104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010  | 
(212) 254-4710  |  Mon - Fri, 10AM - 6PM
Follow Us:
  • We are happy to call you during the auction and place bids on your behalf. To arrange phone bidding, please call Swann's bid department during business hours.

    (212) 254-4710 ext. 0
    Mon - Fri 10AM - 6PM


    Or, e-mail a list of lots with the sale number and your contact information to phonebids@swanngalleries.com. Be sure to include a phone number where we can reach you.

    Bids may also be submitted via fax. Send a list of lots with the sale number and your contact information to (212) 979-1017. You will receive a confirmation before the sale.

    Sale 2403 | Lot 148
    Price Realized: $40,000With Buyer's Premium
    Show Hammer Price
    • Click Image To Enlarge

      Additional Images
    • Sale 2403 Lot 148

      "I Am an American!" Charcoal and pastel on board. 1372x1067 mm; 54x42 inches. Inscribed "To the SPIRIT OF AMERICA," and signed by Christy, lower right image. Some areas of faint pastel smudges. Original wood frame and glass. [New York], 1941.

      Estimate $25,000 - 35,000

      This original study for the iconic "I Am an American" billboard poster was donated by Howard Chandler Christy to PS. 60, the Ottilia M. Beha Junior High School, 420 East 12th Street, New York City. It was created to celebrate "I Am an American Day" on May 18th, 1941. The event took place in Central Park, where native-born Americans and those who had attained citizenship through naturalization gathered and recited an oath of allegiance to the United States. Congress eventually moved the holiday to September and renamed it "Constitution and Citizenship Day." The determined, spirited "Columbia" in the maquette was based on model Elise Ford; she is seen here donning a traditional laurel wreath, bearing a torch and a volume of Constitutional Law. The Chairman for the Mayor's rally committee, Federal Judge Murray Hulbert, was quoted in the New York Times on May 4, 1941, suggesting that if Hitler could see the poster it would "stop him in his tracks." Billboard-sized versions of the poster were hung in Times Square to publicize the Central Park celebrations in the 1940s. Both Christy and Ford were in attendance at the Times Square unveiling in 1942 with Mayor Fiorello La Guardia.

      Price Realized (with Buyer's Premium) $40,000