Published: May 5, 2020
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Two months after Cowan’s February 20 auction offering part one from the collection of art dealer Steve Turner, the South Carolina State Museum has emerged as the buyer of an important piece of history found within that sale: a walking cane given to Frederick Douglass by the Douglass Light Infantry.
The review of that sale appeared on page 40 of our March 13, 2020 issue. It spoke of the cane as follows: “Rising well above its $5,000 estimate was American abolitionist Frederick Douglass’ walking stick that would sell for $37,500. The ebonized wood cane was topped with a gold-filled cap engraved ‘Hon. F. Douglass / From D.L.I. / Charleston S.C. / Mar. 6th / 1888.’ The cap featured a repoussé design of three wild strawberries with leaves and flowers against a hammered background. Cowan’s notes, ‘In early March 1888, Douglass arrived in Charleston, South Carolina where he delivered versions of his ‘Self-Made Men’ and ‘European Travels’ addresses at Mount Zion church… He was honored afterward by an African American militia unit calling themselves the Douglass Light Infantry. According to a contemporaneous newspaper account, the infantry members serenaded him at their armory. They also presented him with this walking stick…’ It sold to an institution.”
Said JoAnn Zeise, the cultural history curator for the museum, to the Associated Press, “The walking stick is a one-of-a-kind item and will help the museum tell South Carolina’s history for years to come.”
For a review of the rest of that auction, visit https://www.antiquesandthearts.com/african-american-photographs-light-up-part-i-of-turner-collection-at-cowans-2/.
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