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Very Rare and stunningly beautiful, original ca1920, second printing of the famous, 1896 Anheuser-Busch (makers of Budweiser Beer) Chromolithograph Point of Sale Advertising Sign titled "Custer's Last Fight". This fantastic Chromolithograph Advertising Print measures approx. 48” x 38” (including the original, gold gilt frame) - the image size is actually 42” x 32” and the Chromolithograph is printed on a coated, heavy weight paperboard stock.
The scene on this Chromolithograph is considered by most historians to be the depiction of the Battle of the Little Big Horn that most Americans (even to this day) believe to be the most accurate and historically correct rendering of the final moments of General George Armstrong Custer and the men of the 7th U.S. cavalry (even though the depiction is entirely inaccurate and a totally fabricated, artist's creation).
The Image depicts Custer and a handful of his men being overrun and slaughtered by an overwhelming hoard of Native American Warriors. Beneath the Image is a legend identifying the major figures depicted in the image as well as text that reads "Custer's Last Fight" / "Taken From the Artist's Sketches / The Original Painting by Cassilly Adams has been Presented to the Seventh U.S. Cavalry by Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis, Mo., U.S.A." / World's largest Brewery.
The Image is copyright March 30, 1896 by Adolphus Busch and is unsigned by the lithographer thus establishing it as a second printing (the first printing WAS signed by the lithographer - the Milwaukee Lithographing Co. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin).
The history of this important depiction of the battle of the Little Bighorn is well documented. In 1876 Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and 210 of his men are killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. That same year, the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association begins production of Budweiser beer in the United States. In 1884 Cassilly Adams paints the first version of "Custer's Last Fight," measuring 16 feet 5 inches by 9 feet 6 inches on a wagon canvas for a traveling exhibit. Four years later Adolphus Busch conceives of an advertising campaign based on the Battle of the Little Bighorn. He purchases Adams' Custer painting, but is unsure whether it is right for his planned ad campaign. In 1889 Busch employs the Milwaukee Lithographing Co. to make prints of Adams' painting. F. Otto Becker, an employee of the lithographer, is hired by Busch to make a master painting of "Custer's Last Fight," from the which the famous advertising lithograph would be created. Busch pays for the painting but never takes possession of it and it remains in Becker's hands. In 1895 Anheuser-Busch makes a gift of the Adams painting to the 7th Cavalry during a ceremony at Fort Riley, Kan. The painting was moved to Fort Grant, Ariz., briefly and then put in storage.
In 1896 the Milwaukee Lithographing Co. uses the Becker painting to create lithographic plates, but must first cut it into eight sections so that a number of artists can make the intricate color plates at the same time. Shortly thereafter, lithographic reproduction begins. The print contains a border advertisement for Anheuser-Busch the name used by the Company beginning in 1919 - this Lithograph was produced shortly after the Brewery name was changed. This extremely popular Lithograph was distributed to saloons, bars and restaurants across the nation.
This outstanding and important, ca1920 edition of the 1896 Anheuser-Busch Chromolithograph of "Custer's Last Fight" is in very good to excellent condition. The overall surface is very well preserved without the typically encountered staining and excessive surface darkening. The Image area is nearly 100% intact and without flaw except for a short (1" long) and thin surface blemish in the area of the sky which has been professionally retouched. There are some spots in the legend area at the bottom of the Lithograph that are darkened but other than these border area spots, the Print is exceptionally well preserved. Overall this is an exceptionally well preserved example of this rare and historically important Advertising Piece and it displays beautifully.
An outstanding and important, ca1920 edition of the 1896 Anheuser-Busch Chromolithographed Advertising Image of the Battle of the Little Bighorn titled “Custer’s Last Fight” and a fantastic addition to any collection!!
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