Battle of Little Bighorn rifle auctions for $272,000

A Native American rifle from the Battle of Little Bighorn has sold for $272,250 in Arizona.

The 1874 Sharps rifle is the first forensically proven to have been used at the infamous 1876 battle that witnessed General Custer's futile "last stand".

Little Bighorn rifle

Fired from two separate Native American positions

Discovered by a local farmer seven years after the battle, it passed through several generations of his family before arriving at Brian Lebel's High Noon Show and Auction on January 21.

Harmon and Scott explain in their 1988 Man at Arms article that the rifle "was found southeast of Lt. James Calhoun’s position… There is no doubt this location is an Indian position."

They add that the archaeological evidence "indicates this particular .50-70 firearm was used in two different Indian positions during the fighting around Calhoun Hill.”

The auction house adds that the firearm's condition is "consistent with a rifle that was exposed to the dry, arid weather of the Montana prairie".

Adding to the value was the rarity of antique Sharps rifles. They sell for up to $20,000 even without a famous connection.

Items from the Battle of the Greasy Grass (as it was known to the victors) seldom come up for sale. The Native Americans stripped the battlefield of anything of value. It ensures that those pieces which do emerge achieve large sums.

The only remaining US flag from the battle sold for $2.2m in 2010.

A saddle created by famed San Francisco manufacturer Keyston Bros for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition also sold well at the January 21 auction, achieving $121,000.

A beaded necklace worn by Native American warrior Geronimo made $13,310.

Have you seen the rare Geronimo artefact you can own today at Paul Fraser Collectibles?

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