An 1849 lithograph of a then sparsely populated San Francisco harbor
sold for $2,500 during the Sept. 13 to 14 public auction by Holabird’s
Western Americana Collections in Reno, Nev.
Prices stated here do not include the buyer’s fee, which differs by
type of item being sold and method of payment.
The lithograph was made by Grafton Tyler Brown, who the catalog
describes as “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.”
Brown also designed a stock certificate for 50 shares in the Newark
Silver Mining Co. An example for owner H.A. Sweet, dated Dec. 22,
1877, sold for $100 in the auction.
It is “a great example of how G.T. Brown creates a picture without
pictures” with “fancy letters, etched circles,” according to the
catalog. Brown designed the certificate in 1872.
No grade is given for this piece in the catalog.
Brown is perhaps one of the best known in a slender category of
African-American lithographers. His life is chronicled in a new book,
San Francisco Lithographer – African American Artist Grafton
Tyler Brown, by Robert J. Chandler, retired historian for Wells
For more information, visit the Holabird website or telephone the firm at 775-851-1959.
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