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George Armstrong Custer: One of the Most Important Original From-Life Photographic Images Ever to Come to Market. This impressive large half-plate ambrotype was taken in or around September 1863 by William Frank Browne. Custer wears a gaudy uniform of a brigadier general, a rank to which he had been promoted in June. Knowing what has been written of Custer's personality, one cannot help wonder whether the similarity to Napoleon's most famous pose, with one hand tucked into his jacket, was intentional.

Two photographic images survive from that session, nearly identical, but differing in detail. The other example, now in the collection of the National Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, shows more of Custer's right hand and less of his left. It is interesting to note that the Smithsonian's example is rather badly cracked, but was deemed worthy of acquisition in that flawed state. (See the website presentation of this lot to view that example.)

The present example does exhibit some oxidation around the perimeter and across the bottom. However, as the catalog photo shows, Custer's image is strong and clear. The ambrotype measures 4.125" x 5.375" and is housed in a worn leather case with separated cover.

It is accompanied by a 1980 letter from one of the leading dealers in the western field stating that he had obtained the ambrotype directly from Brice Custer. A copy of D. Mark Katz's book, Custer in Photographs, from which our website image of the Smithsonian's example is taken, is being sold with this lot.

Service and Handling Description: Miscellaneous Collectibles, Large (view shipping information)

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Auction Dates
December, 2012
11th-12th Tuesday-Wednesday
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 8
Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
Page Views: 5,795

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