the first African American professional artist in California and was the state’s first African American contractor. He had a successful lithography business in San Francisco specializing in portraits of homes and topographical images of whole towns, and also printing stock certificates. He shuttered the company in 1879 to pursue painting picturesque landscapes throughout the West full time.

Other highlights include two carte de visite (CDV) photographic portraits of Frederick Douglass made in 1864 and 1878; “What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking,” which is considered the second cookbook ever published by an African American; and photographs by Carl Van Vechten and black photographers such as Augustus Washington, James P. Ball, and Wallace and William Goodridge, known as the Goodridge Brothers.

Negro directories, political pinback buttons, and photographs of ordinary African Americans and their communities in California (Los Angeles, Pasadena, San Diego, Napa, Bakersfield), Colorado, Arizona, Nebraska, Kansas, and Texas, are also offered. Additional subjects include the Buffalo soldiers, heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson, rodeo cowboy Bill Pickett, Yale University (and a few other colleges), entertainment, black newspapers and magazines, and myriad other notable historic figures and areas of interest. CT

 

VIEW LOTS 317 items are offered in the sale

 

UPDATED (02/20/20): Sales results added

 

TOP IMAGE: Lot 97: GRAFTON TYLER BROWN, “Mitchell’s Point, Looking Down the Columbia,” 1887 (oil on canvas, 18 x 30 inches). | Starting Price $15,000. Estimate $30,000-$50,000. Sold for $59,375 fees included ($47,500 hammer price)

 

FIND MORE about Steve Turner and his work related to artist William H. Johnson here, here, and here

READ MORE about Grafton Taylor Brown in Los Angeles Times exhibition review

 

BOOKSHELF
“San Francisco Lithographer: African American Artist Grafton Tyler Brown” was published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 2014. Also consider, “Enterprising Images: The Goodridge Brothers, African American Photographers, 1847-1922.” The volume “William H. Johnson: Truth Be Told” is co-authored by Steve Turner and Victoria Dailey.

 


Lot 2: Unpublished CDV of Frederick Douglass (circa 1864) by Benjamin F. Smith. | Starting Price $1,500. Estimate $3,000-$5,000. Sold for $12,500 fees included ($10,000 hammer price)

 


Lot 238: Abby Fisher, “What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, Soups, Pickles, Preserves, Etc.,” (1881) Second cookbook published by an African American, Published by San Francisco: Women’s Co-operative Printing Office. | Starting Price $3,000. Estimate $6,000-$8,000. Sold $7,500 fees included ($6,000 hammer price)

 


Lot 31: Cabinet Card of Buffalo Soldier Wearing Buffalo Coat (circa 1886) by John C.H. Grabill. | Starting Price $4,000. Estimate $8,000-10,000. Sold for $16,250 fees included ($13,000 hammer price)

 


Lot 58: Sixth Plate Daguerreotype of Elegant African American Lady (circa 1858-60) Photographer, sitter, and locale unknown. | Starting Price $1,000. Estimate $2,000-$3,000. Sold for $2,375 fees included ($1,900 hammer price)

 


Lot 69: Sculptor Edmonia Lewis CDV (circa 1870) by Augustus Marshall. | Starting Price $1,500. Estimate $3,000-$5,000. Sold for $15,000 fees included ($12,000 hammer price)

 


Lot 98: Lot of eight Printer Samples (circa 1870-1876) by Grafton Tyler Brown. | Starting Price $1,000. Estimate $2,000-$3,000. Sold for $1,875 fees included ($1,500 hammer price)

 


Lot 102: “Life and Adventures of James Williams: A Fugitive Slave,” Only Known Slave Narrative Published Independently in California (San Francisco Women’s Union Print, 1873). | Starting Price $1,000. Estimate $2,000-$4,000. Sold for $2,375 fees included ($1,900 hammer price)

 


Lot 129: Photo Postcard of Black-Owned Provident Bank & Trust Co., Fort Worth, Texas (circa 1910). | Starting Price $750. Estimate $1,500-$2,000. Sold for $1,750 fees included ($1,400 hammer price)

 


Lot 131: Photo Postcard of Black Barbershop, J J Cotta Shop in Oklahoma (circa 1910). | Starting Price $1,000. Estimate $2,000-$4,000. Sold for $5,625 fees included ($4,500 hammer price)

 


Lot 188: Negro History Week Program, Palo Alto, Calif. (circa 1942). | Starting Price $150. Estimate $300-$500. Sold for $320 fees included ($250 hammer price)

 


Lot 207: Free the San Quentin 6 Poster (1971) by Jane Norling Peoples Press. | Starting Price $1,000. Estimate $2,000-$3,000. UNSOLD

 


Lot 213: You Can Jail a Revolutionary, but You Can’t Jail the Revolution Fred Hampton Poster (circa 1969) by Emory Douglas. | Starting Price $750. Estimate $1,500-$2,500. Sold $2,625 fees included ($2,100 hammer price)

 


Lot 219: Angela Davis Pinbacks (9), Pamphlets (6), and Broadsides (2), all circa 1970. UNSOLD

 


Lot 308: W.E.B. Du Bois, “What the Negro Has Done for the United States and Texas,” Pamphlet for 1936 Texas Centennial, Hall of Negro Life, Cover illustration by Aaron Douglas. | Starting Price $150. Estimate $300-$500. Starting Price $350. Estimate $700-$1,000. Sold for $2,875 fees included ($2,300 hammer price)

 


Lot 312: Lot of four Harry Belafonte Real Photo Postcards (circa 1947) by Carl Van Vechten. | Starting Price $150. Estimate $300-$600. Sold for $281 fees included ($225 hammer price)

 

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