December 2013 Premium Holiday Auction
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 1/5/2014

Presented is a fascinating collection of autographs obtained throughout the 1940s by one Mary Jane Mudd, a 1930s New York City socialite, as evidenced by the accompanying newspaper article, who later worked as one of the Big Apple's first female cab drivers (original NYPD-issued hack license and badge included). Whether the Great Depression forced Mary into this profession, or it was because of the second Great War and the consequent shortage of male drivers, or simply because she chose it for the sheer fun of driving -- which we can surmise from her photograph with her custom convertible Cadillac V-16, driving gloves in hand -- we may never know, but by the late 1940s, Mary and a few other black female cabbies were transporting passengers all over Manhattan, from the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel to Harlem and back downtown. As famed actress and one-time cabby Gertrude Hadley Jeannette explained in a 2011 article in the New York Daily News, "In those days they didn't allow black drivers to work downtown. You had to work uptown." But, she goes on, they did it anyways. (Notice that Hadley's Hack Licence number pictured in the Daily News article precedes Mary Jane Mudd's by just a couple of digits.) "I met so many interesting people," continues Hadley. "I wrote a play about one... So many interesting stories."

We're certain that Mrs. Mudd would concur. Her prized autograph collection begins with a 1947 Jackie Robinson Bond Bread rookie baseball card bearing a signature that Mudd most likely penned herself, but it is then followed by nearly 30 other authentic signatures, predominantly featuring famous black Americans, ranging from baseball players like Roy Campanella and a real Jackie Robinson -- one of the nicest you will ever see -- to boxers like Joe Louis, Beau Jack and Bob Montgomery, jazz musicians like Maxine Sullivan and Amanda Randolph, actresses like Lucille Ball, Nancy Carroll, Margaret O'Brien and Butterfly McQueen, who played Scarlett O'Hara's maid Prissy in Gone With the Wind. There's a prominent entry from famed New York City Irish Politician James A. Farley, for whom the city's central post office is named, and in green ink, to boot! There is aviation pioneer Hubert Julian, "The Black Eagle of Harlem," also considered the Black Lindbergh. There's producer Adolph Thenstead (also a cab driver) and stage actor Jack LaRue, movie stars James Edwards, Rex Ingram and Frederic March -- the only actor to ever win the Academy Award and the Tony Award, twice -- plus Civil Rights leaders Roy Wilkins, Paul Robeson and Canada Lee, the latter two of whom parlayed their fame as actors into a popular humanitarianism that preceded and helped to inspire The Movement. Although largely forgotten, Lee was a fascinating man who also had stints as a jockey, a boxer, and a musician, and his autograph is among the scarcest in this collection, as he passed away in 1952, just weeks before he was scheduled to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Last but not least, there is also the Nicholas Brothers, the most famous tap dancing duo of their day and probably of all time. In addition to these 23, there are also a few we cannot identify, including an Armstrong (looks like Sonny, but possibly Louis?), an E. Coles, a Churchill, an A. Scott, and more. Thirty signatures in total, with historically significant and foolproof provenance, and a full JSA LOA. Merry Christmas, from Mary Mudd!

PS: JSA has indicated that this item and the autographs contained within are authentic, but we are waiting on the their LOA to arrive from JSA's New Jersey office, and we'll post it as soon as possible.

Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $1
Final prices include buyers premium: $2,228
Number Bids: 25
Auction closed on Sunday, January 5, 2014.
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