Paper Money

Holabird auction offers stock certificate designed by G.T. Brown

This 1877 stock certificate for the Newark Silver Mining Co., was designed by San Francisco lithographer G.T. Brown.

Image courtesy of Holabird's Western Americana Collections.

A stock certificate bearing ornate designs created by San Francisco lithographer Grafton Tyler Brown will be among the items offered by Holabird’s Western Americana Collections Sept. 13 to 15, at an auction in Reno, Nev.

The stock certificate for the Newark Silver Mining Co. is dated Dec. 22, 1877, and is for 50 shares for owner H.A. Sweet. It is “a great example of how G.T. Brown creates a picture without pictures” with “fancy letters, etched circles.” Brown designed the certificate in 1872.

No grade is given for this piece in the catalog but it is estimated to realize $200 to $400.

“G.T. Brown is the (or at least one of the) most important West Coast lithographers during the 1800s. He was a self-trained artist and pioneer lithographer. He took on the largest San Francisco lithographic firms in the 1860s and 1870s and equaled them in design,” according to the catalog.

Brown is perhaps one of the best known in a slender category of African-American lithographers.

He was born in 1841 in Pennsylvania to free, light-skinned African-Americans, and because of that fact he could “pass” for white in a world that would have blocked his advancement, according to a recently published book, San Francisco Lithographer – African American Artist Grafton Tyler Brown, by Robert J. Chandler, retired historian for Wells Fargo Bank.

Many other items designed and printed by Brown are included in the auction.

The auction Sept. 13 and 14 at the HWAC office in Reno, Nev., will be followed on Sept. 15 by an online-only session.

For more information visit the Holabird website or telephone the firm at 775-851-1959.

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