Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Clearly there were at least two different designs for this original poster.

This one sold for $40,800 at Swann Auction Galleries, including premium.

Photo copyright Richard L. Copley


Robert said...

Good eye, Joey! I had never realized there were two different designs, but there were.

Joey said...

Yeah, I have wanted one of those for a long time, but it looks like there's no way I'll ever be able to afford one. It's interesting to read that there were supposedly 2 print runs of 500 each. Considering that number, you would think there would be a bit more of these (and other important civil rights era placards) found.

Check out this article on the sale: http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2010/feb/25/i-am-man-poster-memphis-strike-draws-five-figures-/?partner=RSS

Richard Saunders said...

Hmm. Not so sure the Wimmers, quoted in the cited ComAp article, are correct here. I have looked closely at most of Withers' contemporary photos (knew him, too) and cannot see but one style. I don't doubt the Wimmers printed A poster, but if they did it was not one used in the protest.

Note that the colour image shows a clear union mark at the bottom. None of the Withers images show a poster with such a mark. Organizer Fred Epps notes that the original posters were printed by the Clayborn Temple printshop, a private and non-union concern.

The other problem is the recent growth of commercial letterpress re-creations. Happens all the time with rock-and-roll posters for events that did not actually happen, and segregation "white only" signs. This placard an iconic, important, and easily reproduced item. At this price there are bound to be outright forgers and those who create facsimile items.

Joey said...

Yes, you bring up a really good point, especially with such an easily forged item as this....simple lettering, black on white, yet such an historic placard...it's ripe territory for a forger. I would think this would be an item where provenance would be of major importance.