Return to Results

Black Entertainers, Blackness as Entertainment: 1829-1907

Collected over a period of 40 years and retained as a collection by an individual who found each item significant in its own right and more profound as a collection.

Institutional sale only - to be contextualized for educational purposes.

United States: 1829-19074.19. A gathering of twenty-three (23) items promoting performances by and/or exploiting Black entertainers spanning the years 1829 and 1907. Most of the items are sheet music, with one printed flyer and one illustrated printed flyer. White people in black face and Minstrelsy are well represented, as well as at least a couple of examples that promote actual Black entertainers. It is unclear how much agency these performers had in shaping their careers. A stark visual reminder of the ubiquity of racist stereotypes in entertainment throughout American history. The items include (in chronological order):

"The Coal Black Rose, The Words written by White Snyder and Sung with unbounded applause by Mr. W. Kelley. Arranged for Piano & Guitar". Two leaves of engraved sheet music (11.25" by 8.25"), printed on rectos only. Complete. Engraving of black man in a rose on first leaf, black man playing banjo on the second; both stereotypical depictions. Philadelphia: Published for the Author, 1829. Plate mark visible. Some light foxing.

"Jim Along Josey". New York: Firth and Hall, 1840. Sheet music (12.75" by 9"), first leaf only, with title and caricature of Black entertainer on recto and music staves on verso. Ink stamp of G. Williams to recto. Toned.

"Massa Vite & Sally Snowball ... Sung by Mr. T.D. Rice, & Mr. W. West at the Surrey & Victoria Theatres". London: W.J. Horn, 1840s. Engraved title page only (13.5" by 10"), with engraved depiction of stereotypical performer on recto and beginning of music staves on verso. Toned. Tape repair.

"The Original Mary Blane, A Popular N***er Melody, sung with Universal Applause by all the Ethiopian Singers ... by H. Delma". London: Duncombe & Moon, 1840s. Engraved sheet music (13.25" by 9.25"), first leaf only and lacking rest of music. Features title and illustration of five Black performers with their instruments on recto, with beginning of music on verso. Plate mark visible. Light toning, tape repair.

Printed poster advertising prize dancing contest between "Champions of the World" Hank Mason and Mickey Warren at the Boston Melodeon. Depicts both men in wood engraved images. Boston: Forrest, 1859. Measures 18.75" by 6". Toned, some short tears, one tape repair to lower right-hand side. Verso blank.

"Dixiesland Polka". London, 1880s. Chromolithographed title-page (13.25" by 10") for sheet music (lacking). Depicts stereotypical Black people dancing in center of green oval.

"Susanna, Don't You Cry! Negro Melody sung by the Christy Minstrels". Authorised Edition. New York: C. Holt, 1880s. Sheet music (13.25" by 9.5"), first leaf only, with illustrated title on recto and staves on verso. Lithographic depiction of a stereotypical rendering of a black couple on recto. Lacking subsequent leaves.

"Thearle's Original Nashville Students Give a Portion of Concert in Plantation Costumes". [Aquatint?] poster depicting eight Black entertainers in "Plantation Costume" in front of a steam boat traveling down a river. Chicago: Goes & Quinsel, c1884. Measures 7" by 10.25". Toned, water stain and tape remnants to verso.

"Hie Away Ole Satan. Words and Music by M.H. Rosenfeld". Boston: White, Smith & Company, c1885. Engraved sheet music (13.25" by 10"), pp. 6, with lithographic title-page, depicting in caricature a Black woman protecting baby from a contemporary politician(?) stylized as the devil. Lightly toned. Dedicated to "Mr. J.H. Sayers of Thatcher Primrose & Wests Minstrels."

"Happy Darkies Barn Dance by Arthur E. Godfrey". London: Robert Cocks & Co., 1892. Sheet music (13.5" by 9.5"), pp. 8, with chromolithographed title-page on front depicting stereotypical group of Black people dancing in a barn. Toned. Tape to right-hand margin, spine chipped.

"Ambrolena Snow: An Afro-American Military Ballad by Bodine and Maywood". Chicago: S. Brainard's Sons Co, 1897. Sheet music (13.75" by 10.25"), pp. 4, with chromolithographed title-page on first leaf recto depicting caricature of a Black woman in upper-class dress. Ink ownership inscription of Lillian Farley to first leaf recto. Toned.

"Draw That Color Line: A Decision of Color. By Ben Harney." New York: F.A. Mills, 1897. Sheet music (14" by 10.75", pp. 6, first and last pages printed in red. Stylistic typography on front in lieu of illustration. Lightly toned; tape repairs. Ink stamps.

"The Hypnotized Coon. Words & Music by Lew Sully". New York: Howley, Haviland, & Co., 1897. Sheet music (14" by 10.75"), pp. 5, [1], title-page on front printed in red and green. Lightly toned, short tears, tape repairs.

"N***er, N***er, never die, A Coon Simplicity with Primrose and Wests Minstrels..." Supplement to the San Francisco Examiner March 15, 1898. A sheet music bifolium (14" by 10.75") promoting a black face minstrelsy duo. Color illustration of black face minstrel with white gloves and tambourine on front, with caricatures of black faces on a music stave above. Toned, some short tears.

"Cunnin' Carolina Coon. By Warner Crosby and Matthew Woodward". Chicago: Sol Bloom, 1900. Sheet music (14" by 10.5"), pp. 8 including illustrated wrappers, front with stereotypical depiction of a Black Southern family and photograph of Lew Dockstader in black face. Ink stamp of Al Bernard to second leaf. Tape repair to spine.

"Baby You's the Swellest Gal". Words and Music by Chas. W. Kremer. New York: M. Witmark & Sons, [1901]. Illustrated sheet music bifolium (13.5" by 10"). Front depicts two black lovers in caricature, and photo of the Watterman Sisters. Advertises "Coon Ballads" on back. Tape repairs.

"Coon Coon Coon. Words by Gene Jefferson Music by Leo Friedman. Introduced and Sung by Lew Dockstader". Chicago: Sol-Bloom, 1901. Lithographed sheet music (14" by 10.5"), pp. 8, including illustrated wrappers; depicting of three caricatures of Black minstrels on front with photograph of minstrel "Will Strong". Toned, tape repair to spine, leaves loose.

"My Girl from Tennessee. Words by Andrew B. Sterling, Music by Lee Orean Smith". New York: Vandersloot Music Co., 1902. Sheet music (14" by 10.75"), pp. 6, including illustrated wrappers depicting Black woman with Black Cupid on her shoulder, and a photograph of Florence Courtney and Mamie Dunn. Lightly toned; chipped.

"Let Me In, Dat's All: A Darkey's Lamentation. By Felix F. Feist and Ted S. Barron". New York: Leo Feist, 1903. Sheet music (13.5" by 10.5"), pp. 6, including illustrated wrappers depicting caricature of Black man in rain trying to get his sweetheart to open the door. Toned, chipped.

"By the Watermelon Vine Lindy Lou. Words and Music by Thos. S. Allen". Boston: Walter Jacobs, 1904. Lithographed sheet music (13.75" by 10.75"), pp. 6, including illustrated wrappers depicting young black couple sitting in a large watermelon slice. Ink ownership inscription of Mrs. J.A. Dunham to front. Light wear, short tears, paper repairs.

"A Crazy Coon Concoction. Dan Dan Danuel. Words & Music by Ed. Rogers." New York: F.B. Haviland, 1904. Lithographed sheet music (14" by 11"), pp. 6, including illustrated wrappers. Depiction of minstrel on front, with small photo of Madge Fox below. Some chips, tape repairs, one notable tear (upper right-hand corner).

"What You Goin' to Do When the Rent Comes' Round? Rufus Rastus Johnson Brown. Words by Andrew B. Sterling Music by Harry Von Tilzer". London: Harry Von Tilzer, 1905. Sheet music (14" by 10.5"), pp. 6, including illustrated wrappers depicting caricature of Black couple and photo of Tilzer and White performer Ethel Robinson. Short tear to left-hand margin. Toned.

"The Best I Get is Much Obliged to You. Song by Benjamin Hapgood Burt". New York: Jerome H. Remick & Co., 1907. Sheet music (13.75" by 11"), pp. 6, including illustrated wrappers depicting an over-laden Black porter. In the background, two White porters relax on a bench. Tape repairs to right-hand margin, spine. Very good.

Price: $15,000.00

Item #210007348