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Lot Number: 217
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Estimate Range: $1,800 - $2,000
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1838 “Am I Not A Woman And A Sister” Anti-Slavery Type

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1838-Dated, Anti-Slavery Hard Times Token, “Am I Not A Woman And A Sister” Copper, Rulau 81, HT-81, Low-54, W-11-720a, About Uncirculated.

This sharply dated “1838” historic Black History Anti-Slavery Token measures about 1” in diameter (23.3 mm). Its design is styled after Josiah Wedgewood’s very popular “Am I Not a Man and a Brother” Anti-Slavery theme plaque, being a design which also appeared on some British tokens issued around 1795. This important Black History related token sought to bring attention to the plight of Slaves. In this instance focused particularly on the Black Women who were being held in bondage in many of the American Southern States.

The Obverse displays a Black Woman Slave who is down upon one knee, her arms shackled, and is pleading for humanity. The reverse has “Liberty 1838” within a wreath at center with the words: “United States Of America” surrounding. The sharpness of the hair detail, chain shackles and 1838 date provide exceptional eye appeal. Well centered, some faint hairlines seen possibly lightly cleaned long ago, the surfaces appearing near full lustrous red and far sharper in detail than most Anti-Slavery Hard Times tokens. This example has virtual fully struck sharp “wire” outer rims. Its red luster is brighter at the peripheries and even over the rest of its surfaces both face and back.
Thousands of Josiah Wedgwood’s ‘Am I Not a Man and a Brother’ Jasperware Cameos were incorporated into brooches, bracelets, earrings and hair ornaments, allowing the wearer to indicate sympathy with the Abolitionist cause. The ‘kneeling slave’ image was also rendered on a variety of other artefacts and was considered a very suitable subject for young girls to embroider on their samplers.

Only three years after the Anti-Slavery Society had agreed to change its agenda, the 1833 Anti-Slavery Act abolished Slavery within the British colonies. Although a period of apprenticeship was imposed on former Slaves before they could obtain freedom, a determined effort by the Abolitionists led, in 1838, to the early termination of this system.

A national Women’s Petition on behalf of the apprentices addressed to the newly crowned Queen Victoria had carried the signatures of 7,000,000 women, a number described as ‘unprecedented in the annals of petitioning’.

‘Am I not a woman and a sister’ reads the legend arching over the female figure of Justice as she reaches towards a kneeling black slave woman, who holds her chained hands up in supplication. In the 1830s this powerful emblem was used on printed matter and on artifacts associated with women-only, or ‘ladies’, Anti-Slavery associations. It very consciously echoed the motto, ‘Am I Not a Man and a Brother’, adopted in 1787 by the founders of the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade.
Lot Number: 217
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Estimate Range: $1,800 - $2,000
Early American • P.O. Box 3507 • Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
Phone: 858 • 759 • 3290 or Fax: 858 • 759 • 1439