This Frederick Douglass collage features an inscription and signature reading, “Very truly yours, Frederick Douglass 1880.” Under the inscription is the original Frederick Douglass stamp from its release date of February 14, 1967. Additionally, the collage includes a re-print of the Douglass portrait from the Brady-Handy Portrait Collection, Library of Congress circa 1865-1880.
Frederick Douglass, born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, is celebrated today as a renowned abolitionist. Born into slavery in 1818, Douglass’s mother was a slave and his father an unknown white man. He was raised mostly by his grandparents and aunt after his mother passed away until he was sent from Maryland to Baltimore. There he labored for a ship carpenter, Hugh Auld, who permitted Douglass to learn to read and write despite laws against slave literacy. Douglass attributed his later success to the seven years he spent in Baltimore. Eventually, he was then transported back to a farm in Maryland owned by a man notoriously called “slavebreaker” for his brutality against enslaved people. It was during these years that Douglass decided he would escape north. After an initial failed attempt, Douglass finally arrived in the free state of New York on September 3, 1838. From there, he traveled to a prosperous African American community in New Bedford, Massachusetts. In New Bedford, Douglass married, continued his learning, became affiliated with Henry Lloyd Garrison, and began speaking publicly against slavery. A natural orator, Douglass’s popularity grew quickly and he wrote several autobiographies, toured the United Kingdom, argued the Constitution as an anti-slavery document, met with multiple U.S. presidents, held political positions, advocated for women’s rights, and continued to push for African American equality after the Emancipation Proclamation. In his career, Douglass would famously say, “The soul that is within me, no man can degrade.”
Frederick Douglass was the first African American to be included in the everyday postal stamp collection as opposed to a particular celebration. The 25 cent stamp was released in 1967, one year before Douglass’s 150th birthday. The pink-hued stamp portrait was approved by Douglass’s descendants and released on February 14.
In addition to his famous abolitionist and political career, Frederick Douglass was also the most photographed man of the 19th century with 160 separate portraits. The newly invented daguerreotype had a huge effect on the common population, including Douglass who claimed “The humblest servant girl may now possess a picture of herself such as the wealth of kings could not purchase 50 years ago.” He saw photography as a powerful tool to show the realities of slavery and fight against the characterization of African Americans. Reportedly, Frederick Douglass never refused an opportunity to be photographed and spread his message.
The signature in this collage is in overall good condition considering its age. There is slight rippling, a horizontal crease, and the stamp is very lightly lifting at the bottom right corner. The signature and photograph are framed together according to conservation standards in a custom frame.
Framed dimensions: 33 ½” H x 20” W x 2 ½” D