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General "G. A. Custer" Signed Vignette Promissory Note One of Only Two Known Existent Being Signed by Custer

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GEORGE ARMSTRONG CUSTER (1839-1876). Historic Civil War Union Brigadier General at age 23, he fought in nearly every battle of the Army of the Potomac, including Gettysburg, later to be killed and his troops annihilated by Sioux and Cheyenne warriors led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse during the Battle of Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876.

November 1, 1870-Dated, Partially-Printed Document Signed, "G. A. Custer" in blue ink on this financial instrument, being One of Two Known, Kansas Promissory Notes Payable by Custer (also written as "I" on the document), "Three months" after date, to order of "John C. Howard.", Choice Very Fine to Extremely Fine.

This exceedingly rare Promissory Note is check size, measuring about 8.1” long x 3.35” tall (20.5 x 8.5 cm), printed on light blue bond period paper, at left displaying a vignette of a Seated Female representing “America / Liberty” with an American Flag and holding a Liberty Cap on a pole. The Note is fully completed, the handwritten portions are easily readable brown ink. It is made for "$400.00" being issued at "Topeka, Kansas" and dated "Nov 1, 1870" across the top line.

Signed, "G. A. Custer" on the signature line at lower right, in fully readable light blue ink. The signature is machine cut-cancelled as shown, the debt having been fully repaid by Custer. Custer's blue ink signature is clear and penned distinctly in his well known style. The Fourth line explains the terms, reading: "Four Hundred Dollars with interest at 10 per Cent / Value received (and noting), "This note is secured a Mortgage legally stamped." Below, in the bottom margin is written, (Number) "3664". The blank reverse is endorsed (as received) by John C. Howard, with oval blue ink "PAID" stamp. Overall, this Promissory Note is attractive having very light vertical quarter folds, some trivial edge tone and wear on the extremities.

Only Two Examples are Known of this extreme George Armstrong Custer financial rarity. This current example is wholly consistent in quality to the other “Custer” signed Promissory Note when they initially surfaced in the Spink/Smythe 2012 “Collector's Series” auction sale. They both trace their lineage back to "Libby" Custer (Mrs. Custer, who was childless), then through various family members and friends of the family, where it eventually found their way to Brooklyn, New York. They were included in an accounts ledger held within a "shoe box", a remarkable trove auctioned by Spink/Smythe. These documents refer back to George A. Custer speculating, buying lands located along the future railroad routes. Apparently, these Custer investments, being made from Topeka, reasonably have been concerning the Western expansion of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway further into the frontier, thus likely increasing the value of those lands for speculators.

The first example of this “G. A. Custer” Signed financial instrument sold for $6,200 in the initial 2012 Spink/Smythe so-called "Custer Shoe Box" auction. This virtually identical example is a great opportunity for collectors, as one of most interesting and historical “G. A. Custer” Signed items. A truly rare Promissory Note, the first we have cataloged, with ties to historic Americana, Militaria, and Western American expansion documents signed by “G. A. Custer”.

Provenance Ex: Spink/Smythe's Collector's Series Sale 316, May 22-23, 2013, lot 1124 (as displayed on the front cover of the auction catalog); From, "George Armstrong Custer Shoe Box Collection"; by descent via family friends and heirs; the niece of Margaret Flood; Margaret and Patrick Flood, who were caretakers for Libby Custer until her death in 1933 (age 91); to Elizabeth "Libby" Bacon Custer; our Current Consignor.
George Armstrong Custer attained the rank of Brevet Major General during the American Civil War. He was promoted to this Brevet rank on April 15, 1865, just a few days before the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House, effectively ended the Civil War.

It's important to note that while Custer held the brevet rank of Major General at the end of the Civil War, he reverted to his regular rank of Captain in the post-war downsizing of the army.

After the Civil War, during the Indian Wars on the Western frontier, Custer then held the regular army rank of lieutenant colonel. He is often referred to as "General Custer" due to his Civil War service and the brevet rank he held at the war's conclusion.

Custer gained fame as a Union cavalry commander during the Civil War. He played a significant role in several major battles, including the Battle of Gettysburg. After the Civil War, Custer continued his military career. In 1866, he was appointed lieutenant colonel in the newly formed 7th Cavalry Regiment.

Custer became involved in the Indian Wars on the Western frontier. In the 1870s, he participated in campaigns against Native American tribes, including the Sioux and Cheyenne.

In 1873, Custer led an expedition into the Black Hills of South Dakota, which was then considered sacred land by the Sioux. This expedition contributed to tensions that later led to the Battle of Little Bighorn.

One of the most infamous events associated with Custer occurred in 1876 at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Custer and his 7th Cavalry were defeated by a coalition of Native American tribes led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.

George Armstrong Custer died during the Battle of Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876. His death, along with the defeat of his troops, became a significant and controversial episode in American history.
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Estimate Range: $5,000 - $6,000
Early American
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