General Custer memorabilia tops Heritage Americana auction

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2015-06-26 10:59:21

General Custer memorabilia tops Heritage Americana auction

Heritage has announced the results from their latest Political, Western Legends & Americana sale, with General Custer leading the auction to more than $2.5 million.

Taking place in Dallas, Texas on December 11-12, the sale featured numerous items relating to the Old West and in particular, one man – General George Armstrong Custer. Regarded as an almost legendary figure in American history, Custer’s celebrated military career has forever been overshadowed by his final defeat and death at the battle of Little Bighorn.

Generations of collectors have since sought out his memorabilia, and the Heritage sale offered a veritable treasure-trove for Custer collectors.

Topping the auction was a Frederic Remington oil painting, dated 1888, entitled ‘Custer Leading the 7th Cavalry at the Battle of Washita’. Created as an illustration for the book ‘The Household History of the United States and its People’, the painting depicts a crucial early victory for the U.S Army in the Indian Wars and sold for a price of $179,250.

Also capturing the attentions of collectors were two items owned by Custer - his Army-issue rifle and personal gun belt.

The rifle, a Model 1865 Spencer Carbine, has previously been owned by Dr. Lawrence A. Frost who was renowned to have built the biggest collection of Custer artefacts ever assembled. It was also described by Custer himself in a passage from his autobiography which read “Leaping from my bed I grasped my trusty Spencer which was always at my side”. As with all of Custer’s original firearms, the rifle was highly sought after at auction and eventually sold for a price of $179,250.

The gun belt, featuring the holster, cartridge box and brass buckle, had also originated from the collection of Dr. Frost. Appearing with an estimated value of $15,000-25,000, the belt was snapped up by a collector for an impressive sum of $71,700.

Other lots included one of Custer’s military jackets and an original photographic portrait taken in 1863.

The U.S Cavalry Officer’s fatigue coat was yet another piece from the Frost Collection, with an exceptional provenance, and sold for $31,070. The photograph, described as “One of the Most Important Original From-Life Photographic Images Ever to Come to Market”, was a large half-plate ambrotype taken by William Frank Browne. Just two images survive from the photographic session, with the other currently housed in the Smithsonian. This second image had originate directly from Custer’s descendants, and easily surpassed its estimate of $30,000+ to sell for $83,650.

The sale also featured notable lots including a signed, handwritten letter by the legendary lawman and gambler Wild Bill Hickok which sold for $71,700 and a set of Presidential golf clubs owned by Gerald Ford, which sold for $26,290.

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