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Lot 187: CDV PHOTO OF FREED SLAVE “CONTRABAND” YOUNG MAN

American Heritage Auctions

October 16, 2021
Columbus, Ohio, OH, US

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Description

Beautiful condition full-standing carte-de-visite (CDV) view of a young African American man holding a book vertically against a table for balance. In the opposite hand the subject holds a most interesting item: what appears to be a high-grade Union officer's forage cap. A period notation below the albumen reads, "A Contraband from Newbern N.C." The Union Army was at times besieged with former slaves who sought refuge behind Yankee lines as troops moved around the South. In 1862, Union forces under Gen. Ambrose Burnside captured New Bern, and the town remained in Union hands for the remainder of the War. During the Civil War, “contraband” was a term used to describe escaped slaves that affiliated with Union forces. These “runaways” were primarily laborers initially, but many enlisted in United States Colored Troops regiments once recruiting began in 1863. Many “contraband” children were brought back to the North by Union officers where they could receive an education. This is likely what happened with the young man pictured. While the subject is currently unidentified, the carte itself is marked with a fairly obscure Roxbury, Massachusetts photographer; perhaps some triangulation of Union officers from the Roxbury area who served in New Bern long enough might lead to a positive identification. In any event, this image features both outstanding content and top condition. This is a fine addition to any high-end historic photography collection. [African-American Material, Black Americana, Daguerreotype, Ambrotype, Tintype, CDV, carte-de-visite, Albumen, Slavery, Slave, Abolition, Abolitionist, Emancipation, 13th Amendment]

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