Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information


Nearly 250 lots – ranging from artworks to slave leg shackles to cast-iron banks – are being sold.

(NORTHBROOK, Ill.) – Nearly 250 lots of Black Americana items, timed to coincide with Black History Month, are being sold in an Internet-only auction that is currently online and will end Friday, Feb. 24. The auction is being conducted by UniversalLive, a firm that holds a host of themed online sales each month, often more than one a week, at

The Black History Month auction is featuring artwork (by noted artists such as Romare Bearden, LeRoy Neiman, Mary Ann Rose, Peter Mars, Nathaniel Barnes and Essud Fungcap), plus a wide range of Black Americana objects, including 19th century pipes depicting black faces, authentic iron slave leg shackles (est. $200-$300), 1960s-era concert posters and sports items.

Romare Bearden: Artist-signed serigraph (34/120) of the Romare Bearden work Two Women (est. $2,850-$4,380).

The men and women depicted in the many artworks are iconic Black American figures that cross multi-generational lines. They include basketball great Michael Jordan, boxing legend Muhmmad Ali, political figures Barack Obama and Carol Moseley Braun and musical giants like Billie Holiday, Nat “King” Cole, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and others.

The sale’s expected top lot is an original portrait on canvas of a scene from the movie The King and I, by William Chambers (est. $20,000-$35,000). The oval image, titled We Kiss in a Shadow, originally appeared on a well-known collector plate distributed by The Bradford Exchange. It was the fourth in a series and had been held in Mr. Chambers’s private collection.

Currently generating a good amount of online hit activity are a Civil War-era photo of black soldiers at Camp Brightwood, D.C. (est. $50-$75); a print of an original work by the black artist Archibald Motley titled Casey & Mae in the Street (est. $50-$80); and a signed letter and autograph photo of the renowned 19th century black figure Frederick Douglass (est. $100-$150).

LeRoy Neiman is one of America’s most famous contemporary sports artists, and this auction features numerous signed limited-edition prints. One, titled Muhammad Ali – Athlete of the Century, is double-signed, by Ali and Neiman (est. $7,500-$8,000). Another is a serigraph of Michael Jordan, shown surrounded by players from the Orlando Magic (est. $11,900-$14,375).

Speaking of Michael Jordan, three mixed media serigraphs depicting Jordan and signed by him and the artist, Carlo Beninati, carry pre-sale estimates of $4,000-$6,500. They are titled Free Throw, Next Point and Last Victory Dance. Also, a giclee of Jordan, signed by Stephen Holland (est. $5,900-$7,375), plus another of Kobe Bryant (est. $7,500-$9,375) are being sold.

Romare Bearden (1911-1988) is considered one of the most important African-American artists of the 20th century. His collages of photos and painted paper on canvas depict aspects of American black culture in a Cubist style. Signed, limited-edition serigraphs by Bearden in the auction include Sorcerer’s Village (est. $3,750-$5,770) and Two Women (est. $2,850-$4,380).

Antique cast-iron banks are enormously popular with collectors, and examples showing black figures have double the appeal. The auction features a Dinah mechanical bank, where the user places a coin in her hand, presses the lever on her back and her eyes roll and her hand moves to her mouth; and a 7 ½ inch tall Mammy still bank. Both should realize $250-$375.

Pipes fashioned in the 19th century, depicting black faces (some of them even made by black Americans) are also coveted by collectors. The auction boasts many examples, including an exceptional carved walnut pipe of a black alligator trainer about to leap into a swamp and straddled to a huge alligator, crafted by a black American in South Carolina (est. $1,725-$2,500).

Other pipes include an early clay pipe depicting the head of a Southern slave (circa 1840-1860), unearthed at a tavern site in South Carolina, probably cast and given to a bidder when slaves were sold in the Charleston area (est. $400-$600), a detailed African-American clay pipe, 4 inches long (est. $150-$225), and a hand-carved wooden slave pipe (est. $370-$555).

Prints of concert posters from the 1960s carry pre-sale estimates of $50-$80 each. These include Aretha Franklin at Philharmonic Hall in New York City in Oct. 1968 (and featuring the Sweet Inspirations with Cissy Houston, Whitney’s mother), James Brown in Nov. 1963, a week before the Kennedy assassination, and Stevie Wonder for a 1969 concert appearance in England.

Returning to artwork, multiple works by emerging and established artists are being sold. Examples include a half-dozen works by Mary Ann Rose (all est. $3,920-$6,030), two original mixed media works depicting Muhammad Ali by Peter Mars (est. $7,900-$9,880, $1,900-$2,925), and works by artist Nathaniel Barnes, two of them expected to sell for $3,500-$5,380.

Other items of Black Memorabilia include an engraved whale’s tooth depicting the wharf at New Bedford, Mass., and a slave (est. $250-$375); a cast-iron black boy eating a watermelon (est. $150-$225); an original seat from Chicago Stadium (est. $600-$925); and a 1992 political button showing Bill Clinton and the black Senate candidate Carol Moseley Braun (est. $40-$60).

UniversalLive, founded in 1995, is based in Northbrook, Ill. The firm has conducted thousands of Internet-based auctions through various venues. Online bidding for the Black History Month auction is being facilitated by and The firm attributes a good measure of its success to proprietary software, which is easy to use and track.

UniversalLive specializes in collectibles, militaria, sports memorabilia, fine art, coins, jewelry and other items. The firm is always accepting quality consignments for future auctions. To consign a single item, a collection or an entire estate, you may call them at (847) 412-9900; or, you can e-mail them at [email protected]. All e-mailed inquiries are answered promptly.

To learn more about UniversalLive, or to participate in the Black History Month auction currently underway, please log on to Updates are posted frequently.

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