EMPEROR NORTON. c.1818-1880. Photograph signed ("Norton I"), albumen print carte-de-visite,

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Lot 110
EMPEROR NORTON. c.1818-1880.
Photograph signed ("Norton I"), albumen print carte-de-visite,

Sold for US$ 3,187 inc. premium

Fine Books and Manuscripts

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8 Jul 2020 ended at 13:00 EDT

New York

Americana
EMPEROR NORTON. c.1818-1880.
Photograph signed ("Norton I"), albumen print carte-de-visite, 3 1/2 x 2 1/4 inches on 4 3/16 x 2 1/2 inch mount, full-length portrait of Norton by Bradley & Rulofson, San Francisco, c.1864, signed and inscribed on the verso: "J. Henry Meyers(?). / Faithfully / Norton I."

Joshua Abraham Norton, born in Deptford, England and raised in South Africa, arrived San Francisco in 1849. He amassed a small fortune by way of real estate and imports, but lost it after an ill-advised 1852 investment in rice. Over the next several years, after protracted litigation over the rice contract, Norton went from a fortune of $250,000 (roughly equivalent of $8 million today) to living in a Kearny Street boarding house. He emerged in September 17, 1859 with a letter to various newspapers of the city proclaiming himself "Emperor of these United States." The letter was first published in the San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin as a humor piece. Norton became an instantly recognizable local figure in his military costume as he walked the San Francisco streets. He would go on to make many political decrees over the years, some of which quite incisive and progressive. There are stories of him stopping a group of anti-Chinese rioters by standing between them and the Chinese people they were targeting and reciting the Lord's Prayer until the rioters dispersed. Among his many progressive proclamations and decrees, Norton demanded that African Americans be allowed to ride streetcars and attend public schools, that the courts allow Chinese people to testify and that women be allowed to vote. He went on to become a much beloved figure of San Francisco, receiving regular coverage in the city's newspapers, being included in local directories as emperor and he was even listed in the 1870 census as emperor. Samuel Clemens famously included him in a modified form as the King in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Norton posed for a number of photographs (17 according to the Emperor Norton Trust) although very few signed photographs have appeared on the market. He poses here in full U.S. military dress complete with epaulets on his coat and holding a walking stick, but with a rough hem on his pant legs.
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EMPEROR NORTON. c.1818-1880. Photograph signed ("Norton I"), albumen print carte-de-visite,
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