A Tour Through Harlem With E. Simms Campbell and Cab Calloway

E. Simms Campbell, A Night-club Map of Harlem

Lot 415: E. Simms Campbell, A Night-Club Map of Harlem, pen and brush, 1932. Estimate $40,000 to $60,000.

It takes more than artistic skill to capture not only the look of a place, but the feel of it. It takes an intimate knowledge, a love, and that’s exactly what jumps off the page in E. Simms Campbell’s vibrant illustration A Night-Club Map of Harlem. 

Elmer Simms Campbell, who published cartoons and illustrations as E. Simms Campbell, was the first African-American illustrator to be syndicated. His work was regularly featured in national periodicals including Esquire, Cosmopolitan, The New Yorker, Playboy and many more. Simms Campbell became a close friend of Jazz great Cab Calloway, who is featured in the lower left corner of the map. In the video clip below, from the documentary film Cab Calloway: Sketches, Calloway reflects on the Jazz clubs of Harlem while giving viewers a tour through an animated version of Simms Campbell’s map.



The map would go on to appear as a centerfold in the first issue of the 1932 Manhattan Magazine; a copy of that issue sold at Swann in 2011 for $16,800. It would later be featured in Esquire. The original pen and brush illustration of the map is featured in our upcoming March 31 auction of Printed & Manuscript African Americana. For more items related to Harlem, Jazz and a wealth of other topics, check out the complete catalogue