Custer multimedia promotional campaign

Client: Chris Kortlander

A multimedia campaign for the Elizabeth Bacon Custer Manuscript Collection auction.

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Chris Kortlander hired Williams & Williams to auction his rare historical, Elizabeth Bacon Custer document collection. Elizabeth was a strong, bold woman. She was an avid writer, scrapbooker and supporter of her husband, General George Custer. She accompanied him, diligently documenting their travels, accomplishments, correspondences and the General’s war campaigns. The manuscript collection contains thousands of original letters, photos, travelogues, notes, scripts, period newspapers, stereoviews and more. It offers a rich history of the Western Frontier and the extraordinary personalities that shaped it. The bold, modern persona of Elizabeth inspired a design that celebrates a rich and exciting history.

A brochure was mailed to high-net worth individuals (John Malone, Ted Turner, and Michael Eisner), production companies, museums and celebrities. To ensure the piece reached decision makers, I placed the brochure in a brown envelope, sealed with gold wax (stamped with a “C” for Custer) and then wrapped it in parchment paper tied with twine. The parcel was wildly successful, receiving positive reviews from museum directors and high-level influencers on the design, sophistication and effectiveness of the piece.

The natural shade of textured paper and brown tones made the brochure appear to be an old, historic document, adding a level of authenticity to the piece. Divided into categories, the brochure gives a brief overview of the breadth and depth of the contents and begins to show history, from the Custers’ point of view. The header ribbons’ straight and angular lines give the piece a modern feminine touch, a nod to Elizabeth’s personality. The header ribbons’ straight and angular lines give the piece a modern feminine touch, ca nod to Elizabeth’s personality. I used pull quotes of controversial passages to add drama and bring the personal account to life. As a follow-up piece, interested parties received a more in-depth summary of the collection, housed in a genuine leather, hand-sewn binder.

I also designed a postcard for a larger list of potential buyers as a more cost-effective mailer. The hand-written and arresting quote “For the love of heaven, burn this…”, pulled from a letter from one of Custers’ lovers, instantly grabs the recipients attention. The postcard lures them with a promise of “intrigue, romance and scandal, history according to the Custers.”


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