Published on February 10th, 2020 | by Dr. Jerry Doby


A Storied Collection of African American History Will Finally See the Light

The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana one of the world’s most important private collections of African American history. It will go on display in Chicago and online on February 20.

An exclusive African American collection comprised of over 300 lots will be available to the public on February 20, 2020. Steve Turner, a veteran collector and art gallery owner, has been studying African American history and migration for over 20 years. His lifelong collection, The Road West: The Steve Turner Collection of African Americana, includes priceless photographs, broadsides, rare books, manuscript collections, pin backs and more. This remarkable collection tells the history of African Americans, especially their role in settling the western frontier in 19th and early 20th century.

The subjects range from civil leaders to ordinary citizens to the black liberation movement of the 1960s and 70s. Especially noteworthy is an exceptional selection of early photography including the last known studio portrait of Harriet Tubman. This portrait is the largest and most detailed depiction of Harriet Tubman. There are only six known studio portraits of the American hero and this collection holds one of them. Other collection highlights include, an unpublished CDV of Frederick Douglass (Lot 2), CDVs of black Civil War soldiers (Lot 20 & Lot 21), and extraordinary images of Buffalo Soldiers (Lot 27 & Lot 28, Lot 30Lot 33, Lot 36 – Lot 39, Lot 41) of special note Lot 31 a cabinet card of a Buffalo Soldier wearing a buffalo coat. All of this in addition to exceedingly scarce and difficult to obtain images of African Americans in the frontier west.

Other highlights include Frederick Douglass’ Walking Stick (Lot 4), gifted to him in 1888 and a phenomenal painting Mitchell’s Point, Looking Down the Columbia River by pioneering African American Artist Grafton Tyler Brown. This is the only one of it’s kind.

“I have been a collector of things since I was very young,” Steve said when asked about his collection, “Stamps and baseball cards were first—that led to other collecting interests which led to collecting art when I was in my twenties.”

Ivy League Universities, like Yale, have asked for pieces of Steve’s collection—and after some time and consideration, he decided that everyone should have access to this remarkable collection.

“[This collection] was a natural consequence because it enabled me to devote my life to something that greatly inspired me” Steve said, “the pursuit of the great object.”

About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, Media and SEO Consultant, Journalist, Ph.D. and retired combat vet. 2023 recipient of The President's Lifetime Achievement Award. Partner at THM Media Group. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, the United States Press Agency and ForbesBLK.

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