African American News and Genealogy

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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Slave Bible auctioned for over $10K


March 1, 2005

A 1771 Bible owned by Samuel Townsend of Oyster Bay that contains four pages of inscriptions about family slaves is coming back to the family's ancestral home."I'm just thrilled to have it," said Paula Weir of Oyster Bay, a trustee of the Raynham Hall Museum, which occupies Townsend's West Main Street home. "It belongs at Raynham Hall."

The museum bought the leather-bound volume at an auction for more than $10,000 -- more than twice the pre-auction estimate.Swann Galleries in Manhattan, which had estimated conservatively that the Bible would sell for $3,000 to $4,000, opened the bidding at $2,800. The volume and slipcase sold for $9,000 plus the 15-percent seller's commission, for a total of $10,350. Museum director Sarah Abruzzi, who made the winning bid, said "it's priceless for us. To have people learn from it will be wonderful."Abruzzi said she engaged in a bidding war with a private individual at the gallery and another on a phone line, with about 10 bids placed overall.She said she spent almost all the museum's acquistions budget but "it ended up working out perfectly for us. We were committed to getting it so we probably would have bought it anyway [at a higher price] and figured out how to pay for it later."Townsend was one of the founders of Oyster Bay. The Bible remained in the family until yesterday's sale in in Swann Galleries' 10th annual auction of African-Americana. But it's not clear when the Bible left Raynham Hall. Full Story:,0,15102.story?coll=ny-linews-headlines


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