Racialized decorations and household goods were defined by their obvious functions to stand in for the traditional labor of black service workers: illuminate the white home, clean the white body, and burnish the class status of the white homeowner. Yet, their often sophisticated design and markings of use suggest that these goods held significance not only as a substitute for an actual black servant but also as material focus for racial desire and animus—an intimate thing for cleaning floors and teeth, a sophisticated thing for social performance, and a durable thing for hanging, lighting, holding, and kicking.

Key Rack and Cigarette Stand

Dennis Adrian Collection