All prints are wood engravings published in New York in issues of Harper's Weekly. All are in very good condition, except as noted.
A fine double-fold illustration featuring several vignettes of domestic scenes. Interestingly, a mix of ethnicities appears: of the six images of rural American gatherings, two feature African-American groups: "Husking Corn" and "The Breakdown" are counterparts to Caucasian gatherings ("The Applecut, "The Dance," "Quilting," and "Raffling"). In all vignettes, individuals are treated evenly: the illustrations are not satirical but descriptive of domestic life in the country for two different groups of people. $35
A contemporary image of a slave auction in Montgomery, Alabama, by Theodore Davis, who had traveled around the South at the beginning of the Civil War. $85
A wood engraving taken from a sketch sent in by a Union soldier. Writing from the Missouri front, Sgt. Charles O. Dewey of the 4th Regiment of Iowa volunteers describes a horrific iron collar worn by a runaway slave who took refuge with the Union regiment. A tight-fitting collar with three prongs, it had been worn by the enslaved man for two months as he escaped his owner. Text accompanies image. $60
As the accompanying text describes, this image depicted reactions to the immensity of Sherman's troop march through the South.$35
Accompanying text describes the illustration, calculated to advance Harper's Weekly's Republican advocacy of civil rights for freed slaves:
"The illustration ... is one of the most significant possible. It shows the newly-enfranchised citizens of the United States engaged in the discussion of political questions upon which they are to vote; and however crude the arguments of the orator may be, the can not be more so than those which may be heard every evening in the clubs of the 'superior race' in the city of New York. The scene is wholly characteristic. The eager attention of the listeners, and the evidently glib toungue of the speaker, reveal that remarkable adaptability and readiness so observable in the colored race. They take naturally to peaceful and awful forms; they are naturally eloquent; and instead of scoffing loftily at them as incompetent, their white brethren will find it necessary to bestir themslves, or the 'incompetent' class will be the better educated and more successful. Does any man seriously doubt whether it is better for this vast population to be sinking deeper and deeper in ignorance and servility, or rising into general intelligence and self-respect? They can not be pariahs; they can not be peons; they must be slaves or citizens. The policty of enslaving them has produced such results as we have seen; and we are now to see that liberty is truly conservative, and that honesty is the best policy." $45
A native of Illinois, Menard moved to Louisiana following the Civil War. From that state, he was elected as the first African-American to serve in Congress. $30
Of the scene (which features a junk dealer apprising a potential purchase from an African American housewife), the magazine comments that the artist "is always very happy in his delineation of negro character and the incidents of negro life in the Southern States. He never attempts to idealize his characters, all his figures being caught from real life, as any one may see hwo has been in the South. The illustration on this page is a sketch from an actual scene." $55
In 1873-1874, the British Empire established the Gold Coast as one of its colonies. Here, native African crewmen are depicted on a Bristih ship making an expedition to enforce colonial rule. $45
Four vignettes within article illustrate: "Exterior of the Church," "The Rev. James Holmes," "A Baptizing," and "Interior of the church, from the Western Wing." $50
In eight sketches, the artist illustrates daily life around the city, primarily showcasing its black residents at work and leisure. $75
In a series of vignettes, Moser captures the activity surrounding the buying and selling of cotton at the rail yards in small-town Mississippi, largely powered by the labor of African-American sharecroppers. $45
As enfranchised white men gather to talk politics, three African Americans occupy the edges of the country store. In the back, a bearded black man looks up from his task at the grain barrels. Nearly hidden in shadow, he is separated from the conversants. At the counter, two ill-clad black children look at books -- in theory, they will have opportunities for education that their parents and grandparents never had. Significantly, the man helping them at the counter leans on a crutch, probably an amputee veteran of the Confederate army. $75
A black peddler walks the street in Baltimore, Maryland, selling oysters from two large lidded tins he carries. $50
Thomas Nast. "'An Incident of General Sherman's March Through Georgia,' From a Picture by T. Nast, in the New York Exhibition." From The Illustrated London News, October 20, 1866. 11 x 15 3/4 (sheet). Wood engraving by William Luson Thomas.
This pair of similar images composes a striking example of one of America's most well-known late 19th century artists. As an illustrator, Nast (1840-1920) achieved artistic renown during the Civil War, and later as the creator of our conception of Santa Claus. These two images, however, show Nast's changing perspective on the war, evolving view of the enslaved, and developing skill as a painter. With the earlier image Harper's, while stating "the picture explains itself," attached an extract from a Union officer's letter stating enslaved "in huge numbers, men, women, and children, come and evince the most comical and unsophisticated manifestations of delight at our appearance. The older ones bow, and grin, and scrape, and throw themselves into all sorts of the most ludicrous attitudes. The younger ones dance and frisk about in high glee," adding "[t]hese poor creatures are about all the friends we have in this region. They most willingly give all the information they have."
In 1865, reworking the image as an oil painting for an exhibit at the National Academy of Design, Nast titled it "General Sherman's March through Georgia—his Advance arriving at a Plantation," as though it represented a more recent occurrence. Here the blacks are rendered much less stereotypically, as to both mien and behavior, while the disdain of the Southern ladies of the house toward the Federals carries from the earlier work to the later. The image is altered and expanded in order to show captured rebels, a distance altered from hills to a river, an elaborately uniformed Zouave having the most prominent placement, and a black child presenting a nosegay of flowers to the Union drummer boy. As Harper's New Monthly Magazine described it, "The contrast of the group of officers and ladies with that of the soldiers and slaves is most effective. The eye steals away between them to the fields and river meadows beyond, covered with busy little parties of foragers and troops and slaves, and full of characteristic incident and landscape. Even the universal military bustle is evidently temporary. The languor and luxuriance of Southern nature is hardly disturbed, and seems with placid disdain to await the departure of the intruders."
From this painting, William Luson Thomas (1830-1900) executed the wood engraving for the London News, which called Nast's work "one of the most remarkable historical paintings in a late exhibition of fine arts at New York," noting "[i]ts conception is eminently dramatic, and the attitude of the figures tells its own tale," adding "[o]n the whole, we should say, that the haughty ladies and the pert child at the top of the steps will do well to follow the example of their dusky servants, and give the new comers a more friendly reception, leaving it to the masculine chivalry of the South to try if it can deal with the invaders of Georgia by force of arms; and, if not, to acquiesce in the restored authority of the Union."
The Pair: $175
Within the spectrum of Harper's images, political cartoons occupied a particularly eloquent niche. With such famous cartoonists as Thomas Nast, the magazine was poised both to reflect and to shape national opinion of current affairs. By employing the figure of the black man as a symbol of regions, ideologies, and race, Nast and his contemporaries documented the range of attitudes held by Harper's European-American readers toward Americans of African descent.
Black manhood suffrage and Chief Supreme Court Justice Salmon P. Chase's support thereof are the focus of Nast's highly-charged cartoon. Hoping for the Democratic nomination for president, Chase faced opposition from other Democrats, who felt that Republican support for African American civil rights would lead to interracial marriage. To scare supporters away from the Republican party, Democrats would often pose the question, "Would you marry your daughter to a Nigger?"
This image presents a complex layering of nineteenth century racial and ethnic prejudices: though Nast's Republican party affiliations indicate a general sympathy for freed slaves, his use of a black man as a symbol in a very unpleasant joke complicates the notion. His more blatant anti-Irish sentiment appears here, as well, in the particularly homely visage of the "bride," who represents supporters of the Democratic party (always drawn by Nast as poor, Irish buffoons). More than anything, this cartoon represents the vast web of ethnic prejudices in nineteenth century American society and the problems that arose when politicians tried to disentangle themselves from it. $55
In an election year, Nast drew many cartoons pointing out the Democratic party's inconsistent attitudes toward newly-enfranchised black Americans. Here, he uses his usual caricature of an Irish Democrat, seated among swine and yet complaning of the stench of Replublican freed slaves. In a second image, Democratic politicians cater to caricatured black voters, offering balls and parties complete with white debutantes. More than anything else, Nast puts forth a biting criticism of the Democratic party; Irish and African-American stereotypes are only tools in his political expression. $40
Shorn of his suffrage by a white Delilah, a black Samson is surrounded by southern Democrats waving banners of the Ku Klux Klan and calling for a re-instatement of slavery. Nast's image is anything but subtle as he sharply criticises his party's opposition. $45
As white legislators look on, caricatured African-American officials shake their fists and hurl insults at one another. Like a virtuous schoolmarm, the allegorical figure Columbia stands at the lectern with a willow switch, ready to back up her admonitions. $65
A pair of images on a single page celebrating the passage of the Civil Rights Bill and acknowledging its cultural limitations. Between the two images is a statement from General Benjamin F. Butler regarding the nature of the bill, in which he explains that "the Civil Rights Bill only confirms these rights of all citizens to the colored man in consideration of the prejudice against him and an attempt in cerrtain parts of the country to interfere with the exercise of those common-law rights, and has enacted a penalty as a means of enforcing the right in his behalf in consideration of his helpless and dependent condition." That bill did not, Butler points out, mandate that every private business be open to everyone, regardless of race. The second image acknowledges that some saloons still refused to serve African-Americans, and points out that perhaps there are some places a reasonable man of any race would prefer not to frequent. $50
As post-bellum healing continued for the fractured United States, achieving uniform railroad gauge marked great progress. Commercially very separate before the Civil War, the North and South were covered with tracks from different railroad lines. To overcome the cumbersome transitions between different gauges, rail lines began to update tracks, accomplishing standard gauge in 1886. This print celebrates the event as a harbinger of national unity, an indication of hopes for continued cooperation between former enemies. Interestingly, Nast depicts certain holdovers from earlier times: behind the Southern gentleman crouches a black man, clad in a work apron and holding a spade. In the crowd, a black man cheers. Though he shows proper respect for the auspicious event, Nast also raises questions of true progress in the status of freed slaves in the Southern states. Contrasting the cheering figure in the back to the subservient man in the front, Nast also seems to ask if the new transportation lines will open channels by which Southern black populations might find opportunity in the North. Clearly, according to the artist, there are still great differences between regions. $40
While the "Darktown" prints by Currier & Ives are the most famous images of post-bellum African Americans, more people probably saw this series in Harper's Weekly. With its impressive circulation around the United States, Harper's reached more than 10,000 subscribers with each issue. To white subscribers, the satires were humorous. To modern viewers, they reveal the racism with which America has always struggled, perhaps never so keenly as during Reconstruction. Illustrators who contributed to this series were Sol Eytinge, Jr. (1833-1905), William Ludwell Sheppard (1833-1912), S.C. McCutcheon (fl. in New York 1880-1883) and "Sphinx."
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