American Beach was established in 1935 on Florida's east coast under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln Lewis, one of seven co-founders of the Afro-American Life Insurance Company, and one of Florida's first black millionaires. His vision was to create a beach resort as a benefit for company executives and as an incentive for employees.
In the era of Jim Crow segregation laws, few public places in Florida or the rest of the South were open to African Americans. From the Depression until well into the 1960's, American Beach served as a holiday and vacation destination for thousands of African Americans, and was a magnet for black celebrities such as entertainers Cab Calloway and Ray Charles, heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis and writer Zora Neale Hurston.
But in 1964, the area began to decline. Hurricane Dora destroyed much of the beach, and passage of the Civil Rights Act meant that blacks were, finally, no longer restricted to segregated beaches and the businesses that catered to them.
A fabulous and historically relevant piece of Black Americana!
Detailing in construction sets this sweet black doll apart! Her creation was very carefully executed through a combination of hand and machine stitching. She was lovingly dressed in machine-stitched clothing made from old red, pink, cream and rose-patterned scraps of cloth, while her body was hand-sewn and constructed of old, black stockings stuffed with cotton batting.
This young girl's nose and mouth are hand-embroidered, while her eyes are represented by small, black buttons. Her hand-applied and stitched hair is made of black wool yarn and has been fashioned into braided pigtails edged with faded red ribbon bows with fluffy bangs topping her forehead. Her hands are carefully hand-stitched to delineate fingers.
This sweetie is in near perfect condition with the exception of some fading to her clothing as well as two age-related, small holes to her stocking-constructed left foot and lower leg. (This wear and fading to the fabrics and stockings used in her construction may well be the very reason they were used, as they may have been discarded from personal use. Please refer to photos to view wear.)
Purchased in Charleston, South Carolina. Simply full of charm with lovely touches! A quite difficult-to-find-in-this condition, 90+-year-old, cloth rag doll!
Measuring 5 1/8 inches tall with soap dish attached, Mammy's colors- her deep red dress, mustard yellow shawl, and yellow and red polka dot head scarf- remain vibrant and brilliant with a wonderful old patina! Her face features large, dark eyes and a smiling, red mouth.
The soap dish is designed to be removed, and its anchoring cast iron peg fits into a hole atop Mammy's head. The exterior of the soap dish is cast to resemble a wicker laundry basket and is painted a slightly lighter-toned, mustard yellow.
A delightful, vintage piece of early Black Americana in premium condition!
She wears a green headscarf with white polka dots and a grouping of five, cream-colored, choker-style necklaces around her neck. Her lips are painted a bright red and her dark eye(s) is large and luminous.
The headscarf is constructed of fabric that has been coated with a stiffener--it almost feels like a very soft leather. The necklaces appear to be wire; the woman's head and neck are constructed from some sort of a composite material.
Very nicely done!
Mammy’s sweet little face has been carefully hand-stitched, and she has been nicely dressed in a red and green plaid dress with linen apron and red flowered head scarf. She holds a bunch of sticks in her right arm- presumably to add to a fire.
Condition of this wonderful miniature Mammy is excellent! Oftentimes, the nipple dries up and deteriorates, so finding a nipple doll in such fine condition is truly a treat!
In excellent condition with the exception of some minor wear to the gilt rim and scripted banner, the cup or mug features two gentleman sharing a tub bath- one Caucasian and one African-American. The African-American gent is surrounded by musical notes indicating that he is doing quite a bit of whistling, while the Caucasian gent covers his ears in annoyance. The scripted banner above their heads reads, "Whistling Rufus." "There's music in the air."
The mug is signed in the lower right corner of the tub, "Copyright Sid Smith". The base bears the black crown and banner stamp of Allertons, England as well as the printed, red-inked number "2089".
One plate depicts the sale of Uncle Tom while the other plate depicts the death of little Eva. The text on each plate is in German: "Evas Todt" or in English, "The Death of Eva", and "Slavel Tom Von LeGree Gekauft" or in English, "The Slave Tom Purchased by (Simon} LeGree".
Produced for use by children as subtle educational tools, the plates measure 7 5/8 inches in diameter and are decorated with black transfer, printed, Uncle Tom vignettes.
The condition of both plates is quite superb with subtle crazing lightly evident on the backs of plates only. Also on the backs of each plate are tiny, factory-flaw imperfections where glazing failed to bind to the earthenware (represented in close-up photo). The "Sale of Uncle Tom" plate has three such imperfections on its back side along with a tiny area of bleeding of transfer color under the glaze (see close-up photo). The "Death of Eva" plate displays more evident crazing on the back as compared to the "Sale of Tom" plate along with three factory-flaw imperfections, as described above. The "Eva" plate also appears to have three, extremely fine, light, scratch lines running across the front of the plate that are most readily noticeable only in close-up photos; when one runs a finger along the lines, the imperfections are so fine that they cannot be felt and certainly represent no threat to structural integrity.
The plates were produced by the Schramberg Pottery of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany, founded in 1820 by stoneware expert, Isidor Faist. The plate featuring the sale of Uncle Tom is impressed "Schramberg" while the other plate has no marking. It is evident, however, that both plates were manufactured by the Schramberg factory.
Constructed of cardboard with black printing, this circa 1930-40's sign reads: " Coleman's Hotel Colored. Special Attention to Tourists. Ashland Virginia".
The sign remains in all-original condition inclusive of minor discoloration as noted in photos and small chips to the upper right and lower left corners. Print source is noted: "Herald-Progress Print, Ashland, VA".
This is NOT a reproduction, but rather a fortunate preservation. It is quite amazing that this sign has survived the many years being constructed out of cardboard. It was clearly stored away in such a manner that preserved its original condition.
Travel for African Americans during the Jim Crow period was difficult and complicated, with limited options for eating, sleeping, even procuring gasoline for the car. As a result, black-owned hotels and motels placed signs such as this one prominently in their windows. There were even special travel-guides to help African Americans plan their trips, hopefully, without incident. Victor Green's "Green Guide" provided state by state lists of colored hotels, motels and other travel-related businesses that catered to African-Americans.
Quite possibly the ONLY sign remaining extant from this particular, racially segregated establishment. An historically significant piece!
ENTIRELY hand-stitched, this gent is dressed in fancy striped pants, straw shoes and hat, green belt, and in a navy blue and white polka dot shirt with a tiny breast pocket that holds a teeny pack of CAMEL cigarettes, labeled with a "C"! His outfit is topped off with a red tie that is held in place by a bean tie tack!
His face is hand-stitched with careful attention noted to the creation of his molded, 3-D nose. The weather must be warm as he wearily wipes his hot neck with a red and tan checked handkerchief!
A delightful African-American Southern character doll!
Mammy sports hand-stitched facial features, and all original, machine-stitched clothing. Mammy’s hands and arms are made of fabric-coated pipe cleaners allowing for flexibility and movement. Her corn cob body has been neatly encased in muslin. Mammy's costume is complete and quite brightly colored and even features a tiny apron pocket in which a teeny hankie is tucked!
Mammy has been well cared for over the years- no fading to clothing, no rips, tears or other blemishes! A most interesting and very seldom found Mammy doll in utterly excellent condition!
All seven of these colorful brushes have natural bristles, and range in height from 7.5 inches and 8 inches tall to the smaller, 4.5 inches tall, green and red-dressed little Mammy brushes.
The three black railroad porter brushes, the large red Mammy brush with cloth bow and the small red Mammy brush are all in near excellent condition with evidence of having been very lightly used as described:
Blue Porter with Cream colored pants: teeny, superficial "dings" to paint here and there with one teeny mark between the eyes.
Black and Cream Porter: teeny, superficial "dings" to paint here and there with one teeny mark near the mouth; paint wear to edges of cap.
Yellow Porter: paint wear primarily to right side of face and top of cap.
Large Red Mammy with Cloth Bow: paint in excellent condition with a couple tiny rubs here and there. Natural bristles have faint trace of original red painted dots to natural bristle skirt.
Small Red Mammy: paint in excellent condition; faint trace of original red dots on natural bristle skirt.
The following two brushes are also in very nice, barely used condition with minor imperfection as described below:
Large Red Mammy with hand-painted bow: brush has seen a little more use than the others(see photos)- very minor paint wear from use to Mammy's back. Black paint drip to collar area. Natural bristles dyed red.
Small Green Mammy: green cap and blouse, small, 4.5" tall --in very good condition with exception to paint striation on face that occurred during manufacture (close-up photo makes this appear more prominent than what is seen with the eye).
Please note that many of the white spots seen in the photos are light reflections and are NOT areas of missing paint. If one looks closely, the teeny areas of missing paint can be distinguished from the light reflections.
The taller brushes are all priced at $85 each. The smaller, 4.5", green and red-dressed mammy brushes are priced at $60 each.
Please take the time to peruse our second grouping a Mammy and Porter brushes, listed separately.
Following the conclusion of World War II, the American Tobacco Company of Virginia changed its product name from Nigger Hair to Bigger Hair, seeking to broaden the product's marketing appeal as well as viewing the latter label as the more-socially acceptable one. (The earlier Nigger Hair moniker was used by the American Tobacco Company from the 1890's through the early, pre-WWII 1940s; the lithographed can was manufactured by the B. Leidersdorf Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.) Interestingly, the company DID NOT change the image of the African woman, but merely added the words Fiji Islander to the left of her face in its indifferent and weak attempt to move further away from the earlier, severely derogatory label.
Measuring 7 inches high x 5 3/4 inches wide, the container is in good condition, perhaps a 7 out of 10, with one side exhibiting minor surface scuffing, while on the other side more scuffs and rubs are evident. Some minor wear around the edge of the top of the container likely occurred from simply taking the cover on and off; however, this is completely concealed by the cover. The original cardboard cover was lost with the passage of time; the replacement tin cover shown was in place when this container was acquired.
The original brownish orange color of the container remains consistent throughout, and the structural integrity of the cardboard is quite sturdy. Superficial rust is evident on the inside and outside of the metal base; this rust does not impact integrity of the tin base. The container retains partial remnants of its paper Federal Revenue Tobacco seal on both sides.
This very rare tobacco container is just a wonderful example of latter Black Americana advertising. The container looks better "in person" than in the photos as the camera actually accentuated the appearance of the scuffing, especially on the "better" side!
If the Nigger Hair Tobacco container is currently in your collection, the addition of the Bigger Hair container will complete your collection from both a cultural and historical perspective!
The well-appointed Chef Uncle Mose sports a very wide grin and holds a bowl of eggs in his right arm and a wooden mixing spoon in his left. He is in very fine condition with a very subtle suggestion here and there of a remnant of his original gold paint. There are subtle dings to the backside as well as evidence of superficial surface rust. The following is imprinted on the Chef's backside: “Compliments The Toledo Stove And Range Co”, although the striking of the "O" and "L" are very faint. This imprint documents the spoon rest’s original function- continuous promotional advertising presented as a free giveaway to buyers purchasing the company’s products!
The well-dressed Aunt Jemima Mammy sports a wide grin and holds an iron in her right hand and other household implements in the left. She is in very fine condition with a smattering of some very subtle superficial rusting here and there. Evidence of the original gold paint is also subtle but can be seen. The back side of the spoon rest is perfect and looks as though it came right out of the factory just yesterday with a very solid and clear imprinting of the Toledo Stove Company advertising.
A very rare find!
The character of Rastus was based on an actual person- a black waiter from Chicago- who was paid $5 for the use of his image by Colonel Mapes, the General Manager of the Nabisco Company, the owner of Cream of Wheat. The company began using the waiter’s image in the early 1900’s, replacing the original woodcut of a black chef that appeared on the packaging from 1894 until that time. Interestingly from a social and historical perspective, the depiction of the ever-pleasant, always-smiling Rastus was both a subtle yet positive departure from the extremely derogatory advertising much more typical of the era- advertising that nearly always featured blacks with wildly contorted and exaggerated features most often in very undignified poses and predicaments.
This beautiful, scarcely-found puzzle, which is in excellent condition, is attractively framed in a hardwood molding colored in walnut, ebony and gold. The puzzle frame is original to the puzzle, and it is contemporary to the production date of the puzzle as it still retains its original wood panel backing, a framing technique not typically found after 1910. The puzzle pieces, themselves, are very finely and delicately cut, and are of a much smaller size than what is typically found in puzzles dating from the 1920’s and beyond.
A phenomenal piece that would be a centerpiece to any serious Black Americana, Advertising, or Cream of Wheat collection!
PLEASE NOTE: Any discoloration, white spots, or other unnatural variances in color are due to the unavoidable light reflections caused by the glass in the framing. The presence of the glass made photography quite a challenge!
The child’s head nods up and down in a "yes" motion by pivoting on a tiny metal bar inserted through her neck (see photos).
Condition is mint, and the piece is signed on the bottom of her right foot: “Hand Painted Lenwile China Ardalt Japan 6530 B”.
Black nodders are quite difficult to come by and have become an interesting sub-collecting category in the field of Black Americana! Not to be missed!
Please see the equally-difficult-to-find companion piece also available - the Black Boy Child Clown Nodder by Ardalt, Japan!!!
The first dexterity game features a beautiful and vividly-colored graphic cardboard housed in a metal casing of a black gentleman blowing smoke rings out of his mouth. The original cardboard backing remains intact. The game marked "Made in Germany", features a cut-out hole where the gentleman's mouth is. I do not know the rules or details of how the game was played. This game is in very nice condition, a 9 out of 10 rating, and displays wonderfully! Quite visually-appealing!
The second dexterity game features a Googly-Eyed African Native. It is also German-made and has a documented copyright history of 1914. The original string remains attached, and when pulled, the eyes circle around in their sockets! Two vertical pins attached to the back side make it possible to attach this game to clothing as a gag pin. Minor paint wear is evident, all parts are original and functional.
Her composition face is in impeccable condition with sharp, well-drawn painted facial features. Her face is further accented by 3 darling curls peaking out from under her brightly colored cloth bandanna!
Her body is machine-stitched cotton fabric stuffed with sawdust. On the back of her right thigh, her place of origin is stamped: "POLAND". Her little flowered skirt is also machine stitched and is the only piece of clothing that may be removed.
Condition is superb with the exception of a hand-stitched repair to the seam line of her left foot where the foot is joined to the leg. Does not detract.