From approximately 1915 through the 1930's, Mrs. Vargas-Alphonso, influenced by the artistry of her father who also sculpted in wax, crafted a variety of wax dolls inspired by the black folk she saw on New Orleans's street corners while growing up. Sold exclusively at the time through Harriet's, of 318 Rue Royale in the French Quarter of New Orleans, the completely hand-made, one-of-a-kind dolls are seldom found on today's market due to their inherently fragile nature, making them highly sought after in the Black Memorabilia Collectible arena.
This figure, known as the Cotton Seller with Child, is most particularly hard to find and thus is quite highly sought after as it features a very young, female black child standing in a basket of newly-picked cotton. The Vargas family seldom included children or infants in their depictions of the numerous trades of black New Orleans folk, making any characterization featuring a child or an infant more than significantly rare.
Vargas wax figures are distinctly characterized by their interesting but highly exaggerated facial features. This female, Mama, Cotton Seller wears a red and white kerchief on her head, a red and white checked scarf around her neck, and a yellow and white checked shirt and skirt with an apron that matches her head scarf - all constructed of actual cloth fabric that was coated with a fine layer of clear wax to stiffen them. At her feet is a very large, wax-constructed basket made to simulate wicker that is filled with cotton and within which her young female child stands. The Cotton Seller's wax body is internally supported by a wire frame through which the figure is securely attached to the wooden base. The bottom of the base is stamped "Genuine VARGAS New Orleans, LA".
This wonderful figure is in amazing condition for her 75+ years of age with no apparent or visible imperfections other than some missing fingers, a condition which is quite common among found Vargas figures.
The Cotton Seller's young, female child also has some missing fingers, and additionally, her neck shows a contiguous crack all the way around. Because her structure is also supported by internal wiring, her head remains securely attached to her body. Please note that the child is merely placed inside the cotton basket and was never securely glued into it. The wax cotton basket, which was originally glued to the wooden base, has become loosened from it; however, when placed on the base, it will easily remain in place for display.
"The Golliwogg at the Sea-Side", published in 1898 by Longmans, Green & Co, London & New York, was illustrated by Florence K. Upton, with story written by her mother, Bertha. This book was the 3rd Golliwogg adventure in a series of thirteen Golliwogg adventures by Upton, with the last published in 1909-- all of which are incredibly difficult to find today.
This hard cover book, measuring 8.75 inches high x 11.5 inches long, is a total of 63 pages in length. The book is lavishly illustrated with 32 full-color illustrations and tells the story of Golly's adventures at the sea shore. Golly and his friends, suffering from boredom, go off to the seashore to try their hand at sunbathing, swimming in the ocean, crab fishing, boating—all with considerable catastrophe—until finally trying a hoped-for-peaceful hayride through the countryside—all for naught!!
The Golliwog, itself, was based on a Black minstrel doll that Florence Kate Upton, born in 1873 of English parents, had played with as a small child in New York. Upton's Golliwog character was first introduced to the world in her 1895 book entitled The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls. Like the rag doll that inspired it, the Golliwog in her book was a less-than-handsome creature with very dark, jet black skin, large white-rimmed eyes, red clown lips, and wild, frizzy hair. Golliwogs are typically male and are generally dressed in a jacket, trousers, bow tie, and stand-up collar in a combination of red, white, blue, black, and occasionally yellow colors.
The book is in very fine but not perfect condition-- not surprising given the book's 113 years of age! Wear to hard-board-cover edges and corners. Binding remains strong and tight with center-taping coming a bit lose on one side, but not effecting integrity. A couple of the pages have 1/2inch tears at base, likely the result of simply turning the pages. Book is complete, with no missing pages.
Truly a fabulous find! Only the 2nd time I have EVER had the pleasure of offering one of these wonderfully-rare, 1st edition, Upton, children's book in my 26 years of dealing in Black Memorabilia!!
Measuring 10.75 inches wide x 8.25 inches long, the book has seen extremely gentle use as evidenced by the perfect condition of the little boys' heads which, while providing visual interest, are primarily present to allow easy turning of each page. Given this purpose, it is quite remarkable that there is neither neck creasing nor edge wear! Front and back covers are constructed of heavy cardboard, the pages of heavier stock paper. The front board is in near perfect condition with minor corner wear on two of the four corner edges, and very subtle edge wear. The back board evidences minor soiling from handling.
Interestingly, on the very first page, a previous owner from long ago drew his or her own rendition of one of the little boys' heads using a very fine-tipped black ink pen, printing the words beneath it, "This is Karen's Book". This work is quite artistically rendered and blends right in with the original art on the page.
The book retains its brilliant, bright, crayon-box-like colors. The book has ten pages with alternating color and black and white illustrations as noted in photos. I did not have sufficient space to post photos of all pages, but those present are representative of overall condition. Some pages evidence a hint of age-discoloration, but all pages are free of rips and creasing. The binding is tight and the book retains its original, red, binding spiral.
Originally published in 1868 under the Title of “The Ten Little Indians,” this poem was used during minstrel shows, which oftentimes were traveling acts, performed by white actors in blackface following the Civil War. The following year, the poem was adapted to this overtly horrid, racist rendition, replacing the word Indians with “Nigger” in both minstrel shows, printed sheet music, and children’s nursery rhyme books. This version married the stereotypes of violence and ignorance within the African-American population with the intent of "villain-izing" freed black males while simultaneously allowing violent acts to befall the black characters portrayed in the rhyme.
This 1942 version having changed the derogatory term nigger to that of colored (equally derogatory), also depicts a somewhat tempered portrayal of the violence befalling the characters as compared to earlier versions of the rhyme.
Ten little colored boys sitting in a line; one slid off the roof, then there were nine.
Nine little colored boys fished with worms for bait; one fell in the river, then there were eight.
Eight little colored boys flying up to heaven; one tried to parachute, then there were seven.
Seven little colored boys doing circus tricks; one teased an elephant, then there were six.
Six little colored boys found honey in a hive; one tried to pet a bee, then there were five.
Five little colored boys heard a lion roar; One didn't run in time, then there were four.
Four little colored boys started out to ski; One hit a snowman, then there were three.
Three little colored boys cooked some chicken stew; One ate the pot-ful, then there were two.
Two little colored boys playing with a gun; Thought it wasn't loaded, then there was one.
One little colored boy thought it would be fun to settle down and marry, then there was none.
He had a family of colored boys and then, before very long, there were ten of them again.
Both dolls are in near perfect condition with the exception of a tiny teardrop mark under brother's left eye and a tiny hole next to sister's left side of face on her hairline. Detailing is very sweet with nicely embroidered facial features and color-coordinated, machine-stitched clothing. Hair is authentic looking made of fuzzy wool yarn-- brother's hair is curly and nubby--- sister's is done in a head full of bow-tied pigtails! Bodies are machine-stitched, brown cotton that are each stuffed with cotton batting.
A pair of cuties!!!
It has been noted that their creation was encouraged through President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Depression era program, the Work Projects Administration (WPA), in existence from 1935-1943. The WPA was designed to provide jobs across the country during the Great Depression. While most jobs were in construction and infrastructure, the most well-known project arm of the WPA, known as Federal Project Number One, employed musicians, artists, writers, actors and directors in arts, drama, media, and literacy projects. The five projects assigned to this consortium were: the Federal Writers’ Project (FWP), the Historical Records Survey (HRS), the Federal Theatre Project (FTP), the Federal Music Project (FMP), and the Federal Art Project (FAP). The creation of these dolls fell under the WPA Federal Art Project, with the goal of representing the various aspects of the culture, work and lives of the Southern black community of this time period.
The female doll depicts a black mammy out for a stroll with black umbrella in hand. This sweet gentlewoman wears a red and white polka dot kerchief on her head covering most of her gray hair and has embroidered facial features – characteristic of these WPA dolls. Also characteristic of this type of doll is a small square of asphalt shingle glued to the feet to serve as a stand. This doll has (not uncommonly) lost her asphalt shingle long ago, but a bit of the original shingle is still attached to the soles of both shoes. Clothing, with the exception of her neutral-striped knit-fabric sweater, is machine-sewn cotton with careful detailing right down to the red hankie poking out of her apron pocket. She also wears gold hoop earrings! Her body, which is well-stuffed to be anatomically correct, is black cotton fabric stuffed with cotton batting.
The white haired and bearded male country gentleman doll is similarly attired in machine-sewn cotton britches with a patch at the knee and suspenders along with a tan cotton striped shirt and red kerchief around his neck. His hat is constructed of cranberry-colored felt. Under his right arm, he holds a nicely crafted chicken that has sustained a tiny bit of fabric loss to its face. His left arm once held a wooden walking stick which is long gone, but alternatively, he now uses his free hand to hold the arm of his lovely lady! His asphalt shingle is also missing with remnants evident of it present on the soles of his shoes.
Two very special dolls that represent a snapshot of history, capturing the lives of poor southern black folk of the Depression era.
The dolls are priced at $245.00 each. AS these two dolls were originally purchased out of a lovely and quite comprehensive doll collection as a PAIR, if desired, they may also be purchased as a PAIR at a very special discounted price of $395.
Measuring 4 inches wide x 3 3/4 inches high, the black color-toned set was manufactured by A.D. Handy, Stereopticon & Supplies, Boston.
The four slides tell the story, through drawings and southern black dialogue, of a black boy attempting to steal a watermelon (slide 1). Four other black boys hiding behind a fence and watching, spook him, making the boy think there is a ghost behind him (slide 2)! Dropping the watermelon in fright, he dashes off for safety (slide 3). The shattered watermelon is then left on the ground, already broken into bite-sized pieces for the 4 other boys to enjoy!
This offering is truly an exceptionally scarce Black Americana collectible!!
The sign with its flat black background, features a decorative free-hand, skill-fully executed, corner-looped edge design in old white paint advertising: SLEEPING ROOM FOR RENT.
Beneath the words 'FOR RENT', the words "WHITE ONLY" have been covered over with a layer of similar-colored background paint. Both words are still visible beneath this layer of paint with the word "WHITE" being most readily visualized.
I believe that this "paint-over" can be easily, professionally removed, and I toyed with the idea of having this done, but then felt that I should offer the sign as it is in its current state, as it is reflective of a small yet positive progression in history, in the viewpoint of at least this proprietor in our society in this time period. What prompted this change of viewpoint, which obviously occurred decades before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is forever lost to history. The place of origin of this sign is unknown.
The sign is hand-painted on Masonite, a smooth-faced, compressed wood hardboard that was invented in the 1920s and was in popular use during the Depression-ridden 1930s due to its relatively inexpensive price tag. The sign has nine holes to facilitate hanging: three on each end and three down the center of the sign. The sign retains an original surface patina with age-related crackling to the lettering. In addition to the words "White Only" being painted over, a decorative flourish centered between the words "Sleeping Room" and "For Rent" has also been painted over, reason unknown. Mild surface paint loss, scuff-marks, and edge wear are present, commensurate with a 90+year old sign.
An exquisite example of Segregation Era signage that tells a story of prejudice evolving to an acceptance of equality.
Painted in 1934, the framed piece measures 20" x 26.5"; the watercolor, 13” x 19.5 “. Completed in various subtle tones of blue, gray, green, and brown. The watercolor was reframed in 1987 by the previous owner.
This fine, walnut, twenty-five compartment case houses twenty three medicine bottles, most of which are embossed FRASER & CO, with a few marked FRASER. A total of seventeen of the bottles sport original, early labels. Three other bottles have hand-written labels, and the remainder are unlabeled- one of which has no embossing. There are a total of six amber bottles, two of which are corked and without labels, while four are complete, inclusive of paper labels. Some of the bottles are partially filled with tablets. Please see photos to view the various medicine labels, one of which is OPIUM.
The walnut cabinet measures 11" W x 10.5" D x 6.25" H, and is in nice condition with a split on the front top that can be restored if desired. The finish has a lovely, warm patina, and the brass escutcheon bears just the right amount of oxidation. A wonderful addition to any collection!
It features a vintage, EARLY HOLOGRAM IMAGE, a “moving” Court Jester or Clown, who in a gallant sweeping motion, removes his broad-rimmed hat and takes a grand bow. (Tilt pin slightly to make Jester move.)
Colors: bright, buttery yellow background, jester in dark fuchsia, green and white, and lettering and metal pin back frame in red.
Condition: quite nice for its 60 years of age with light, expected wear to red paint at rim edges and back. NOTE: The piece of tape shown in pics is not part of the pin or attached to it, but was used to prop the piece up to display the moving images.
The black-painted, metal frame houses a plastic, cream-colored insert that features an embossed lettering and design technique that advertises the name of the product for sale. The background of this insert sports a streamlined, horizontal, raised "striping" reminiscent of the Art Deco era. When light is allowed to pass through the plastic, translucent insert, the insert appears to be magically illuminated so that the green-colored backside of the sign shines through with brilliance. This effect can be enjoyed by either hanging the sign in front of a window or by fastening tiny LED lights (not included) on the backside of the frame.
The dimensions are approximately 36"L x 5.5"W x 3/4"D, and the overall condition of the sign is very good. The plain metal frame has been repainted in a durable, semi-gloss, black finish. The painted finish is in very good condition with areas of minor surface imperfection and slight areas of roughness here and there.
The vintage plastic insert is laminated in two tones, with the front noting a rich, aged, cream color, and the back noting a rich green tone. The front of the insert has faint surface imperfections and some areas of uneven discoloring. Overall, the insert retains a rich, glossed surface patina commensurate with its age.
A note: the first photo best represents what the sign will look like when illuminated from the back with LED or natural window lighting.
The final photo is a shot of this sign along with three others of the same vintage and manufacture.
A treasure of early signage designed in the Art Nouveau style, this sign measures 46 inches long by 7 inches wide. The sign weighs at least 25 pounds and sports cast detailing seldom found!
The sign features a delightful and mellow patina with an old painted surface retaining traces of old blue coloring beneath the exterior battleship gray tones. Scattered areas of unobtrusive surface rust add to the wonderful appeal of this vintage sign.
Visually appealing and artfully designed, this vintage piece of signage would make an interesting addition to one's Medical Memorabilia Collection!
This handsome display measures 9"L x 4.25"W x 2"H and sports 23 of the original 24 tablet boxes. Each 3 inch box contains a perfectly-labeled, cork-topped bottle with the original insert.
The condition of the display box is fairly good with some honorable wear and scuffs, with loss of the top cover, all commensurate with an antique medicine. One of the medicine boxes has a small 1/3 inch of ancient, but unobtrusive debris stuck on it. Several boxes show a few tiny stains worth noting. One box has been opened and has one loose flap.
A wonderful, all-original find!
The blown-glass globe is in very good condition with the expected and minor, age-related scratches and imperfections of antique glass. There are no cracks, and the globe holds water just fine!
The lovely and decorative, iron supporting frame sports an early, gold-painted finish which is quite appealing. (The original, factory-manufactured finish was completed in brass plate.) The interior of the globe's metal crown has minimal, superficial rust as seen in the photo.
This globe displays quite nicely and is ready for exhibit in your collection!
This particular estate document is extraordinarily unique and atypical in comparison to other estate documents of this period as it lists 15 SLAVES among the articles of property, and it actually labels these individuals as SLAVES as opposed to the much more common and typical practice of listing "Slaves" as "Negroes". The slaves are listed on the back side of the document with all other inventory listed on the front side.
Each slave is listed by first name with the corresponding current market value written to the left of the name, with the total market value of the 15 slaves named at $8600-- quite a hefty sum when one considers that the remainder of the estate (furniture, livestock, transportation and work vehicles, tools, etc) is valued in total at $980.75. Also listed in the inventory was 13,000 pounds of seed cotton, indicating that Lewis Mattair owned a sizable cotton plantation, clearly farmed by the slaves.
Lewis Mattair is noted in the 1860 Federal Census as a resident of Suwanee County, Florida; the 1860 Federal Census- Slave Schedules references Lewis Mattair owning 28 male and female slaves, ranging in age from 4 to 58. Lewis Mattair is listed in the 1865 Florida Tax records, but his name does not appear in any archived state or federal records after that year. Thus, it is presumed that this document dates from or just prior to 1865, the year that the Civil War ended.
The Middle Passage Museum was the dream of Jim and Mary Anne Petty of Mississippi as well as that of an anonymous Georgian benefactor who had together compiled a collection of slave artifacts numbering over 15,000 pieces and who had hoped to find a permanent site in Mobile, Alabama, for their museum. While they formed a non-profit organization to raise funds for their hoped-for museum, their dream was never realized.
In a 2003 statement, Jim Petty remarked, "The importance of the exhibit of these artifacts is to understand the harshness of what slavery and segregation was all about. The items in the exhibit remind us of the terrible heinousness of slavery. Viewing the collection can be very emotional, but it is a tool through which we can understand, honor and respect a great culture. We want to realize that out of slavery, a great culture emerged, and carried on, and continued to strive for a better life regardless of the adverse conditions that were placed upon them."