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Wanted: Dead or Alive. Reward: up to $1,000,000

Well, a tintype will do, in fact.

That is if you are in possession of the only authenticated photograph of the outlaw known to exist which is a 130-year-old tintype of Billy the Kid. This credit-card-sized tintype of William H. McCarty, alias William Bonney, alias Billy the Kid is widely regarded as the most important photograph of the American West. 

Extensively studied and documented, the photograph is nearly as famous as its infamous subject. It was taken around 1879, outside a saloon in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, when McCarty was barely out of his teens and already a budding cattle thief and jailbird. (Note the shabby clothes and goofy hat in the larger image.) The Kid gave it to his pal Dan Dedrick, and it's been in the family ever since. It's occasionally shown up in museum shows and has been featured in numerous books on the Kid, including one by Pat Garrett, the sheriff who gunned Billy down on July 14, 1881--130 years ago next month.

​The photo will be up for auction on June 24-26, with an anticipated sale price in the $300,000-$400,000 range, though some say it could fetch as much as $1million. The New York Times reported that there will be "armed guards" when the photo is previewed June 24, just in case some varmint in the crowd decides to turn outlaw!

Auction details can be found here. The closest cowboy I've come across is Woody (of Toy Story fame), and he ain't no outlaw.

 

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