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

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.

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.”

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.

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