Appealing to more than just black memorabilia collectors, the Ken Oden Collection of African American and African ephemera and photography saw world record prices realized in several categories when it was sold on August 24 and 25 at Jackson’s International.
The extensive collection drew more than 200 registered bidders from 13 countries and most regions of the United States. The collection of African American and African photography, postcards and ephemera that McKeesport, Penn., native Ken Oden, who was also in attendance at the sale, amassed was sold to the highest bidder in a unique specialty auction.
Sales of note include a Frederick Douglass ambrotype, circa 1870s. While only 4¼ by 3¼ inches in size, this rare beardless image sold for $24,000, finding a new home at the new African American Culture Wing at the Smithsonian.
Real photo sports postcards saw active bidding, with the first lot, two Homestead Grays real photo baseball postcards circa 1930s, selling for $3,120 to a New York buyer against a $600/900 estimate. Another sports lot featuring a US Army 24th Infantry Manila league baseball team, circa 1913, crossed the block at $6,600.
Considered to be some of the more controversial, although certainly historically important, cards offered, a group of seven real photo lynching cards exceeded $21,000. Also selling well was a pair of real photo postcards featuring convicts, which after some heated bidding brought $9,360.
Other real photo postcards also sold well, especially of those featuring baptismal scenes, cotton picking and shacks and shanties, with a group of three lots bringing $4,200. Another lot of four postcards featuring the Springfield race riots, circa 1908, and including a photo of the tree were Burton was hanged by a mob, brought $1,560.
Oden had accumulated an impressive grouping of cards including real photo cards featuring minstrels. One such lot with five cards from the early Twentieth Century with circus and side show scenes brought $1,320.
Another group that was well represented was real photo postcards by Ukrainian-born famed photographer Casimir Zagourski who settled in the Belgian Congo in 1924. Up until his death in 1944, Zagourski spent the years traveling around Africa photographing people, places and local traditions. A group of 20 lots of cards by Zagourski totaled more than $10,200. European postcard dealer Francis Greese, who had sold many of the Zagourski cards initially to Oden, was happy to see many “old friends” back up for auction when participating in the sale.
Besides cards featuring African real photo scenes, a grouping of cards featuring Caribbean scenes including Martinique, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Barbados, Antigua and Curacao, crossed the block at $2,040.
A nice grouping of Josephine Baker collectible items were offered, including a Folies Bergere ephemera grouping and a signed letter by the famed entertainer. The entire grouping brought nearly $15,000, and was spread among buyers from three different countries.
As the sale concluded, Oden’s entire collection was dispersed throughout the globe and into the hands of new owners. Oden said of the sale, “It was good to see a number of fellow enthusiasts and although I will certainly miss the hunt, it’s good to know that the cards will now be enjoyed by others.”
The next auction to be held at Jackson’s International is scheduled for October 26′7 and includes the Dr Brad LeMay collection of Russian imperial treasures, as well as Asian, European and American decorative works and fine art.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For additional information, www.jacksonsauction.com or 319-277-2256.