DescriptionGeorge Armstrong Custer: His Personal Monogrammed Lap Desk. This well-used desk may have accompanied Custer on a number of military campaigns. It descended through the family of "Captain Jack" Crawford, a famous figure of the Old West who became Chief of Scouts for the U.S. Army. According to family tradition, it was presented to Crawford, along with a pearl-handled revolver, by Elizabeth Custer in appreciation of an ode to Custer written by Crawford.
Crawford, known as the "Poet Scout of the Black Hills," published one of the first such tributes after Custer's death. He was second in command of scouts during Crook's campaign, and succeeded Cody as Chief of Scouts in August, 1876. An enthusiastic, if not terribly gifted, poet, Crawford was a great admirer of Custer and one of the founders of Custer City, Dakota Territory. Elizabeth Custer was known to bestow items which had belonged to her husband on friends and admirers, and this gift to Crawford was much in character.
Crawford's grand-daughter, Irene Rockhart Shortz, loaned this desk and fourteen other items that had belonged to Captain Jack to an exhibit at the Fort Bliss Museum in El Paso, Texas. A copy of the receipt for those items is included with the lot. Also included is a family genealogy tracing the descent of the desk and gun through the family to Charles Mandeville, who in 1988 sold the pieces to firearms dealer John Gangel. Gangel then sold the desk to Western dealer Brad Witherell, who subsequently sold it to the present consignor.
The walnut desk has what is clearly an original brass plate reading "G. A. C." inset into the lid. It is in very good condition, displaying good indications of longtime use. One brass strip is missing from the front, as shown in the photo, but could be easily restored. Dimensions of closed desk: 13.5" x 9" x 6".
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