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  LOT 138
Rare and Desirable, Historic Major General George Armstrong Custer Autographed Photograph - Born in New Rumley, Ohio on 5 December 1839, George Armstrong Custer would go on to become one of the more polarizing figures in American history. Custer entered West Point as a cadet in 1857 as part of the class of 1862, however with the outbreak of the Civil War, their five year course was shortened to four years, the class graduating in 1861, with George last in his class. He was known for pushing boundaries and bending the rules during his time at West Point, amassing one of the worst conduct records in the history of the academy with a tally of 726 demerits in only four years.
He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 2nd U.S. Cavalry and took part
in various battles early in the war including; First Battle of Bull Run, the Peninsula Campaign, Siege of Yorktown, Battle of South Mountain, and the Battle of Antietam. In the summer of 1863 he was made aide to Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Pleasonton, who was command of the cavalry corps of the Army of the Potomac at the start of the Gettysburg Campaign. Pleasonton was soon promoted to major general and began replacing politically appointed officers with “commanders who were prepared to fight, to personally lead mounted attacks”. Custer was just such a commander, being promoted to brigadier general and placed in command of the Michigan “Wolverines” Cavalry Brigade.
Leading this brigade at the Battle of Gettysburg was when Custer’s swift rise to fame truly began. On the third day of the battle, the Confederate forces under General
Lee planned a massed infantry assault on the center of the Union line anchored
on Cemetery Ridge, with coordinated attacks on each flank, one being led by the Confederacy’s cavalry maestro, J.E.B. Stuart. Heavily outnumbered in the “East Cavalry Field”, Custer personally led multiple cavalry charges by his Michigan cavalry, halting Stuart’s advance and preventing the Confederate cavalry from attacking the Union center from the rear.
Custer went on to lead in a multitude of battles during the war, receiving various promotions and demotions, and was present for the Confederate surrender at Appomattox, by which
time he held the rank of brevete major general. It appears
to be around the time between 13 March 1865 when he was breveted major general in the Regular Army and 26 July 1866 when he was reverted to a permanent rank of Lieutenant Colonel that Custer signed this photograph.
This photograph which depicts a seated Custer in
uniform, with major general rank on his shoulders, bears
the stamp of Mathew Brady on the back, who operated a
portrait studio in New York. Another famous photograph of
Custer in the same uniform, cited as Brady’s work, is also listed
as having been taken in 1865. In the other photograph, Custer is wearing
the hat which he is holding in this example, but they were likely taken in the same session. Just above the photographer’s stamp on the back of this example, George Armstrong Custer has signed “GACuster/BTMjGnl”. The autograph matches other known examples of Custer’s signature.
Custer went on to serve in the Indian War’s in various roles, eventually culminating in the most defining event of his career, as well as one of the most polarizing events in U.S. military history, the Battle of Little Bighorn. At the Battle of Little Bighorn Custer and his entire command were annihilated by Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne forces, cementing his divisive legacy forever.
CONDITION: Very fine, showing a distinct image with a few scattered light stains and some very light edge wear. The back of the print shows some adhesive residue around the edges and minimal fading or wear to both the signature and the photographer’s stamp. A rare chance to own the signature of one of the most well known generals in American military history, George Armstrong Custer. Provenance: Mike Medhurst, George S. Lewis Jr.
Estimate: 7,500 - 12,000
LOT 139
U.S. Cavalry Model Colt Single Action Army Revolver - Serial no. 114124, 45 Long Colt cal.,
7 1/2 inch round bbl., blue/casehardened finish, walnut grips. This revolver falls within the range for
the series of revolvers inspected by Captain Frank Heath (111656-116931) noted on page 77 of “Colt Cavalry and Artillery Revolvers...a Continuing Study” by Kopec and Fenn where the author’s note that the “G” markings are believed to stand for “Government” and that the ninth government contact for Colt Single Action Army revolvers was dated August 11, 1884, and called for 2,000 revolvers. They
were manufactured between August 11, 1884, through January 31, 1885. The tenth contract, again for 2,000 revolvers, was signed on
June 22, 1885. Many of the revolvers in this range are known to have been issued to the New York Militia. This revolver was manufactured in 1885 and remains
in its original “Cavalry Model” configuration. The 7 1/2 inch long barrel has a blade front sight, “COLT’S PT. F. A. MFG Co HARTFORD CT. U.S.A.” marked on top, “P” and “D.F.C.” stamped on the bottom just ahead of the cylinder pin, and “C/G/J” and the matching partial serial number “4124” under the ejector housing. The ejector has the bulls-eye head. The cylinder has “P,”“D.F.C.,” and the matching partial serial number “4124” on the sides and “S” and “1” on the rear face. The frame has the three-line patent marking followed by “U.S” on the
left, an “S” above the firing pin hole, a “U” on the right side rear under the grip, and “D.F.C.” over the full serial number on the bottom. The loading gate has the assembly number “703.” The trigger guard and back strap have the full matching serial number and the noted “G” markings. The grip has a faint Frank
Heath oval cartouche under an unclear date (presumably 1885) on the left, an outline of a cartouche on the right (David F. Clark’s), and “D.F.C.” stamped to the right on the butt. No number is legible in the rear mortise of the grip, but all of the serial numbers on the metal components are matching.
CONDITION: Very good with 25% of the period refinished blue (particularly noticeable around the replaced front sight), some small pits and marks under the finish, traces of original case colors, small patches of moderate pitting on the ejector housing as well as the cylinder and frame, mostly smooth gray and brown patina on the balance, and moderate overall wear. The lightly sanded, reoiled grip is also
very good and has moderate edge and handling wear, some chipping at the lower edges, dents on the butt, and hand worn cartouches. Mechanically excellent.
Estimate: 4,000 - 6,000

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