$30k signed portrait of Kit Carson goes under the hammer

Christopher 'Kit' Carson travelled to Santa Fe with a caravan aged 16 and became a fur trapper in the West of America aged around 20.

Based on this experience, he was chosen by John C Fremont to be the latter's guide during his legendary 1842-3 expeditions toward California. Fremont, who is remembered for being an especially strong voice against slavery, wrote about the treks, making Carson famous.

Carson also played a part on the Unionist side in the American Civil War.

Accompanying James H Carleton as part of the California column, he was a key part of the expedition including the minor skirmishes against confederates and greater ones against revolting Indians - though Carson viewed Carleton as too harsh on defeated Indians.

The rare carte-de-visite photograph on offer as part of the currently auctioning Floyd E Risvold collection in New York shows a stern-looking Carson seated. But the signature is informal: Kit Carson.

Guide and Unionist Civil War soldier Christopher Kit Carson
Guide and Unionist soldier Christopher 'Kit' Carson

Whilst known to his acquaintances as Kit, Carson almost always signed himself 'C. Carson', so this iis a significant rarity. It is accompanied by a copy of the book The Life and Adventures of Kit Carson by DC Peters.

This month has seen two signed photos by Carson's contemporary, President Abraham Lincoln sell, with a rare example in which he is standing fetching $103,000.

Collectors will be interested to know that the document promoting James H Carleton for his Civil War mission, signed by Lincoln, is currently available.


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