Lot #2001
George A. Custer

George A. Custer
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Estimate: $0+

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George A. Custer

Imperial German Light Cavalry saber belonging to General George Armstrong Custer. The blade measures 33″ long with broad single fullers and floral scrolls and panoplies of arms etched on the blade. Blade is also engraved near the hilt “P.D.L.,” with the reverse engraved “Solingen.” Steel hilt of typical pattern with recurved quillon, single bar guard pierced for sword knot with langets and steel backstrap. Wire wrapped leather covered grip. Sword comes with correct pattern steel scabbard with iron mounts and drag.

In good condition. Blade showing a mottled light gray patina overall with scattered patches of fine corrosion present. Hilt shows a dark brown patina with a few spots of pitting on langets. Grip shows moderate wear with leather wrap showing minor losses and perforations. Most of the wire binding is tight. Scabbard shows mottled gray patina with a couple of small dents present. Saber has been beautifully framed along with two portraits of Custer and a descriptive plaque to an overall size of 42 x 22.

Accompanying the sword is a copy of a letter of provenance dated October 29, 1955, signed by Reed Dunbar, tracing ownership of the sword to Nevin J. Custer, brother of George Custer. Letter reads, in full: “I, Reed M. Dunbar…Monroe, Michigan, do hereby make the following statement regarding a curved sabre and scabbard formerly belonging to General George Armstrong Custer and given by his brother Nevin J. Custer to my father Addis E. Dunbar, who in turn gave it to me.

The grips are of wood covered with leather in which are deep parallel grooves wound with twisted copper-bronze wire. The metal parts of the hilt are of steel as is the bird’s head pommel. The knuckle-bow is of the form of a reverse P and is pierced for a sword knot near the pommel. A quillon with langets projects over the blade.

The steel scabbard is 34 inches long and one inch wide. There are carrying rings, one at a distance of 3 inches and the other at a distance of 11 inches from the throat. A steel drag is fastened to its tip. This curved sabre and scabbard was given by me to Dr. Lawrence A. Frost on October 22, 1955, for value received."

Provenance: George A. Custer Nevin J. Custer Addis E. Dunbar Reed M. Dunbar Dr. Lawrence A. Frost Collection Dr. Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence Collection

The provenance of this remarkable artifact is truly impeccable. Possession of this sword was first transferred to the 7th Cavalry commander's eldest brother, Nevin. A subsequent prior owner was Dr. Lawrence A. Frost, who developed an appreciation for the slain general in the late 1930s when he began to assemble a significant collection of Custer artifacts. Dr. Frost also published 13 books, most of them monographs about the cavalry commander. Most recently, this sword changed hands in 1997 when Dr. Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence consigned it to Butterfield and Butterfield for public auction. Oversized. RR Auction COA.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Rare Manuscript, Document & Autograph
  • Dates: May 24 - June 19