Slave Sale, Richmond, Virginia, 1861

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Image Reference

The Illustrated London News (Feb. 16, 1861), p. 138. (Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library)

Caption, "Dealers inspecting a Negro at a slave auction in Virginia." This illustration accompanies a detailed eyewitness description of slave sales in Richmond. The person shown here was to be auctioned, and "some of the buyers . . . asked him a variety of questions, as to his last employment, state of his health, and so forth. Then they turned his head to the light, and lifted the corners of his eyes to ascertain if they were free from indications of disease; in the same way they examined his teeth. they did not do this in a harsh or brutal manner, but just the same as a doctor might examine a patient" (pp. 139-140). A composite engraving, combining the image shown here with an auction block scene shown on this website ( auction_richd_1861) 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).