Beer In Ads #137: Anheuser-Busch’s Custer’s Last Fight

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Friday’s ad is the oldest piece of American breweriana known to exist. It was a poster created by Anheuser-Busch, who commissioned the original painting, Custer’s Last Fight, which was painted by Cassilly Adams in 1884. A lithograph was then prepared by F. Otto Becker in 1889. It was distributed as an advertising poster by Anheuser-Busch. It has since become one of the “most famous views of of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, referred by Indians as the Battle of Greasy Grass.”

Today is the anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Little Bighorn, which has become famous as Custer’s Last Stand. It began on June 25, 1876 and ended the following day.

Cassily_custers-last

According to one history website, Indian Wars — Wyoming Tales and Trails, “it is, however, best charitably described as fanciful. The Indians’ attire is in error; Custer’s hair is in error, he had it closely shorn before leaving Ft. Abraham Lincoln; he is wearing a red scarf; and, perhaps most importantly, the battle is being fought on the wrong side of the river.”

Cassily_custers-last-fight

As possibly the very first piece of breweriana, an original will set you back a pretty penny, at least from $1,699 to $2,250. One of the eBay sellers includes the following information about the lithograph:

Measures approx. 32 ” X 42″across Great colored lithograph depicting the grisly battle between General Custer’s troops and Indian warriors at Little Big Horn. Custer is featured at center waving a saber and dressed in fringed buckskin. The remaining cavalry officers (except for his brother Tom) are dressed in military uniform. Indians are armed with scalping knives, tomahawks, clubs, spears and rifles. Dead of both parties appear in foreground, with several being identified in the bottom margin as Courier from Sitting Bull, Squaw Killing wounded, Rain In the face and the Sioux Warrior who killed Custer. Custer’s medals and banners are in lower left margin. Mounted Indian poses beside a monument in lower right margin. In the small margin directly under the picture it is marked Entered According To Act Of Congress By Adolphus Busch march 30th 1896 In The office of The Librarian Of Congress At Washington, D.C. In the lower center portion it is marked The Original Painting has been Presented to the Seventh Regiment U.S. Cavalry By Anheuser Busch Brewing Association, St. Louis, Mo. U.S.A.

Comments

  1. beerman49 says

    That reminds me of a joke that I heard in the late 60′s about a commissioned mural on Custer’s Last Stand. At its unveiling, the historical society LOL’s (little old ladies) were aghast at seeing haloed catfish in the air above the river, & Indian couples copulating on the riverbank, to which the artist replied, “Imagine Custer saying to his soldiers after what they saw on arrival: ‘Holy jumping catfish, look at all those f’ing Indians!’ “

  2. Chris says

    I have both this print and “attack on the overland stage” which is another great one. Wasn’t aware of the value.

    • Rachel says

      I also own “attack on the overland stage” im confused every site I look at say its a cardboard copy? But mine looks and feels just like a canvas ? any Ideas.

        • says

          I have a Custer’s Last Fight…Anheuser Bush Brewing Association in excellent condition. It is framed in a gold leaf frame. I am selling a few of my paintings/lithographs. If you are interested I can be reached at
          406–248-2652 in Billings, Montana.
          Zack Belcher
          541 Avenue C
          Billings, Montana 59102

  3. carl curtis says

    I saw some comments but thjere are hundres of paper prints and few genuine lithograph copies, prints are not worth much but if you could find a origional copy of the first lithograph it would be worth something.The origional oil painting burned, in the seventh calvery barracks.

  4. M wolfe says

    Does anyone know if this original print is on carboard type material? I have it too but even the frame is cardboard. Ist that correct? I am trying to figure out the value as it was damaged in our recent flooding.

    • J.D. Mayer says

      M. Wolf: I had an original from a beer hall when I was a young boy, and yes, the print is on cardboard and the frame is cardboard as well. The whole print (including the frame) was obviously printed on one flat sheet of high grade hard cardboard and the frame was “pushed out” of the print edges and formed the raised frame around the print.
      I would like to have another one for “old times sake” but don’t think I can afford it.

      • Dick Vosniak says

        J D Mayer – I have beautiful copy in perfect condition. it is in a wood frame (appears to be oak). Has a brass pla

      • Dick Vosniak says

        J D Mayer – I have beautiful copy in perfect condition. It is in a wood frame (appears to be oak). Has a brass plaque at the bottom mentioning AB brewing co and August A Bucsh and year 1952. Also have Attack on the Overland Stage in wood frame.If you or anyone is interested, they are both for sale. Thanx DV

  5. Blair Carmichael says

    The Custer Battlefield museum in Garry Owen, Montana has a limited edition reprint that I had framed and on display in my home.
    I have loved this image ever since I saw it in a bar in St. Joseph, Missouri when I was a child.

  6. doug says

    i have this painting except no logo on the bottom. it is 25×37. does anyone know if not having the logo on the bottom means anything?

  7. greg degan says

    I also have a framed print that came out of a bar in petersburg va. It does not have writing on it. At one time the frame had a brass tag with the prints name..let me know wut u find out

    • Weldon says

      I also have the one with no ad at the bottom. Size 24×37,
      wood frame 29 5/8 x 42 5/8.
      Sign at bottom says “CUSTER’S LAST FIGHT” but is
      not brass, appears to be a fibre or hard cardboard.
      Very old but vivid colors, probably printed on paper by litho,
      laminated to cardboard. Need more info on origin. Thanks.

  8. says

    I have the Ones with the card board frame + 1 in a regular frame that I bought @ a VFW for 5 bucks 20 something years ago.so what are they Worth ,ball park? would be nice to make some bucks.

    • Waldo says

      Hi Michelle,

      I recently had one of these in cardboard (all in one piece) which I bought for $65.00 still in shrink wrap. You can probably see 1952 copyright date. I am interested in one
      in a frame. Please reply. I Need history if nothing else.

      Thanks, Waldo.

  9. Don says

    Does anyone know where I might buy a copy or reproduction of this? Saw one as a kid, and always admired it. Would sure like to have one for my home..

    • Mike Peters says

      Hi,Do you know where I might beable to buy one of the Last Stand too?My grandpa had one in his bar in Lodi,Calif in the 60′s and I would always look at it and study it when I was a kid.Let me know would love to buy one.Thanks Mike Peters

      • Vice Admiral Mickey May says

        Use the following Internet link: http://www.custermuseum.org/store/index.php?c=2

        There you will find Edward Samuel Paxson’s “Custer’s Last Stand” Print for $29.95. Just click on “Prints”in upper left hand box of the Custer Battlefield Museum in Garryown, MT.
        Do it quick as there is a rumor that store will close in August. Hope that helps.

      • mike and deb says

        we have one it is a 1952 Anheuser Busch #68 done by O. Becker
        in cardboard . It was put out By August A Busch Jr. can read front and back both hubbys dad bought it new in 1952 its 28 x42

  10. Rex says

    I have an original lithograph in what appears to be an original frame! Any idea on what current value would be? It was appraised in 1985 for $12,000, papers are in hand!

    “Custer’s Last Fight”
    Measures approx. 32 ” X 42″across Great colored lithograph depicting the grisly battle between General Custer’s troops and Indian warriors at Little Big Horn. Custer is featured at center waving a saber and dressed in fringed buckskin. The remaining cavalry officers (except for his brother Tom) are dressed in military uniform. Indians are armed with scalping knives, tomahawks, clubs, spears and rifles. Dead of both parties appear in foreground, with several being identified in the bottom margin as Courier from Sitting Bull, Squaw Killing wounded, Rain In the face and the Sioux Warrior who killed Custer. Custer’s medals and banners are in lower left margin. Mounted Indian poses beside a monument in lower right margin. In the small margin directly under the picture it is marked Entered According To Act Of Congress By Adolphus Busch march 30th 1896 In The office of The Librarian Of Congress At Washington, D.C.

  11. AL says

    I have a Custer’s Last Fight lithograph with wood frame. It lools more like the second one from the top on this page. Is there anyone who can appraise mine and tell me the best place to sell it. I can send pics. Your reply is appreciated.

  12. dale leesmann says

    i have a painting on cavas of custers last stand, gold color wood frame also has a light in center top. you can see O Becker lower right hand corner,anyone know what it could be worth thanks

  13. Becky says

    I have the 1998 reproduction of Custer Last fight the the Bewer gave out at there convention frame is a awesome rustic frame and like to sell… it anyone know what it is worth and would like to buy it…

  14. Kathie says

    Well, I’m sort of confused. We have a copy (?), that I think is old, of this Anheuser Busch Brewing Assoc. poster. I find no copywright date on it, on its face. Lower left-hand corner says, “0-448-59249-9 Manufactured in the U.S.A. Dover Publications, Inc.” . . . with an address in Mineola, NY.

    What can you tell me about that?

    • Susan says

      Hey, I purchased one of these today at an estate sale…we’re you able to find out how much yours is worth? Thanks!

  15. says

    I am searching for an old Anheuser Busch Brewing Poster, which feature members of the 24th Infantry Regiment Combat Team (Buffalo-Soldiers) en-route to the front line during the early days of the Korean war. 1950.

  16. Ron Rice says

    Have a friend who has a poster measuring 29 1/2 by 31. Finish appears glossy…….any idea what it may be; copy, reproduction, print etc…

  17. Nick Blake says

    I have one that is definently on canvas and definitely original. It is in a gold colored wood frame. 24×37″ plus frame.There is a small caption on the back although the paper is falling apart. It reads something like “reproductions of this famous painting have been created by the Simmons-Sisler company St.Louis masters of colour craftsmanship. This picture has been treated with high gloss varnish. To preserve this picture and keep it clean, wipe it thouroughly with a dry rag periodically. Anheuser-Busch inc. St Louis, MO”

    How much is it worth and who would like to buy it?

  18. Dewey says

    I have an original 1896 lithograph of Custers Last Fight and am willing to sell it. It is in wonderful condition. My price is $2,500 firm. Very mix, no disappointments.

  19. Ken says

    I got one and i know of one in the small Alabama town i live in. this other person was offer $100,000.00 turn it down and lock it in the bank safe. this was round 1995

  20. A.J. says

    Mine is in a wood frame witht metal Logo for Budwieser.
    This famous painting has been reproduced through the courtesy of
    ANHEUSER-BUSCH, INC. ands MR. AUGUST A. BUSCH, JR. Saint Louis, Missouri
    For the first time…
    Special reproductions of this picture may be purchased from Simmons-
    Sisler Co.. Inc., 4127 Forest Park Blvd., St. Louis 8, Mo. Simmons- sisler Co., Inc. have been granted the exclusive right to reproduce and sell copies of this painting to individuals for personal use.

    This Picture treated with high gloss varnish. To Preserve this Picture and keep it clean, wipe thoroughly with dry rag periodically
    Anheuser-Busch, Inc.
    St. Louis, Missouri

    Adler Frames CH1-7136

  21. jack says

    I had one of the AB lithographs mounted on canvas of custers last stand as well as another with a stagecoach in it .Unfortunately they were damaged. One must have fallen on something because it has holes in it. The other was scratched and you can see the canvas it is laminated on. I remember looking at these forever as a child, I just loved them. I know they are at least 65 yrs old . If I still have them, does anyone know if they can be repaired? With current DR. bills it would be great if it were reasonably priced too. thanks Jack

  22. CARY says

    I had the big one bought about 30 years ago..it was framed in a wooden frame thas was carved.. the carving looked like hopps’
    anyone ever hear of that….30 years ago it cost me appox 500.00
    should i cry now……( northrige earth quake)

  23. Paul Overgaard says

    I have a Custer’s Last Fight by artist O. Becker laminated on canvas with brass plate. There are some cracks in laminate. Wood frame is in good condition. It came from a Saskatchewan bar in Canada. Any offers?

  24. Leslie says

    Where can one get one of these appraised? I found one at an antique store and it looks really old in an old frame and wood back. It doesn’t have the Busch logo or any of that at the bottom so I am hoping it might be an original lithograph. Thanks.
    Leslie

  25. Phil says

    I used to visit my Grandpa in the 1940s (he died in 1949). He had one hanging over the bar in his home. Some twenty years later I asked my Grandma if she still had it as I remembered how impressed I was as a kid staring at that while eating the olives from my folk’s martinis (she had moved into a smaller home). She had it and gave it to me. I think it is the original. It is mounted in a carved wooden frame that measures about 36″x 48″. The picture itself is slightly bowed so it fits loose in the frame. Anyone know who could restore it (i.e., getting to set flat to sit properly in the frame). Thanks

    Phil.

    • David Knies says

      I have a Custer Last Fight Litho with original wood frame, very cool to look at, has condition issues and is fair to good condition. It came out of a old saloon here in Montana,actually not all that far where that battle took place.It is still talked about here as though it was not long ago, the battlefield is a strange place to visit. Back to the print, it is aprox 32×42 it has a beautiful gold colored frame with much detail on it , make me an offer i cant refuse, it is not museum quality and looks like it came out of a saloon in Montana.It is a conversation piece for any home or office. thanks Dave

    • Scott says

      I have a print of Custer’s last fight in its original carved frame. Not sure if your still interested in one. If you are give me a shout back.

  26. steve loughary says

    I have an original litho custers last fight print mounted in gilt gesso frame with original glass said to have been located originally in oldest bar in fall city nebraska . I purchased 30 some years ago. Had appraised 25 years ago with rest of antiques for insurance coverage. appraiser felt he was not qualified to put a current value on this item. i am thinking on selling as wife thinks is too graphic to display in house we are remodeling for retirement. More than anything I would like to get it appraised for the true current market value . thanks for any information, overall size with frame 48×38

  27. shakira brooks says

    i also have a painting of custers last fight, mine is 26×20 on a piece of wood not in a frame and looks as if it has been burned

  28. Becky Zimmer says

    CUSTER’S LAST FIGHT by Otto Becker.
    One of the most famous pictures in America,
    thanks to widespread promotion by Anheuser-Busch
    42 3/8 x 33 in./107.6 x 84 cm
    This a 1998 San Franisco distributions convention lithro in excellent condition. Framed in an awesome rustic frame offset this wonderful art

  29. DARRYL SMITH says

    I BELIEVE I HAVE AN ORIGINAL. I THINK IT IS ONE OF THE 150,000 MADE BY ANHEUSER BUSCH IN 1896 . FROM THE MEASUREMENTS, WORDING, DATE OF PRINT, AGEING, I BELIEVE THIS TO BE ORIGINAL. WOULD LKE TO GET AN APPRAISAL.

  30. Jon says

    I have a cardboard production of one of these that was in my grandfather’s tavern. There is no advertising below it.
    He owned the tavern in the early 1940′s so it is at least 70 years old.
    It is in a small wooden frame.
    I am hoping to get some more information on it.

  31. stewart says

    i have a cardboard production of custers last stand by o.becker exactly the same one in uc berkeley bancroft library dont know the value the painting is 24 by 37 inches it came the states somewhere by a tourist who gave it to my late dad about 50 years ago in laronge saskatchewan

  32. John Fratangelo says

    As small boys growing up in The Bronx, N.Y. Me and my cousin would
    pass by the picture display of Custer’s Last Stand, in a casement window
    outside of an Italian restaurant. We would stop and stare at it, pointing
    to the different graphics that impressed boys at the ages of 8. The reason this picture means so much to me is that My cousin Tony and I both went to
    Viet Nam at the age of 19. He was killed in action and I brought his remains
    back home to his heart broken family. I stood guard by his coffin for the entire wake. I returned to Nam and I was shot and came home.
    Who ever can give me data, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you and God Bless!

  33. Carl Curtis says

    Hi folks I have an original in original wood frame that I have owned since 1979 and I believe that it was one of the original lithograph copies that was given to Busch dealers ans I bought it from a large night club . if you are interested I will let it go for around >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>make me an offer cd30success@yahoo.com

  34. susan blanchard says

    I have an original Custers Last Stand. Gold frame with plaque. My grandfather had it as a very young boy. Also Overland Stage. Must go to good home with a fair offer.

  35. says

    This original painting of Custer’s Last Fight, has been in our family for over 80 years and has been kept in immaculate condition, given the time that’s passed. It was appraised in 1980 for $2500, but that paperwork was lost during a move to the west coast. If you’re interested in purchasing it, I will consider any serious offer. Please see the web site link for pics or here:

    http://imgur.com/a/IzJSD#0

    Keep in mind these were taken by a cell phone camera, and certainly don’t provide the justice it deserves. Feel free to contact me with any questions.

  36. Sandy says

    I have one of the original oil on canvas in the original frame. The oil paintings were commissioned by Anheiser Busch to two artist who painted around 300 or so originals. The originals are valuable, but the prints are not. The photo here on this blog is a print and you can tell this because of the writing at the bottom of the print. The oil paintings do not have that and are signed by the artist.

  37. Scott says

    I have a copy of Custers Last Fight as well as Attack on the Overland Stage (which was also used in a magazine print ad).

    Happened to be watching the original Glen Ford ’3:10 to Yuma’ the other night and it caught my eye, Custers Last Fight is the picture in the background during the bar scene. Shown from a couple angles during the scene.

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