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Is $2 junk shop photo of Billy the Kid worth millions?


Joe Jones

A coin dealer in California has authenticated a grainy photograph of legendary gunman Billy the Kid with members of his gang which could be worth up to $5m (£3.3m).

The faded tintype image was among a pile of photos inside a cardboard box at a junk shop in Fresno, unearthed by a collector in 2010.

Randy Guijarro paid $2 (£1.30) for the image, which is now estimated to be worth millions of dollars. The only other confirmed photo of Billy the Kid, from 1880, sold for $2.3m (£1.5m) in 2011.

The photo was authenticated by a San Francisco-based Americana company, Kagin’s, which identified Billy the Kid along with several members of the Regulators, as well as friends and family. It was taken after a wedding in the summer of 1878, just a month after the gang took part in the brutal Lincoln County war.

Dr Donald Kagin, president of Kagin's coin dealership in San Francisco, said: "This iconic, lively and fun artefact is history in your hand - a snapshot of the lifestyle of one of the most notorious figures of the Wild West.

"The historical importance of a photograph of Billy the Kid alongside known members of his gang and prominent Lincoln County citizens is incalculable - this is perhaps the single most compelling piece of Western Americana that we have ever seen."

Photograph-of-Billy-the-kid.jpg

David McCarthy, senior numismatist at the dealer, said: "When we first saw the photograph, we were understandably sceptical - an original Billy the Kid photo is the Holy Grail of Western Americana.

"We had to be certain that we could answer and verify where, when, how and why this photograph was taken.

"Simple resemblance is not enough in a case like this - a team of experts had to be assembled to address each and every detail in the photo to ensure that nothing was out of place.

"After more than a year of methodical study including my own inspection of the site, there is now overwhelming evidence of the image's authenticity."

The picture has been appraised and insured for $5m and will be the subject of a two-hour documentary on the National Geographic Channel this Sunday - Kagin's will be handling the sale.

Billy the Kid's real name was Henry McCarty but he was better known as William H Bonney. He was killed aged 21 in 1881 by sheriff Pat Garrett.

Tintypes are made by creating a direct positive on a thin metal sheet covered with a dark lacquer or enamel.

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This is very interesting, I watched a video on Netflix about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - so I am all keen on anything relating to the subject of cowboys/bandits etc.

I am not sure the pictures worth that amount but it is priceless.

Needs saving and keeping secure regardless.

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