No More Auction Block

January 29th, 2009

no-more-auction-block

 

Lyrics:

 

No more auction block for me
No more, no more
No more auction block for me
Many thousands gone

No more driver's lash for me
No more, no more
No more driver's lash for me
Many thousands gone

No more whip lash for me
No more, no more
No more pint of salt for me
Many thousands gone

No more auction block for me
No more, no more
No more auction block for me
Many thousands gone

This is a version of “No More Auction Block” record by Paul Robeson.

The song “No More Auction Block” is a spiritual song that dates back to the United States Civil War. This song was first heard during the War as a marching song for black soldiers, and there no known original author.

The lyrics of the song are very simple. They refer to things that were part of a slave’s life, and declare that the will no longer be part of the singer’s life. Unlike many of the other anti-slavery songs of the time, this song deals with the issue of slavery directly, as opposed to having a double meaning.

Because of the lyrics, this song would have been primarily song by black soldiers and other freed slaves. It was especially popular among those freed slaves who fought in the Union Army. Since this was a spiritual song, it would have been mostly performed in informal settings with minimal instrumental accompaniment.  

Though the song deals specifically with the issue of slavery, it continued to be a popular song. It was continually performed as blacks continued to fight for equal rights.  Traces of the melody can be found in Bob Dylan’s song “Blowing In The Wind” (Place 9).  Today many artists continue to play this song due to its historical value.  

Paul Robeson began to popularize Negro spirituals in the 1920’s.  Besides having a successful career in singing, Robeson also acted.  He broke down many racial barriers in music and theater. Throughout his career he also played a large role in promoting civil rights for people all over the world.  

 

 

Works Cited

Place, Jeff.  ”Classic Folk Music From Smithsonian Folkways” Smithsonian Folkways Recordings,       2004.

 

 

 

Mabel Helen (née Robertson) White (1876-1956) created this hand painted porcelain dish with lid around 1890, probably at her parents’ home outside of Boston, Massachusetts.  The dish itself is unmarked and could have been produced in China or, as what was becoming more common in the nineteenth century, in the United States.  She painted the dish and lid herself—a blue background and gold trim with yellow, purple, and pink flowers on the top of the lid and on the sides.  There is also a cluster of flowers on the inside the dish.  On the bottom, someone painted White’s initials and the date in red.  The initials and date, however, do not appear to be produced by a steady hand and, therefore, could have been painted by someone else or at a much later date by White herself. 

 

This porcelain dish probably sat on a bedroom bureau or in a parlor where it held small knickknacks, such as barrettes or hairpins.   Since it is hand painted and in good condition, it probably was not a food container. Although porcelain was commonly used to serve food, the paint on the dish and lid would wear off quickly, especially through continuous washing.  The dish and lid are also rather small, about 4 inches in diameter, which would limit it usefulness to condiments and other dishes that required very little space.      

 

The ability to paint porcelain, like doing embroidery, was considered to be a mark of refinement among Victorian Americans.  For parents, it demonstrated that they had enough money to spend on this kind of an education for their daughters, and that they did not need to send their daughters outside the home to support the family by working, or to help with domestic chores in the household. Many young, white, middle-class women learned to paint as a way of increasing their social capital, especially in terms of possible marriage prospects.  In many cases, these women brought the goods that they had produced to their new household once they were married.   

 

This dish and lid was handed down to her granddaughter, Eleanor Carroll, and then from Carroll to her granddaughter, Krystyn Moon. 

 

For an example of another hand painted porcelain dish from the same period, click on the following link: http://www.trojanhorseantiques.com/HandpaintedSquareRoseDish.jpg.