DALLAS — A lock of blond hair that experts believe came from Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, the flamboyant officer who perished at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, was sold at auction Saturday for $12,500.
Heritage Auctions said the lock came from the collection of a man who spent decades amassing artifacts related to the battle in what is now Montana between federal troops led by Custer and Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne warriors. Custer's troops were quickly overwhelmed in what became known as Custer's Last Stand.
Glen Swanson, a 78-year-old retired filmmaker, says he's spent about 40 years amassing the items and put them up for auction.
The auction includes 261 items, among them a rifle the auction house says was used during the battle and other weapons, photographs and American Indian art.
Steve Lansdale, spokesman for Heritage Auctions, said the selling price for the hair was more than six times the pre-auction estimate of $2,000.
According to the description provided by the auction house, Custer is believed to have provided the lock of hair to his wife Elizabeth after Custer's camp was overrun at the 1864 Civil War Battle of Trevilian Station in Virginia. She had written him asking that following his next trip to the barber, Custer should save the hair and send it to her. Years later, the lock was found in a large leather writing pouch and given to Swanson. Custer was known for his long blond hair.