Private Black History Archive in Jeopardy

Nathaniel Montague, 84, spent 50 years building the million-dollar collection.

Posted: 05/10/2012 11:09 AM EDT

An impressive collection of African-American historical artifacts that became the lifetime obsession of an elderly African-American man may soon be sold to the highest bidder if a millionaire buyer doesn’t step forward soon to buy the entire collection. Some of the priceless items include "rare and one-of-a-kind fragments of America's past. Slave documents. Photographs. Signatures. Recordings." CNN reports:

“[Nathaniel] Montague — Magnificent Montague, as he's been known since his days as a pioneering radio DJ — amassed an 8,000-piece collection reflecting names from the well-known to the forgotten to those history never thought to remember. It's valued in the millions; some call it priceless. One assessment of just five of the pieces puts the total value of those treasures alone somewhere between $592,000 and $940,000.

"I have not been able to maintain the collection for the last couple of years," Montague said. While working with his wife of 56 years, Rose Casalan, to archive and prepare the collection for sale, he took out a loan to help pay for the archiving, found himself overextended financially and declared bankruptcy. His collection was seized, and it is now in the hands of a trusteeship charged with selling it to satisfy his debts, including a judgment for $325,000 plus interest and court fees.

If no one steps up to buy the collection in its entirety, Montague's life's work could be dismantled and sold off in pieces to pay his creditors.”

Read the full story here.

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(Photo: Courtesy CNN)