This silk banner proclaiming the abolition of slavery in the British empire in 1834 took £11,500 (plus 25% buyer’s premium) at Chiswick Auctions on January 18. Worked in blue and gold silk, the banner reads August 1, 1834 Slavery in the British Dominions Utterly and for ever Abolished.
The Slavery Abolition Act, which freed more than 800,000 enslaved Africans in the Caribbean and South Africa as well as a small number in Canada, had received Royal Assent on August 28, 1833, but did not take effect until August 1, 1834.
The banner was one of many ‘cabinet of curiosity’ items assembled by a London dealer in mechanical and scientific antiques in the 1980s and 90s. Most had been in storage for 20 years.
Head of sale Austin Farahar said: “I’ve not seen one before - doubtless many similar pennants and banners were made at the time to mark the event but very few appear to have survived. Textiles associated with emancipation are much rarer than other commemoratives such as pottery mugs and jugs. Generally prices for slavery memorabilia have been rising - driven by interest from US museums and institutions that are keen to improve their holdings of material relating to the experience of African Americans.“