Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Black History Month 2009 is upon us! Also, Soviets.

February, my gentle gentle readers, is upon us in all its snow-laden glory. On the bright side, February is Black History Month! Most of this blog entry shall regale you with many amazing items of African-American historical value ... but not all of it. Why, you ask? Well, because this week's Affordable and Interesting item was supposed to be picked up by Doug when he went home to Indiana for the evening ... but then, a stunning amount of Indiana snowfall kept him in Chicago for the night.

So, before we continue on to Black history, dear readers, allow me to show you these Affordable and Interesting pins:

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The above pins were produced in the former Soviet Union between the late 1960s and the early 1990s -- they were badges for all manner of occupations, clubs, and organizations. Our regular Jon characterizes them as "bright, sprightly, and lots of fun" and reports that he gave one to his friend Olga, who translated its slogan as "Society to Fight for Sobriety". When she picked herself up from rolling around of the floor laughing, she added, "I need some more for my friends."

These pins are a bargain at $3.00 apiece; I'd consider buying the Stalin one myself, but I want to be able to take airplane flights.

Now let's move on, away from my hasty insertion of those pins and towards this week's Favorite:

Fisk University was one of the first African-American Universities -- established in 1867. It is now open to all races, but has historically served Black history very well -- one notable instance being the Fisk Jubilee Singers. The Singers started touring in 1871, and they did a lot to preserve African-American musical traditions and further the acceptance of those traditions in popular culture.

We have a number of 1910s-1920s Fisk University magazines here at the shop, showcasing various interesting historical angles:



The Fisk magazines vary in price from $20.00 to $25.00 -- or act now and you might be able to snag the 1916 Fisk Alumni Quarterly for only $10.00!

Last, but certainly not least, we arrive at this Collector's Item, which includes an amazing and touching story:

This, ladies and gentlemen, is a real live tintype of Mr. and Mrs. Watham, who were once enslaved in the southern United States. In the second half of the 1800s, the Wathams were freed, and they struck off to make their fortunes by participating enthusiastically in the Oklahoma Land Rush. These two Black pioneers established an Oklahoma homestead that served their families well until their descendants sold it off in the 1950s, at which point one trunk full of the Watham's heritage was saved.

That trunkful of history is now here, at O'Gara and Wilson! Its contents include -- but are not limited to -- two cotton bonnets, a blue polka-dotted parasol, a spyglass, two leather baby booties, a corncob pipe, a thimble, and two six-sided dice. We're selling this collection for $750.00, and we encourage all and sundry to come by and examine it before someone takes it home. All these objects come together to create a lovely picure of the lives of two pioneers of the American West. They're really fun to look through!

Black History Month seems like a particularly inspiring time right now, with our first Black president assuming power. (I know I've been mentioning that a lot lately, but cut me some slack, gentle readers -- I live in Obama's very neighborhood!) Let that inspiration warm you against the frigid February weather.

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