SOURCE: Holabird Western Americana Collections

April 13, 2016 15:32 ET

Custer Carbine, a National Treasure, Set for Auction

History of Renowned Firearm Pictographs Revealed for First Time

RENO, NV--(Marketwired - April 13, 2016) - A 19th-century carbine that has been described as "a national treasure" because of its personal links to Civil War General George Armstrong Custer as well as the great Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle, will be offered for sale during a live and online auction in May.

The carbine comes from Custer's personal collection of firearms. It was passed through the Custer family until it was presented to Dick Reyes, a well-known dealer/collector in Carson City, Nevada by Elsie Olander Custer.

Fred Holabird of Holabird Western Americana Collections, which is auctioning the gun, says the 150-year-old Sharps carbine is remarkable both because of its own story as well as the newly discovered historic significance of Native American pictographs on its stock.

Holabird says the rifle is attributed to Black Kettle, who was killed by Custer's troops in an 1868 massacre of a Cheyenne Village along the Washita River in Oklahoma. That was eight years before Custer and his 7th Calvary were overwhelmed at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

After the Washita River battle, Custer saw the carbine in a wagon full of artifacts that had been collected from the battleground and took it as a war trophy for himself. But Holabird learned even more last winter when the Custer Carbine was studied by a South Dakota scholar who has only recently unlocked the code that allows translation and interpretation of pictographs such as those carved into the stock.

Ongoing research with Native American experts in the field of pictography indicate that the pictographs and accompanying brass tacks in the stock serve a purpose beyond that of decoration. The pictographs not only show that the carbine was the property of Black Kettle, but also detail the chief's leadership in two societies of the Cheyenne tribe.

In addition to a national artifact such as this carbine, other Custer items with proven lineage, ancient Native American relics, three 20-ounce gold nuggets, and more offered during the Holabird Western Americana Collections auction not only provide a monetary offering of well over $1 million, but also provide an immeasurable value in the landscape of American history.

Of special interest in the sale are additional firearms including an 1847 Colt Walker once owned by a Texas Ranger, a presentation Remington rifle from inventor "Carbine" Williams, and an extremely rare Colt Peacemaker fount on the Custer Battlefield in 1933. Rounding out the collection is a refined selection of historic cowboy saddles and spurs, items from the mining camps of the West, and more than 600 mining spoons created from silver and copper.

The auction, to be conducted live at Holabird's Western Americana Collections and online through and, is scheduled for May 13 and 14.

About Us: Holabird Western Americana Collections, headquartered in Reno, Nev., meets the needs of Americana Collectors looking for rare and new-to-market collectibles. Led by acclaimed historian, author and auctioneer Fred Holabird, the company lists outstanding collectibles at all price points to meet the needs of collectors worldwide. Contact the office at (775) 851-1859.

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