Slave Auction, Richmond, Virginia, 1861


The Illustrated London News (Feb. 16, 1861), vol. 38, p.139.


Shows a man and woman (with child in arms) on auction block, surrounded by white men. Article in the ILN accompanying this sketch by our special correspondent (G.H. Andrews) provides a lengthy eyewitness description of slave sales in Richmond, part of which is excerpted here: The auction rooms for the sale of Negroes are situated in the main streets, and are generally the ground floors of the building; the entrance-door opens straight into the street, and the sale room is similar to any other auction room . . . . placards, advertisements, and notices as to the business carried on are dispensed with, the only indications of the trade being a small red flag hanging from the front door post, and a piece of paper upon which is written . . . this simple announcement--'Negroes for sale at auction' . . . . From here there follows a detailed description of the scene shown in the illustration and the auction process (pp. 138 -140). A composite engraving, combining the auction block and people on the right shown in this image with the image of a slave being inspected for sale (see image NW0027) was published in the French publication L'illustration, Journal Universel (vol. 37 [1861], p. 148), misleadingly giving the impression that the scene is an original depiction of a slave sale in South Carolina; this illustration, in turn, appears on the Mary Evans Picture Library website with an unattributed source (picture no. 10044451).

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