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African American History

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Blanche Bruce, The First Full-term African American U.S. Senator Signs a Deed

BLANCHE BRUCE, Document Signed. Land deed. Washington, D.C. October 2, 1890. Signature panel 8¼ x 3½ in., overall dimensions 8¼ x 14 in.

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Blanche Bruce was the first full-term African American to serve in the U.S. Senate, 1875-1881. He was then appointed by President James Garfield as Register of the U.S. Treasury in 1881. He later served as the Washington, D.C. Recorder of Deeds (a position earlier held by Frederick Douglass), 1890-1893 and again as Register of the Treasury from 1897 until his death in 1898.

Item #22945.19, $125

Illustrations of African Americans Freeing Themselves
by Moving Toward Union Lines

[EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION], Newspaper. Harper’s Weekly, February 21, 1863. 16 pp., complete, disbound.

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General Tom Thumb and his bride grace the front page, but “The Effects of the Proclamation—Freed Negroes Coming Into Our Lines at Newbern, North Carolina” is the most significant illustration, occupying all of the fourth page. Also, “Departure of the Great Southern Expedition from Beaufort, North Carolina”; The Rebel Rams Engaging Our Blockading Fleet Off Charleston, South Carolina”; “Hearts and Hands, St. Valentine’s Day, 1863” is the romantic centerfold; “Ft.  Hindman, Arkansas”; “Iron Clad ‘Montauk’ Engaging the Rebel Fort M’Allister in the Ogeechee River.”

Item #H 2-21-1863, $150

‘Rally round the Flag, Boys!’ President Lincoln Centerfold

[ABRAHAM LINCOLN], Newspaper. Harper’s Weekly, October 1, 1864. 16 pp., complete, disbound.

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This October, 1864 issue of Harper’s Weekly has a magnificent centerfold engraving of President Lincoln—perfect for framing—with a patriotic poem below.

Item #H 10-1-1864, $225

The Emancipation Proclamation

[EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION], Newspaper. Harper’s Weekly, January 17, 1863. 16 pp., complete, disbound.

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Two black teamsters duel on the front page; the text of the Emancipation Proclamation is printed on page 2; the execution of 38 Indian murderers at Mankato, Minnesota on page 4, Thomas Nast centerfold: “The War in the West, the War in the Border States.”

Also, illustrations: Winslow Homer, “A Shell in the Rebel Trenches”; a map of Mississippi; the “Reception of the Authorities of New Orleans by General Butler”; “General Bank’s Forces Landing at Baton Rouge, Louisiana”; “Brigadier General James Blunt”; “Brigadier General John M’Neil”; and a cartoon of a black man celebrating his emancipation by declaring himself no longer part of a farm’s livestock, but instead a man.

Item #H 1-17-1863, $250

The Civil Rights Act of 1963

[CIVIL RIGHTS], Printed Document, 1963. 11 pp. 5 ⅞ x 9 ⅛ in.

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Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives…

Item #20820, $275

Democratic Broadside Shows
the Limitations of Reconstruction

[RECONSTRUCTION; RACISM], Broadside. “Democratic National Union - No Negro Suffrage” [Ohio, 1866], 3” x 11”, 1 p.

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Typical of the populist racism characterizing Democratic Party politics immediately after the Civil War, this party ticket contains the names of local candidates for office, including Brevet Brigadier General Benjamin Lefevre. A native Ohioan, Lefevre served throughout the war, entering politics when peace was declared, but only after breaking an engagement with a Southern belle. He served as a congressman from Ohio throughout reconstruction.

Item #20537, $360

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper with United States Colored Troop (USCT) Images

[AFRICAN-AMERICAN SOLDIERS], Newspapers. Frank Leslie’s Illustrated, December 13, and December 20, 1862, 16 pp. each. (Two issues)

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Two war-dated newspapers showing African Americans in the Civil War:

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated, December 20, 1862: “The South Carolina Loyal Colored Regiment in Action,” including “Picking off Rebel Sharpshooters.”  And, “The Negro Drivers of the Baggage Train.”

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated, December 13, 1862: Contrabands looking on at “Camp at Stafford’s Store Virginia.”

Item #22483.01-.02, $375

Peter Cooper’s Letter to Lincoln Regarding Emancipation

PETER COOPER. [SLAVERY], Pamphlet. Letter of Peter Cooper, on Slave Emancipation, Loyal Publication Society, New York, 1862, 8pp., disbound.

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“It is a fact that the enslavement of human beings has so far infused its insidious poison into the very hearts of the Southern people, that they have come to believe and declare the evil of slavery to be a good, and to require the power of Government to be exerted to maintain, extend, and perpetuate an institution that enables thousands to sell their own children, to be enslaved, with all their posterity, into hopeless bondage....”

The founder of New York City’s Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art echoes the language and logic of the Emancipation Proclamation (as well as citing some Southern pro-slavery arguments to demonstrate their ridiculousness) in this open letter to President Lincoln. Cooper and the Cooper Union had long been advocates of abolition and both Lincoln and Frederick Douglass had famously lectured at the institution.

Item #23579, $400

“Free Pass... Constitutional Purifying Association”

[COPPERHEADS], Broadside, “A FREE PASS. Entitling the holder to the tender mercies of the CONSTITUTIONAL PURIFYING ASSOCIATION, Who will guarantee to cleanse every particle of Copperheadism from our nature - so you will be able to VOTE for an honest man without prejudice...” with several illustrations depicting “THE PURIFYING PROCESS.” [1864]. 6 x 9 in.

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Item #21986.03, $400

Blistering Border State Speech
against Wartime Confiscation of Slaves

[SLAVERY]. U.S. CONGRESS, Pamphlet. Speech of Hon. John S. Carlile, of Virginia, on the Bill to Confiscate the Property and Free the Slaves of Rebels; Delivered in the Senate …, March 11, 1862. Washington: Congressional Globe Office, 1862. 13 pp.

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Item #21856.02, $450

Woman’s Rights Leader Anna Howard Shaw
Writes About Frederick Douglass and his white wife Helen Pitts

[ANTI-SUFFRAGE; RACISM], Pamphlet. “Dr. Anna Howard Shaw and Frederick Douglass.” Ca. 1915, following publication of Anna Howard Shaw’s book, The Story of a Pioneer, using her words from the 1903 Suffrage Convention in New Orleans to argue against giving women the right to vote, while attacking the 15th Amendment. 3 pp. 9 x 12 in.

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Item #22491, $475

Frederick Douglass Signed Deed

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, Document Signed as Recorder of Deeds, Washington, D.C., 1881-1886. Approx. 3½ x 8½” folded.
Image shown is a sample. To request an image of the deed currently available please email us at info@sethkaller.com

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While Douglass’s letters are scarce, documents signed during his tenure as recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia can be had very reasonably.

Item #20409u, $495

Lincoln’s Compensated Emancipation Proposal

[ABRAHAM LINCOLN], Newspaper. Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia, Pa., March 7, 1862. 8 pp., 15½ x 20½ in. With “Message from the President...Resolved, That the United States ought to co-operate with any State which may adopt gradual abolition of slavery.” [Printing Lincoln’s March 5 message to Congress on page 1.]

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The United States is the only nation in history to end slavery through Civil War. Nations as diverse as Russia, the British Empire, France, Brazil, and others around the world ended their reliance on slave labor through legislative means that included some form of compensation to slave owners for their lost “assets.” Here, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports on the front page that Lincoln presented a special message to Congress with a plan to end slavery through compensation. There would be no takers among the slaveholding border states.

Item #30001.28, $500

Fisk University Co-Founder John Ogden Asks Merriam Publishers if the Gift of a Pictorial Dictionary Was Meant for Him or the University

JOHN OGDEN, Autograph Letter Signed, to George and Charles Merriam. Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 18, 1869. 1 p., 8½ x 5¼ in. On Fisk University letterhead.

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In this brief note, Ogden thanks the famous Springfield, Massachusetts dictionary publishers the Merriams for a gift of a copy of their Pictorial Dictionary. Ogden references one “Mr. Gamble” as having stated that the volume was intended as a personal gift, but notes that the dictionary has “the name of our institution inscribed upon, or rather in it, from which I infer you intended it for the institution.” He then asks the Merriams to “decide the quarrel.”

Item #24172.01-.02, $550

Swedish immigrant uses racist “Pickaninny” imagery on a hand-painted envelope

[AFRICAN AMERICAN]. GUSTAF NORDSTROM, Handmade Postal Cover, to Frederick Nordstrom, February [25], 1902, Brooklyn, New York. 1 p., 11½ x 5 in.

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Swedish sign painter in New York uses racial stereotypes on envelope to tell his brother in Florida that he misses him.

Item #25043, $650

Charles Sumner Calls for a Zone of Freedom to Contain and Transform the Slave States

CHARLES SUMNER, Autograph Quotation Signed, from a speech given at the Cooper Institute in New York City on July 11, 1860, “The Republican Party; Its Origin, Necessity and Permanence.” Boston, July 25, 1860. 1 p., 5 x 8 in.

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Item #24704, $750

The Success of Black Troops At Petersburg, Virginia, Under Butler

[CIVIL WAR], Broadside. New England Loyal Publication Society No. 200. Boston, Mass., June 27, 1864. 1 p., 9 x 10¾ in.

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“They grinned and pushed on, and with a yell that told the southern chivalry their doom, [they] rolled irresistibly over and into the work.”

Item #23626, $750

Charles Sumner Writes to
a Quaker Peace Advocate and Abolitionist

CHARLES SUMNER (1811-74), Autograph Letter Signed. Boston, October 27, 1861. To Joshua P. Blanchard, 1 p.

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“My dear Sir, I always read you writings with interest & sympathy. We are both arriving at the same results; for we both hate Slavery & love Peace...”

Senator Sumner of Massachusetts was a leading abolitionist, intimate of Lincoln, and radical republican. Before the Civil War, he joined the ranks of abolitionism’s martyrs when he was savagely attacked on the floor of the Senate by Congressman Preston Brooks in consequence of remarks that Sumner made about Brooks’ relative, Senator Andrew Butler of South Carolina. Sumner never fully recovered.

Item #20532, $850

Frederick Douglass Signed Deed

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, Document Signed as recorder of deeds, Washington, D.C., 1881-1886. Approx. 3½ x 8½” folded. Sample Frame pictured.

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While Douglass’s letters are scarce, documents signed during his tenure as recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia can be had very reasonably.

Item #20409, $895

The Brutal Legal Reality of Slaves as Property

[SLAVE TRADE], Manuscript Document. Mortgage of Ephraim Butler to John E. Lewis, DeSoto Parish, Louisiana, April 12, 1855. 2 pp., with integral leaf with docketing on verso. 7¾ x 12½ in.

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Ephraim Butler...does by these presents specially mortgage, and hypothecate in favour of the said J E Lewis the following discribed and named slaves... Louisa a negro woman of dark complexion aged about twenty eight years, Stephen a Boy black complexion aged about nine years Cezar a boy also Black aged about five years Roze a girl aged two years…

Enslaved African Americans like Louisa, Stephen, Cezar, and Rose were property, lawfully bought, sold and used as collateral to secure loans. When planter Ephraim Butler became indebted to Dr. John E. Lewis for nearly $500, he gave the physician a promissory note secured with a mortgage on his slaves.

Item #24717, $950
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