Antiques Roadshow: Savannah
Slave quilt, ca. 1830, appraised by Nancy Druckman, of Sotheby’s, in New York City.
Danny from Walterboro, SC, brought in a beautiful quilt with some extraordinary provenance. He told appraiser Nancy Druckman that he bought the quilt eight years ago, along with several other artifacts, at an auction in Arkansas. Crafted by Southern slaves sometime in the 1840s or 1850s, the quilt bears an African motif in red, white and blue, which Danny said represents divine protection. The quilt hails from the estate of a Mr. Polk, a slave owner who died in the spring of 1864, and when Danny bought the quilt, he also acquired inventory paperwork from Mr. Polk’s estate that corroborates the quilt’s origin. “The history of ownership is key to the value of antiques, and what makes this so sensational, beyond what it looks like and what it represents, is the fact that there is period documentation that comes along with it,” Ms.;. Druckman said. She also pointed out that in the last several years Danny’s quilt has been featured in some major exhibitions, including one at the Smithsonian Institution and on at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. An image of the vibrant quilt is featured on the cover of Jubilee: The Emergence of African-American Culture, a collection of essays on African-American history and culture published by the Schomburg Center in 2003. Referring to the accompanying documentation, Ms. Druckman said “It’s rare to find all these things coming together in this way.” She called the quilt “a remarkable survivor,” estimating the value of Danny’s historic quilt at $40,000 to $60,000.