DescriptionGeorge and Elizabeth Custer: An Important Unpublished Tintype Image Taken in Texas in 1865. This rare sixth plate photo is in beautiful condition, and depicts the two seated facing each other in a formal setting. Custer wears the uniform of a major general, the rank he achieved in March 1865. An image known to have been taken of him in New Orleans in July of that year shows him still sporting the long hair style for which he had become so well known during the Civil War. However, shortly thereafter he arrived at Hempstead, Texas, where he promptly had his hair cut short because he found the Texas heat unbearable. In this tintype image Libbie is wearing a Michigan Custer cavalry brigade medal upon her cravat. The first documented photo of her wearing the medal was taken on April 12, 1865, and she was photographed wearing it at various times through September 1866. Another unpublished tintype of the couple is known to have been taken at Hempstead, Texas on October 18, 1865, demonstrating that Libbie was with her husband in Texas at that time. Accordingly, it is more than reasonable to presume that this photo was taken there.
Also included with this lot is a second sixth plate tintype reportedly found together with the Custer image, depicting a group of men standing in front of a tent. The figures are small and the tintype is dark, so it is impossible to say whether one might be Custer. However the background terrain and vegetation are not inconsistent with a Texas locale.
Original Custer photos are obviously highly prized, especially when he is shown with his beloved wife. Increasing the importance of this image is the fact that it is in tintype form, always considered more valuable than in albumen form. It is housed in an ornate period frame made of a composition material covered with what appears to be original gilt paint. A special opportunity for an advanced collector of Custer images.
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