195

Blind Boone and Retinue, Oversize Photograph, Norfolk, Nebraska, 1891

Oversize albumen photograph of John William "Blind" Boone (1864-1927) with his retinue, manager John Lange, secretary R.H. Lange, vocalist Stella May, and treasurer Eugenia Boone. Macy & Doughty: Norfolk, Nebraska, [July 6, 1891]. 8.75 x 6.5 in., mounted to 10 x 7 in. Verso of the mount features a printed biography of Boone and a list of his retinue including his manager and promoter John Lange. All of the subjects are lavished dressed wearing fur coats and velvet hats. Boone sits at center wearing a pinstripe suit with a watch fob, large tie pin, and medal on his lapel while holding a fine walking stick. Lange stands next to him holding Ed the parrot, who was known to announce concerts. 

John William "Blind" Boone (1864-1927) was born to a woman named Rachel, who had escaped slavery by working as a cook for Company I of the 7th Missouri Militia in the Union Army. Her former enslavers were descendants of pioneer Daniel Boone, and she used their surname for herself and her son, though John's actual father was a bugler for the regiment she served. Mother and son went to live in Warrensburg, Missouri, where a brain swelling disease in John's early years necessitated an operation in which his eyes were removed. John's mother noticed his musical talent as a child, and worked to give him as many opportunities as she could, including an education at the Missouri School for the Blind. 

Boone first met John Lange, Jr. when he was invited to perform at a concert organized by Lange at Second Baptist Church in Columbia. Boone performed so well that he was invited again the next year to perform with "Blind Tom." Lange and Boone formed a partnership in which Lange served as Boone's manager. Lange promoted Boone to audiences with clever tactics including offering $1000 to anyone who could stump Boone with a song he could not play (a prize he never had to pay out). Boone's career took off as he toured around 10 months each year from 1880-1915, performing for large crowds who showed up to hear him play a variety of genres from Classical to Ragtime, and songs from plantation/minstrel tunes to religious melodies. Boone completed his last major tour in 1920, performed his last concert in May of 1927, and died later that year of a heart attack on October 4th.  

Condition:

Minor warping to mount, some toning. 

Estimate: $2,500 - $3,500
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium
$1,875
12/03/2020

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