University Archives


Blanche K. Bruce, Frederick Douglass Successor, Signed Washington, D.C. Land Deeds, 2 Pcs

Two land deeds signed by Blanche K. Bruce (1841-1898), Washington, D.C. Recorder of Deeds, as "B K Bruce" and "B K Bruce / Recorder" respectively. A former Virginia slave, Bruce was appointed by President Benjamin Harrison to succeed to the office of Recorder of the District of Columbia just a few years after the tenure of Frederick Douglass (1881-1886.) Bruce was also the first elected black U.S. Senator (representing Mississippi) to serve a full term in the U.S. Senate between 1875-1881.

The lot includes:

1. A "Deed-Quit Claim" signed by Bruce as "B K Bruce / Recorder" on the docket in Washington, D.C. on August 1, 1890. The 4pp partly printed and partly handwritten document measuring 8.5" x 14" is folded into four equal parts and records details of a land transfer from William A. Wisong, et al. and Washington, D.C. attorney William L. Bramhall. Bramhall purchased two lots of land located in Maryland from Wisong survivors and descendants for $60. Bearing numerous signatures and embossed seals throughout. Expected folds, toning, and chipped edges, else very good.

2. A "Deed of Trust" signed by Bruce as "B K Bruce" on the docket in Washington, D.C. on September 9, 1890. The document, of a similar nature and size as the first one described, describes the terms of a land transfer from "George A. Jordan and wife" (Hattie M. Jordan) and William E. Edmonton and Aldis B. Brown, Trustees. The lot of land in question was involved in the presentation of a $8,000 promissory note to the American Security and Trust Company. Bearing an embossed notary public seal and several signatures. Expected light wear including minor closed tears along well-creased paper folds, else near fine.

The Recordership of the District of Columbia was a prestigious and lucrative position: during his tenure as Recorder, Bruce's salary was $30,000 annually, or nearly $900,000 in 2020 currency. The appointment of Frederick Douglass to the post in 1881 began a long tradition, extending well into the twentieth century, of awarding the post to worthy African-American candidates. Along with Douglass and Bruce, another black Recorder of Deeds, James M. Trotter, is well-known.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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