A copy sold for a record $22,000 (£16,795) by Swann Galleries (25/20/12% buyers’ premium) in New York on March 28 was a reminder of an age when, for some, long-distance travel presented the extra challenge of finding welcoming garages, lodgings, even toilet facilities.
“Carry your Green Book with you… you may need it” runs a line across the foot of the cover of this relatively late, spring 1958 issue that, despite worn and detached covers and some dampstaining, sold for a far higher than expected sum as part of the Civil Rights section of an African Americana sale.
Underlined by a previous owner in this copy are entries for the YMCA in Manhattan, a hotel at Niagara Falls and, in a section focusing on the non-discriminatory policy of the national parks, has Yellowstone marked as a possible destination.
For some, long-distance travel presented the challenge of finding welcoming garages, lodgings, even toilet facilities
Launched in 1936 by a New York mailman, Victor Hugo Green, the guide initially focused on the region he knew best, but grew in time to cover most of North America, including parts of Canada as well as Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda before ceasing publication in 1966.
The work gives its name to and features in the 2018 Oscar-winning film about a tour of the Deep South made in the 1960s by a black classical pianist and his Italian-American chauffeur, and a new documentary film called The Green Book: Guide to Freedom was shown on the Smithsonian TV channel in the US earlier this year.
In the Swann sale a bid of $30,000 (£22,900) secured the July 1838 issue of The Mirror of Liberty.
Still in defective but original green printed wrappers, the eight pages of this radical, anti-abolitionist work form the first magazine edited by an African American.
Initially intended to be produced quarterly, it was issued only sporadically by its editor, David Ruggles, who had to contend not only with segregation but with failing eyesight, legal troubles and poverty.
Bid to $24,000 (£18,320) was a mimeographed draft typescript of Lorraine Hansbury’s play, A Raisin in the Sun. Including textual notes or corrections on several pages in an unknown hand, but inscribed by the author on the title-page, this was the first play by an African-American woman to be produced on Broadway.