Abraham Lincoln abolitionist collection sells 150% above estimate

The George T Downing collection of abolitionist correspondence has sold with excellent results in a New Jersey auction, which was held September 16.

Abraham Lincoln letter
As predicted, the collection soared past estimate in New Jersey

The collection contained a range of letters and documents from Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S Grant and other prominent civil rights activists, and provided fascinating insight into Downing's continued efforts against inequality.

George T Downing was a successful New York restaurant owner, born to an African-American family in 1819. Despite catering for some of the most influential politicians and aristocrats at his restaurant, he is best-known for his struggle for human rights and free speech in the US.

Downing was heavily involved with the Underground Railroad, a network of secret routes and safe houses that were used to smuggle black slaves from the south to the northern free states and Canada. He is known to have assisted in several such slave rescues before turning his attention to the education closer to home.

While attempting to integrate the public schools of Newport, Providence and Bristol, Rhode Island, he also helped form the Coloured National Labor Union in 1869. This came as a reaction to the National Labor Union's refusal to compromise with black workers. Downing also worked closely with Charles Sumner to ensure the passage of civil rights legislation, and continually championed the cause throughout his life.

The remarkable collection of his personal correspondence, which was sold with a vintage photograph of Abraham Lincoln, brought $20,000 - a 150% increase on its $8,000 high estimate.

Bidders will have the opportunity to own another Abraham Lincoln emancipation letter on October 3, when a fascinating example will sell as top lot at Heritage Auctions. This comes following the $2m sale of his Emancipation Proclamation in June.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has a truly unique piece of Abraham Lincoln memorabilia currently available - fragments of wallpaper from the bedroom of the only home he ever owned.

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