First look at copy of Negro Motorist Green Book
  • Readers ask about Negro Motorist Book & swizzle sticks
  • On a search for ‘Negro Motorist Green Book’
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    Auction Finds

    Reader seeks original copy of Negro Motorist Book – Me, too!

    Friday is the day I answer readers’ questions. I try to guide readers to resources to help them determine the value of their items. I’m not able to appraise their treasures, but I can do some preliminary research to get them started. So, these are market values based on prices I find on the web, not appraisal for insurance purposes that I suggest for items that have been determined to be of great value.

    Today’s question is about the Negro Motorist Green Book, which was available during the early part of the 20th century.

    Negro Motorist Green Book

    Up-close view of the Negro Motorist Green Book that sold at auction. These guidebooks are hard to find.

    Question:

    Good afternoon. I am interested in finding a Negro Motorist Green Book. Would you be aware of any sites that may sell an original copy?

    Answer:

    You’re kidding, right? I’m desperately hoping that a copy will turn up at one of the auctions I attend. Those guides are very very hard to find. And if anyone has a copy to sell, they’d be asking a hefty price for it.

    The Negro Motorist Green Book was first published in 1936 by Victor H. Green, and offered African American travelers a list of welcoming places where they could find lodging, food and other services. Most of these establishments were owned by African Americans, and a few by whites.

    Negro Motorist Green Book

    Full view of 1941 edition of the book that sold at auction.

    There’s a copy of the 1949 and 1956 editions of the guide on the web. The name was changed to the Negro Travelers’ Green Book in 1952. The book was discontinued in the 1960s.

    Swann Auction Galleries in New York sold an original guide in March for $22,500 (with the buyer’s premium). It was my first look at an actual copy, this one dated 1941.

    So, you see they are rare.

    The Green Book was apparently not the only one produced for black travelers. A year ago, a 1953 Travelguide offering the same kind of information was sold at Swann. That one – more a pamphlet than a book – bore the name of a Philadelphia restaurant. It sold for $4,000 (with the buyer’s premium).

    My comment:

    If anyone has a copy of the book, guard it closely, hold onto it, or sell through a reputable auction house or other entity.

    Speaking of the Green Book, I also got a question from a producer named Brad Littlefield who has made a short film about a couple who used the book as they drove to California. You can see a preview of the film, titled “100 Miles to Lordsburg,” and contact him on Facebook.

    Question:

    Loved your posts about The Green Book. We’ve just finished shooting a film about a young couple traveling through the Southwestern US in 1961 using Victor Green’s travel guide. We are expanding the project, and looking for people and families who traveled with The Green Book, to share their stories which will be filmed as a series of vignettes.

     

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    1 Comment

    1. The pickers bought one about a week ago i think it sold for 100 dollars.

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