"ONE OF THE MOST RADICAL AND ENIGMATIC FIGURES IN 2OTH-CENTURY HISTORY": PHOTOGRAPH OF MARCUS GARVEY, BOLDLY SIGNED BY HIM
GARVEY, Marcus. Photograph signed. No place: circa 1920. Contemporary sepia-toned photograph (8 by 10-inches), inked signature. $18,500.
Photograph circa 1920 of Jamaican-American leader Marcus Garvey—"an important link between early 20th-century black leaders and modern spokesmen"—an exceptional photographic portrait signed by Garvey with his bold inked signature along the lower portion of the sepia-toned image.
Born in Jamaica in 1887, the descendant of "Jamaica's African ex-slaves who successfully defied the slave regime," Garvey arrived in New York in 1916 (Martin, Race First, 4). There Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association and his campaign for African American rights became "world-wide in scope and his organization had members scattered from Africa to California… Garvey was part of the American scene for only a decade, but he influenced the life and thinking of his people during that decade as few men have in a whole lifetime" (Cronon, Black Moses, 4). "A gifted writer (using his weekly newspaper the Negro World as his mouthpiece) and a spellbinding orator… Garvey was a harbinger of later black nationalist leaders such as Malcolm X… [and] served as an important link between early 20th-century black leaders and modern spokesmen" (Gates, ed. Harlem Renaissance Lives, 215).
Near the time of this photograph, J. Edgar Hoover already "considered Marcus Garvey to be one of the most dangerous black men in America" (Grant, Negro with a Hat, 2). Influenced by Booker T. Washington, in 1919 Garvey founded the Black Star Line. Financed with a large stock sale, it was soon plagued with chaotic mismanagement. This led to an indictment "for using the mails fraudulently to solicit stock for the defunct steamship line," and Garvey was sentenced to prison in 1923 (Gates, 16). When his sentence was commuted with deportation, he left the United States in 1927, never to return. Garvey died in London in 1940. "In 1964, Edward Seaga (a future Prime Minister of Jamaica) arranged for Garvey's remains to be returned for a state funeral and for the visionary, the man they called the Black Moses, to be honored as Jamaica's first national hero and one of the most radical and enigmatic figures in 20th-century history" (Grant, 2-3). Photograph verso with trace of removal from gray cardboard leaf: the latter affixed with early partial paper slips containing matting instructions, none affecting photograph. Cardboard leaf verso with lightly penciled "Marcus Garvey" and numerical notations. Accompanying is a book: Rogers. J.A."World's Great Men of Color," illustrated with image of the same photograph (p. 416).
A fine signed photographic portrait of a pivotal figure in American and world history. Extraordinarily rare; we are aware of only one other signed Garvey photograph appearing on the market, and that one was only inititalled.