Controversial 1876 bill of sale for Black woman, infant pulled from auction
LONDON, ONT. -- From a distance, it looks like any other historical artifact, but when you read it, it becomes unsettling.
It’s a $500 bill of sale for a 19-year-old Black woman and her infant child dated 1876, years after slavery ended. The item had received a number of bids after being listed at Gardner Galleries on Hamilton Road.
“They're more common in the U.S.,” said James Gardner from Gardner Galleries. “This is the first one I can remember seeing and I've been doing this almost 20 years.”
Gardner says they sell everything that comes through the door, however pulling this item off the auction block was an easy decision.
“It just wasn't right to sell this, we felt, lets pull it from the sale because we should not be making a commission from selling a piece so it is going back to the consignor,” said Gardner.
Leroy Hibbert is a member of the London Black History Committee and he says it’s concerning.
“I'm glad they took it down because of the significance of what that document represents as far as slavery,” said Hibbert. “It was a legal instrument that was used back then that built an economy on the backs of people that were enslaved, which is terrible.”
The receipt came from a London consignor and Gardner says there is a demand for these kinds of items.
“You know in my experience there is collectors for everything,” said Gardner.
Hibbert says the document should be preserved somewhere, “So people cannot forget where we came from so we don't repeat that sort of behaviour.”