Quinn's Honors Black History Month with Feb. 22 Auction of African American Art and Memorabilia
Falls Church, VA - On Thursday, Feb. 22, Quinn’s Auction Galleries will pay tribute to Black History Month with a two-part auction that incorporates historical material, early photographs and memorabilia from its associated company, Waverly Rare Books.
The seamless, consecutive sessions will start at 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time with a boutique selection of 65 portraits and paintings by Harlem Spiral Collective artist Merton D. Simpson (1928-1913) and continues with the Johnson Family Collection of Black Americana and Ephemera. All forms of bidding will be available for the entire auction, including absentee and live via the Internet.
The opening portion of the sale, titled “Faces of Merton Simpson,” focuses on images of celebrated Black Americans and other celebrities painted by Simpson, an acclaimed Abstract Expressionist, after he joined the Spiral group in the mid 1960s. Other members of the Spiral arts alliance included Romare Bearden and Hale Woodruff.
Among those depicted in Simpson’s portraits, collages and studies are Jesse Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Spike Lee, Diana Ross, Maya Angelou, Leontyne Price, Diahann Carroll, Marian Anderson and many other African-American entertainers and leaders of the struggle for racial equality. Many of the portraits are very reasonably estimated at $200-$400. Additionally, the sale features several desirable abstract paintings by Simpson.
The collection amassed by the Johnson family of New Jersey spans three centuries of Black American history and includes a vast array of toys, dolls, board games and other collectibles, as well as important documents, books, photographs, advertising and other ephemera.
“The Johnson Collection provides a panoramic overview of both the severe challenges and great triumphs Black Americans have experienced in their rise from slavery to the White House,” said Quinn’s Executive Vice President Matthew Quinn. “It is sometimes difficult to view our past through a lens like this, but it is more important that we never forget.”
Two cast-iron mechanical banks reflect the negative stereotypes perpetrated against Black Americans during their long struggle for freedom. One depicts a man, the other, a woman in a yellow dress known as “Dinah.” The Dinah bank was patented in England in 1911 by the John Harper Co., and retains its original paint. Estimate: $200-$300
A toy highlight is the Heubach Koppelsdorf bisque baby doll in a striped dress, with beautifully molded features. It stands 10½ inches high and is estimated at $100-$200.
There are many ceramic items, from Weller’s figural tablewares to cookie jars and a fine Limoges pitcher. A pair of tobacco humidors depicting a black man and woman, both with removable hat lids, will be offered with a $40-$60 estimate.
The Johnson collection is tremendously diverse, covering numerous categories including clocks, textiles, magazines, sheet music, boxing mementos, Civil War abolitionist postal covers, books, postcards, trade cards, and other ephemera.
A Green River Whiskey tin advertising sign depicts the distillery’s familiar man and horse imagery with the logo “She was bred in old Kentucky.” Copyrighted in 1899, the sign is accompanied by two (empty) Green River pint bottles. Estimate: $1,000-$2,000
Three lots contain cruel reminders of slavery in the form of wrist, neck and hand shackles. Lot 345 consists of two sets of shackles, one with a padlock indicating an issue date of 1856-7; the other bearing an anchor-and-sun logo. The pair is estimated at $200-$300. Also, there are five historically important scrapbooks that were maintained from 1876 to 1892 by former slave David F. Nelson. One of the scrapbooks contains numerous articles about Nelson’s escape from slavery, other runaway slaves, and related subjects. Its estimate is $120-$240.
Quinn’s Feb. 22 auction will commence at 5:30 p.m. Eastern Time. For additional information on any item in the auction, call 703-532-5632, ext. 575; email [email protected]. Quinn’s is located at 360 S. Washington St., Falls Church, VA 22046. Online: www.quinnsauction.com. View the catalogue and bid absentee or live via the Internet at https://www.LiveAuctioneers.com or https://www.Invaluable.com.
Image: One of five scrapbooks maintained from 1876-1892 by former slave David F. Nelson, contains numerous articles about his escape from slavery, other runaway slaves, related subjects. Est. $120-$240 (Lot 344: https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/59965802_5-scrapbooks-maintained-by-former-slave-1876-1892)