Lot 135

Colt "Custer Avenger" 7th Cavalry SAA Revolver

Estimate: $40,000 - $70,000

Bid Increments

Price Bid Increment
$0 $5
$50 $10
$100 $25
$500 $50
$1,000 $100
$2,500 $250
$5,000 $500
$7,000 $1,000
This is an important and historic Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army U.S. Revolver serial number 17782 attributed to Troop “C” 7th Cavalry, known as the “Custer’s Avengers” and is fully inspected by W.W. Johnson, which is rare. The revolver has been examined by Wendell Grangaard from The Guns of History, Inc., in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and was found to be marked in Lakota Togia language as follows: on both right and left grips “Hunkpapa-great-great coup” (illustration 1 and 2); Bear Cap Hunkpapa on the right and left sides of the action, bottom of the back strap and bottom of the left grip (see illustration 3 through 6); right grip “Bears Cap-Hunkpapa-great-coup” (illustration 7). Bears Cap was born in 1830 to Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux parents and is also known as Bonnet and Bers Head. He was boyhood friend to Sitting Bull and a member of his band as well as close with Sitting Bull’s mother, Her Holy Door. Wendall Grangaard met David Bald Eagle, White Bull’s grandson in the late 1960’s while working on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota. White Bull, his grandfather, was nephew of Sitting Bull and fought at Little Bighorn. He directly told the story of this piece. A special U.S. Commission meeting was held on October 17, 1878 at Fort Walsh in Canadian Territories to persuade Sitting Bull to surrender. In attendance included Sitting Bull and twenty chiefs of various Indian bands such as Bears Cap, Spotted Eagle, Flying Bird, Whirlwind Bear, Iron Dog, Crow King, and Little Knife. Other in attendance included Brigadier General Alfred H. Terry, The Honorable A.G. Lawrence of Rhode Island, Brevet Lieutenant Colonel H.C. Corbin, Secretary Stenographer Jay Stone, Lieutenant Colonel James F. McLeod, Commissioner of the Northwest Mounted Police and Northwest Mounted Police Superintendent Walsh. A regiment of the 7th Cavalry under the command of Captain Own Hale was also present to guard the U.S. Government delegates. General Terry presented gifts to the Indian chiefs, but according to White Bull, Bear's Cap felt the gift was not special, and during the night, he slipped by the camp guards to steal a revolver from the 7th Cavalry camp. White Bull said Bear’s Cap was very proud of the revolver and the coup it represented. According to White Bull, Bear's Cap went with a small group of warriors led by Catch The Bear to take supplies to the area of the Little Missouri where Sitting Bull wanted his reservation established. They left a few days before Sitting Bull surrendered and according to White Bull, Bear's Cap had the barrel cut off his new revolver. As is noted this revolver’s barrel has been stretched to put it back to its original configuration. As noted by John A. Kopec and H. Sterling Fenn several documented Colts were issued to the 7th Cavalry as replacements for those lost at the Battle of the Little Bighorn with the last three being serial numbers 17561, 17586 and 17647. Number 17561 was listed at $27,500 and sold by Dan Morphy Auctions back in 2019 with the subsequent Kopec letter. Wendell Grangaard writes that this revolver, serial number 17782, is one of the Custer’s Avenger examples and the very one stolen and carried by Bear’s Cap as noted by the Lakota Togia markings. Included with the lot is the signed historic examination by Wendell Grangaard as well as the various illustrations, reference to the Kopec documentation and a copy of the Custer’s Avenger brought to auction. This is truly a fantastic and historic piece.
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