A 19th-century carbine that has been described as “a national treasure” because of its personal links to Gen. George Armstrong Custer and the Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle will go up for auction Saturday.
Expected sale price of the rifle? Somewhere between $250,000 and $500,000.
The rifle is from Custer’s personal collection of firearms, passed down through the family for generations.
But what makes it unique, said Fred Holabird of Holabird Western Americana Collections which is auctioning the gun, is that the 150-year-old Sharps carbine has its own fascinating story.
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 and killed to the last man at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
After the Washita River battle, Custer saw the carbine in a wagon full of artifacts 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 displayed on the rifle’s stock.
The pictograph and accompanying brass tacks 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.
Also for sale is an 1847 Colt Walker .44-caliber percussion revolver once owned by Texas Ranger Lamartine “Lamb” Sieker.
This gun is expected to sell for somewhere between $175,000 and $350,000.
Sieker, born in 1848 in Baltimore, died Nov. 13, 1914. He was Confederate veteran and Texas Ranger who joined Company D of the Texas Ranger Frontier Battalion in 1874. By 1881 he had become a lieutenant, and was promoted to captain in 1882.
His service involved directing operations against Indians, investigations of crimes as serious as murder, and dealing with Texas outlaws. From 1885 to 1893, and 1899 to 1905, he was Texas Ranger Quartermaster.
The auction, to be conducted live at Holabird’s Western Americana Collections in Reno, Nevada.
Those wishing to make bids online can do so through iCollector.com and Invaluable.com