Billy the Kid TintypeFrom Junk Shop to Millions

Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid leans on croquet mallot.

Randy Guijarro collects junk. In 2010 while sorting through a pile of images at a Fresno, CA junk shop, Randy struck gold. He paid $2 for what has been authenticated as the second known photo of the infamous outlaw Billy the Kid.

The tintype –a photograph made by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer and used as the support for the photographic emulsion– dates to 1878, and shows Billy the Kid with members of his gang the Regulators, and other family and friends. It was apparently taken after a wedding, and Billy and his gang can be seen playing croquet. The image has been verified by Kagin’s inc, who is also handling its sale. Kagin’s has appraised the photo’s value at $5 million. The only other confirmed photo of Billy the Kid sold in 2011 for $2.3 million.

Mr. Guijarro told KSEE in August that the purchase was a last-minute decision. “I had just a couple of bucks left, and I found three photographs I liked, and of the three, the oldest tintype, I actually kind of chucked it back in the box.” He also indicated that a voice in his head urged him to keep it. So he did.

National Geographic recently aired Billy the Kid: New Evidence. Narrated by Kevin Coster, The documentary chronicles the story of how Randy and his wife Linda gathered the evidence to authenticate his find. Here’s a Nat Geo article with a brief interview of Guijarro.

Speaking with The Guardian last week, Mr. Guijarro had this to say: “I hope this prompts others out there to look into trunks and attics because there are so many lost treasures out there.”

1n 1859 Billy the Kid –aka William Bonney– was born Henry McCarty in New York City. He rose to infamy as an American outlaw during the 1878 Lincoln County War. He was killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett in New Mexico in 1881.

For more on Randy Guijarro and his discovery check out this article.

Photos from Kagin’s.

About The Author

Graphic Design & Artist

I’m Ed Ward of Mental Ward Design, and I’m a graphic designer, art director, and production artist. I specialize in image manipulation and graphic design using Photoshop, but I don't stop there. I hold a BFA degree from Rutgers University and have years of experience as a Graphic Designer, Marketing Manager, Art Director and Director of Advertising for companies in the Entertainment, Motorcycle, and Wholesale Travel industries. Since 1998 I’ve devoted my professional efforts to full-time independent graphic design.