In late February, a monumental personal collection that tracks down Black Americans’ history is expected to arrive at the auction block. The collection ranges from unique civil rights posters to shoes previously owned by Muhammad Ali.
In the span of over 60 years, Elizabeth Meaders, aged 90 and a former teacher, has accumulated the collection that crowds her home in Staten Island. The pieces detail the African-American experience.
Meaders said, “This collection was designed as a patriotic healing and teaching instrument, and it’s vitally critically needed because as a further insult to a people, our history was actually left out of the history books of America,” indicating that her ancestry is among the first Black families to live on Staten Island.
“So, this collection is a gap filler,” she said.
More than 20,000 pieces of Black history memorabilia and antiquities are to be sold in Guernsey’s Auction based in New York.
Arlan Ettinger, president at Guernsey’s, said, “There are several detailed appraisals of this collection produced over the years by highly qualified individuals…and they ranked this collection in the sort of $7 to 10 million range.”
“People far more knowledgeable than I have been amazed at the extent of this collection made all the more remarkable, given the fact that Ms. Meaders put it together as a teacher, on a teacher’s salary,” said Ettinger.
Other items counting pieces linking to the horrors of slavery, including branding tools and shackles, newspapers and archives celebrating civil rights demonstrations, letters from segregationists, and sporting, military, and other rewards received by the Black Americans.
February 28 is the date that the online auction will set for the collection, which is marketed as a single lot.