Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Black Americana

From emancipation until the civil rights movement images of african americans where used in advertising, toys, kitchenware and other common everday items, often in a derogatory or insulting stereotypical manner. Black Americana has been prized by collectors for a variety of reasons, some of which are questionable. The depiction of black americans should be sought after for two reasons and two reasons only. First, for its historical value as a reminder of how far we have come and the contributions of Afro Americans to society and tradition and second, for pure art value.

The Southern Cookbook is from the early 1960s and has several "cute" little poems using the N word. I was shocked when I saw the copyright date. This reminded me that that segregation still existed less than 50 years ago. In the late 1940s and 50s Japan produced countless items like the ones shown in the picture. There were toys and dolls, kitchenware and more. These items are still easily found compared to the rare iron banks and advertising from the turn of last century that commamd premium prices on the antique market. The post cards from that era are still common but extremely racist!

The sheet music that I found in a stack at a thrift store of Carry Me Back to Old Virginny dates to the early 1900s and was written by James E Bland an African American.

The two dolls, above left, are from my wifes collection. The rag doll on the left was made by hand by a black person, probably a little girl in the 1930s. The doll on the right is an import from Poland in the 1950's with a cloth body and composition face.

If you are interested in starting a collection of black americana the internet is a good place to start. It is very easy to search out. Also check garage and yard sales, flea markets and thrift stores. It can be an enjoyable area to pursue. There is so much variety. In a couple weeks I will display my wife collection of black dolls.

1 comment:

  1. I just came across one of my grandmothers old dolls dated back to the 40's or 50's a clothe doll with great sturdy stitching, possibly stuffed with sawdust. a painted face painted lips and I don't believe the eyes are painted she wears a handkerchief on her head and small hoop like earnings and a clothe necklace. Poland is written on her back leg. I am more interested in the history of this doll then I am selling it.
    My email is nicole_chapin@yahoo.com


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