The Art and History of Black Memorabilia

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9780609604250: The Art and History of Black Memorabilia
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Black memorabilia is one of the most provocative areas of collecting in America today, encompassing anything made by or depicting people of African descent. It includes a diverse range of objects and documents that span five centuries of African-American life, from trade cards to kitchen novelties; dolls and toys to sports and civil-rights mementos; cereal boxes and product labels to books and sheet music; and even the shackles, classified ads, and bills of sale that document the long years of black slavery.

Often harsh and painful to examine, these artifacts nonetheless offer an important window into American history. They have become highly valued collectibles, and especially so among African Americans.

The Art and History of Black Memorabilia, by Larry Vincent Buster, is the first fully illustrated overview of this remarkable area of Americana. With more than two hundred color photographs, this volume examines the most desirable black collectibles and places them within their historical and social contexts. The author, himself a noted collector, includes information on how to buy, display, and preserve black memorabilia and explains how to spot fakes and reproductions. Also included are explorations of some of the most well-known and influential African-American figures in popular culture.

At times horrifying yet sublime, insulting yet intriguing, humorous, heartbreaking, and inspiring, The Art and History of Black Memorabilia is a landmark chronicle of the black experience in America.

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Review:

The first definitive text on the subject, The Art and History of Black Memorabilia provides a sensitive rendering of a difficult topic and intelligently discusses a variety of interpretations for a large range of products and advertisements that relate to the experience of African Americans. Beginning with a brief timeline of specific events in African American history, author Larry Vincent Buster balances discussions of modern pop culture, politics, and the international slave trade from 1324 to 1995. Buster's preface makes it clear that his writing is both a labor of love and a scholarly document--he was willed a large collection of memorabilia from a friend, and his examination of this collection led him to write this book.

Each chapter details a particular type of relic, including accessories to the slave trade, printed entertainment posters and advertisements, dolls, bric-a-brac, and magazines, photos, and books related to more recent heroes like Martin Luther King Jr., Joe Louis, Malcolm X, and Madam C.J. Walker. Throughout the book, special sections are devoted to characters of particular importance, ranging from Little Black Sambo to Josephine Baker. In all cases, the text addresses the variety of emotions these collections inspire, as well as the practical details related to collecting: pricing, rarity, popularity, and specifics on how to spot fakes. Buster's words on Aunt Jemima express the multiple meanings behind the memorabilia as a whole: "Aunt Jemima and her clones have come out of the closet as collectibles, coveted by connoisseurs.... Others are mystified by her power to degrade, anger and offend." Certainly, collectors and historians alike have much to learn from Buster's work, and The Art and History of Black Memorabilia is sure to serve as both a conversation starter and reference guide for years to come. --Jill Lightner

From the Back Cover:

"For those who like to remember, and to have at hand some splendid mementos of what the past was like to African Americans, this is a treasure chest."
-- Ossie Davis, actor/civil rights activist

"This book is great, everything you ever wanted to know about black memorabilia but were too politically correct to ask."
-- Whoopi Goldberg, actor/collector
"I hope that the reader will take away from these pages a feel for the urgency and necessity of collecting black history. I hope that we all will seek to recover who we are and to use that restored memory to achieve even greater levels of success in the future."
-- Charles L. Blockson, curator, Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, Temple University

"Larry Vincent Buster's The Art and History of Black Memorabilia is a very necessary documentation of the history of the black experience in American history. People who have knowledge of their past find themselves in a healthier state mentally and physically. Larry has revived an era of history that should never be forgotten."
-- jeannette carson, publisher, Black Ethnic Collectibles magazine

"An invaluable resource for the novice as well as the experienced collector of black memorabilia! Larry Vincent Buster's passion provides a user-friendly reference and guide."
-- Halima Taha, author, Collecting African-American Art: Works on Paper and Canvas

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