May 07, 2020 - Sale 2534

Sale 2534 - Lot 4

Price Realized: $ 4,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 4,000 - $ 6,000
(SLAVERY AND ABOLITION.) [McPherson & Oliver; photographers.] The Scourged Back. Albumen photograph, 3 1/2 x 2 1/4 inches, on original mount with publisher's descriptive text on verso; minimal wear. Philadelphia: McAllister & Brothers, [1863]

Additional Details

A strong example of one of the most iconic images of slavery. After repeated beating and whippings at a Louisiana plantation, Peter Gordon escaped from slavery and made his way to a Union camp at Baton Rouge, where he joined the army as a private. A camp photographer took a series of photographs which graphically demonstrated the brutality he had endured. The present photograph was the best known. It was engraved for the 4 July 1863 issue of Harper's Weekly, where it ran over the caption "Gordon Under Medical Inspection." This example is given the caption "The Scourged Back" in verso, over an extract of an April 1863 letter by S.K. Towle, the surgeon who examined him in camp: "Few sensation writers ever depicted worse punishments than this man must have received, though nothing in his appearance indicates any unusual viciousness--but on the contrary, he seems intelligent and well-behaved."