Duluth store sells postcard of 1920 lynching

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DULUTH, Minn. - Tucked into a collection of Duluth memorabilia for sale at a Canal Park antique store is a souvenir of one of the most shameful incidents in the city's history: a postcard featuring images of the 1920 lynching of black circus workers Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie.

The "lynching postcard" was part of a private collection of postcards, glass negatives and other Duluth memorabilia entrusted to local dealer Craig Lipinski for sale after the owner died, Lipinski said. He said he sold most of the other postcards on eBay, but that the lynching postcard ran afoul of the online auction site's "offensive material" policy that forbids listings that "graphically portray, glorify, or attempt to profit from human tragedy or suffering," including Nazi memorabilia and crime-scene photographs.

The Duluth postcard was listed for about a day before eBay suspended the sale, Lipinski said. In that time the card was bid up to almost $240, the price Lipinski decided to offer it for. It's been for sale at Father Time Antiques since late July, he said.

Father Time co-owner Penny Seehus agreed to display it in the store.

"It's hard to look at, I agree," Seehus said. "But it happened. It's real."

Seehus said she occasionally gets complaints from customers upset about some item in the shop, whether it's Nazi memorabilia emblazoned with swastikas or vintage calendars featuring nude prints. But these items, as offensive as some may find them, are part of our history, she said.

The gruesome postcards were popular during the early 1900s. They were bought, sold and sent as souvenirs, though the U.S. Postal Service banned them as "violent mail" in 1908.

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