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May 8th, 2012
02:05 PM ET

'Magnificent' collection faces breakup

By Tiffany Alexander, CNN

Las Vegas (CNN) - Nathaniel Montague spent more than 50 of his 84 years chasing history, meticulously collecting rare and one-of-a-kind fragments of America's past. Slave documents. Photographs. Signatures. Recordings.

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 shudder to even fantasize what it could go for," said appraiser Philip Merrill, who performed the assessment.

For decades Montague carted the collection of African-American artwork, artifacts and ephemera around the country with his family as he took jobs at radio stations in New York, Chicago, Oakland, and Los Angeles, and then finally to Las Vegas, where he moved 12 years ago after closing a station he built from the ground up in Palm Springs, California.

The Montague Collection was his prized possession, but because of financial woes he has lost it. It is now up for auction.

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soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Jackie C

    This is a very important part of history and when I watched this video of few weeks ago it bothered me so much to think that it could be split up or auctioned up in bits and pieces distrubed me so much that I wrote the President. He wrote back today May 30, 2012, so I am hopeful that he has a idea to keep this together to preserve it for years to come.

    May 30, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Fed Up

    Nothing about this is "magnificent" and I don't see it as history worth noting.

    May 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |