Deep South 'Slave' Dolls Under the Southern Cross

Mar 08, 2011, 06:00 ET from Charles Leski Auctions

MELBOURNE, Australia, March 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- By its very nature slavery is one of the worst forms of deprivation. Children born to slave parents have few of the things the rest of us take for granted. But even the dispossessed can be highly inventive as a remarkable group of five rare hand-made slave dolls from 19th century America shows.

There is more to this rare and compelling collection than meets the eye. Not only are they much larger than typical slave dolls from this period (31cm to 66cm), they came to Australia in the company of Lord Alistair McAlpine, the hereditary British peer who is notable for building Broome into one of Australia's most highly-acclaimed if isolated tourist destinations. He later gave them to Australian artist, Sir Sidney Nolan.

It's understandable why a collector and an artist would be so enamoured by them. They include a doll fashioned in the image of a southern sharecropper. He is wearing a typical lightweight two-piece cotton outfit and his corncob arms reveal his origins in the fields of the American South.

"The innocence of the child reflected in these dolls belies the reality of life for the slave," says Charles Leski. "Most of us would see them as a fascinating if shameful reminder of America's past. Sidney Nolan would also have appreciated the workmanship and the parallels with Australia's own flawed history."

Lots 500 to 504 have pre-sale estimates from $800 - $2,000. (NB: Image available at

The lots will be sold by Leski Auctions in Melbourne on Thursday, March 31st at 5.00pm.

Leski Auctions was established in 1973 and is one of Australia's leading auctioneers of Sporting Memorabilia, Australiana, Collectibles and World Philately.

Leski Auctions is a recognised leader in the area of early photography, art, wine, cameras, books, autographs, entertainment memorabilia, medals, coins, stamps, aerophilately, cigarette and trade cards, maps, railway memorabilia, advertising artwork and posters, and the Olympics, football and cricket.

It was the first auction house in Australia to introduce an on-line, real-time bidding system 'Live Bid Online'(TM), which allows participation from anywhere in the world. It currently runs 22 auctions per year.

The company is located at 13 Cato Street, Hawthorn East 3123 Australia.  Tel +61-3-864 9999 and


Charles Leski

Leski Auctions

Tel: +61-3-9864-9999

Michael Krape

Michael Krape Consulting

Tel: +61-403-135-880

SOURCE Charles Leski Auctions