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Civil War images of Blacks
[ Illustrated newspapers | Kurz & Allison | "Contraband" ]
All the following prints are uncolored wood engravings, 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 Afircan-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 wood engraving taken from a sketch sent in my 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
All three images appear on the same page, along with text explaining the daring escape of Smalls and the rest of the crew from their Confederate Navy masters. $45
As the accompanying text describes, this image depicted reactions to the immensity of Sherman's troop march through the South.$35
The first African-American lawyer admitted to practice before the Supreme Court. $30
The Chicago firm of Kurz & Allison is well known for its production of commemorative prints of American historical scenes. Founded in 1880, the firm's avowed purpose was to design "for large scale establishments of all kinds, and in originating and placing on the market artistic and fancy prints of the most elaborate workmanship." Elaborate they certainly were- the majority of their prints being bright and dramatic, with action throughout the image. Drawn in a broad, graphic style that developed from Kurz's background as a muralist, these prints have a striking appearance that makes them not only interesting historical images but also excellent decorative prints. Of note is the fact that the Kurz & Allison prints are some of the only Civil War battle prints to prominently feature the role of the African-American troops.
All approx. 21 x 28. Chromolithographs. Very good condition, except as noted.
Black troops, under General Steedman, crest the Confederate battlements while their opponents retreat before their assault. $650
The picture shows the 54th Massachusetts Regiment which had fought under Robert Gould Shaw at the Battle of Ft. Wagner in 1863. Under the command of General Truman Seymour, this regiment, along with others, took Jacksonville on 6 February 1864, and on a long march through the interior to Olustee suffered heavy losses. The Union forces never took Olustee but neutralized Confederate forces in Florida for the remainder of the war. $700
On May 23rd, three slaves--Shepard Mallory, Frank Baker, and James Townsend--escaped to the Union's Fort Monroe. They had been sent by their owner to work on the Confederate battlements at Sewell's Point and they soon took an opportunity to row at night across Hampton Roads, where they were then taken to the fort's commander, General Benjamin Butler. According to the Fugitive Slave Law, Butler should have returned the slaves to their owner. However, not only was their owner in rebellion against the United States, but the slaves had been working at building fortifications to threaten his command. Thus Butler argued that with Virginia's secession there was no longer a legal obligation to return the slaves and that he would seize them as "contraband of war."
Though Lincoln had been insisting that he was not threatening slavery in the South, he accepted Butler's argument and let the ruling stand; from thence forward, any slaves escaping to the North were accepted as "contraband." This had a profound impact on the war. When slaves in the South heard about this, they were encouraged to escape, and these runaways--numbering perhaps half a million--became a major source for manpower that were used by the Union Army both for workers and later for soldiers.
"'Work's Over'-Scenes Among the Beaufort Contrabands." From Harper's Weekly. New York, December 21, 1861. Cover illustration, 9 x 10 1/2. Wood engraving. Light waterstains in corners. Very good condition.
A fascinating collage of images showing the "contrabands" once they have escaped to the Union side. The central image is of a happy encampment of ex-slaves enjoying the end of the day. While a number of women are show still doing laundry, the majority are relaxed and chatting while the children roughhouse and dance. It goes out saying that this image was intended as a sharp contrast to their lives before they escaped. $40
"Contrabands coming into Fortress Monroe." Ca. 1865. Wood engraving by Adrian-Probasco. 4 x 6. Very good condition. $35
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©The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. February 24, 2014