Image Courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries
Ephemera and historical documents are bringing in record prices at auction right now. In this particular case, the following information was provided by Arielle Bremby at Swann:
The 20th Anniversary auction for our Printed & Manuscript African Americana department was a resounding success, led by pioneering illustrator E. Simms Campbell's original pen and brush illustration A Night-Club Map of Harlem, which sold for $100,000.
The original artwork for a map that was to appear as the centerfold of Volume 1, Number 1 of the 1932 Manhattan Magazine. The map appeared once again in Esquire, nine months later. Examples of both are quite scarce. Campbell (1906-1971) started drawing regularly for Esquire in 1933, and was the magazine's resident illustrator until the end of the 1950s, becoming famed for drawings that often featured pin-up women--his "Harem Girls"--and that had a satirical take on upper-crust culture. He was the creator of Esquire's mustached, bug-eyed mascot Esky and of the Cuties comic strip series, which went into national distribution and as well as book form. Crossing color lines, Campbell became the first African-American illustrator to be syndicated and whose work was featured regularly in national periodicals.
The "Night-Club Map" is both a guide and a who's who of the old Prohibition speakeasies and night-clubs that dotted the Harlem landscape in the 1920's and 1930's, many of them surviving well after Prohibition was repealed. The Savoy Ballroom, the Cotton Club, Gladys's Clam Bar and many others are shown, with little vignettes throughout of Harlem "characters," such as Jeff Blount of the Radium Club, or "Snake-hips" Earl Tucker, the "Reefer Man," the "Crab Man," and musicians like Cab Calloway, Don Redman, Gladys Bentley, and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. A copy of the original Manhattan Magazine centerfold sold for $16,800 (with premium) at Swann Galleries on 10 March 2011, lot 407.
(MUSIC.) CAMPBELL, E. SIMMS. A Night-Club Map of Harlem. Pen and brush, 19-1/4 x 30 inches, on Whatman Drawing Board (24-1/2 x 34-1/2 inches). Some smudges and a few pencil marks here and there to the wide blank margins, rubber-stamp "MANHATTAN" in the upper left margin. Pencil jottings on the reverse. Signed, in ink in the lower right corner of the map in a small box: "Engraved (sic) and copyrighted 1932 by E. Simms Campbell light wines and beer." New York, 1932