AUCTION: c.1900 WIlliam A. Spengler, Freeport, IL Sketchbook (Closing May 24, 4pm et)

Regular price $0.00

Currently bid is at $825. This item is being sold via auction on instagram @criticaleyefinds, where you will find it posted in my feed.  Please bid in comments on the post or contact me directly to bid on your behalf.  Bidding starts at $100 and will proceed in $25 increments. The auction will close on Instagram on WEDNESDAY May 24 at 4pm ET, with a final call for bids.

This listing is to provide information/documentation. I 'm selling this sketchbook via auction as I think it is quite a wonderful and unusual one, which I want to keep whole, and want to usher into the hands of someone who really values it--and I always find it difficult to price sketchbooks! 

From what I can tell, the majority of drawings inside were done by a William A. Spengler of Freeport, Illinois c. 1900. (He incorporated his initials into a few and based on those it is easy to attribute the majority to him.) I have found two William A Spenglers - one born in 1857 in Freeport, IL; the other listed as living in Chicago in the 1940 census, born c.  1879. There is also the name Leonard Spengler written on the cover--who married a Cecelia Secker, who died in in Augustine Florida in 1973--which is who must have carried the sketchbook forward as I purchased it from a seller in Florida.

What I find particularly notable is the queerness of the drawings; I feel certain Spengler was gay and his drawings very much reflect it. A mustached jockey in a long flowing bow-tied skirt driving two horses. A man clearly in drag (he shows his ability to draw women very well elsewhere; it is no mistake) as the definition of beauty.  Men as couples--pushing a baby stroller together, wrapped together in a tornado.  Pink in addition to baby blue throughout making his dandies seem all the more dandy. Lots of single portraits, often titled (the drum major may be my favorite), a couple of Native American chiefs and soldiers in uniform, a couple with captions as jokes. Presumably drawn while living in the fairly small town of Freeport, IL. their existence surprises me, and though the manner of drawing is akin some some of my favorite drawings I have found from right around 1900 (see Wayne Blouch's drawings on my website) their content is, to me at least, in many cases quite--and very wonderfully!--unusual.

8 7/8" x 5 13/16" and in very good condition, just light toning/minor smudging and a lille edge wear. Cover is not attached. 45 pages total, all used (front + back = 1 page), with a mix of blank flip sides and double sided drawings. (Double sided drawings are for the most part the looser sketches at the end; the strongest drawings are blank on reverse.) I have documented pretty thoroughly, just omitting a handful of less interesting pages, interspersed, which seem to have been drawn by other family members.