One is of the frontiersman Christopher ‘Kit’ Carson, seen in the uniform of a brigadier general towards the end of his career. The signature as ‘Kit’ is significant as the nickname was generally used only among his friends. A letter bearing Carson’s signature was also part of a lot sold at $42,000 (£32,810) at the auction on October 23.
Two examples of a 1865 portrait of George Custer were offered in the sale. One was inscribed “Truly your friend GA Custer Bvt Maj Genl” – that last line indicating a promotion received in the wake of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox during the American Civil War – and it sold at $8250 (£6445). Custer’s famous ‘Last Stand’ and death at the Battle of Little Big Horn was in 1876.
Captioned “Our Willie” by his mother, a portrait of the third son of Abraham and Mary Lincoln, given by the latter to Senator Cassius M Clay of Kentucky, sold at $24,000 (£18,750).
Willie was his father’s favourite and both he and his wife were devastated by their son’s death in 1862 from typhoid fever. The president would often lock himself in his room to mourn in private and Mary Lincoln could not even bring herself to attend the funeral.
In a 2002 Christie’s New York sale of the great Malcolm Forbes collection of American historical documents it had been part of a lot that also included Clay’s portraits of Abe and Mary and sold for $8000.