1933 "Roll, Jordan, Roll” Book
Appraised Value: $15,000 - $20,000
IMAGE: 1 of 2
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GUEST: I found it in a bookcase after my husband's death, when I moved from Greenville, Mississippi, to Indianola, and the plate is of his father, William Teekman.
APPRAISER: Well, "Roll, Jordan, Roll" was a collaboration between the writer Julia Peterkin and the New York photographer Doris Ulmann. It is one of the treasures of photographic literature, and the images in the book are photogravure plates. Ulmann, the photographer, was known for her social documentary images. Peterkin was a South Carolina native known for her stories of Gullah and African-American plantation life, so they collaborated on this picture-text volume. And when we look at this image, we see that it renders the picture with extraordinary detail-- highlight, shadow. If I turn the page, we see the images have a plate mark at the bottom, which lets us know that they are photogravures. In addition to Peterkin's text, Mr. Wynn wrote some text. This one he identifies the Solaris Restaurant, the kitchen, where this photograph was taken and we see that these are all pictures of working people. He identifies this photo as "Sis, mother of Fugaboo." One of the things about these deluxe volumes, books that were done with rich hotogravures, is that they were done in a limited edition and that information appears at the back of the book where we see the number of copies, 350 copies, the signatures of both Peterkin and Ulmann and the number of this copy. Now, what's interesting about this is that the edition was never complete. They thought they were going to make 350 copies, but in fact, they never got around to fulfilling the edition.
GUEST: What about the last page of the letter?
APPRAISER: Okay. Well, if we turn the page, we see this typewritten letter that Mr. Wynn wrote in which he reports of this lovely meeting he had with Julia Peterkin and Doris Ulmann, so he knew the collaborators and obviously talked with them about the project and had a great interest in the work that they did. We have the book and we have this signed plate. This is Ulmann's signature at the bottom, and while the book alone would be quite a treasure, with the additional plate, we have the complete edition. The last time we sold this at auction, with the plate, it brought $20,000. So an estimate for the item in wonderful condition, with the gravures, the additional signed plate and the signatures of the collaborators would be $15,000 to $20,000. So it's a remarkable piece of photographic literature and I thank you for bringing it in.
GUEST: You're welcome.
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