Billy the Kid memorabilia: 'Why it's your turn to hunt down the Wild West outlaw'

Whether it's the white suit worn by John Lennon on the cover of The Beatles' Abbey Road LP or the only unhinged Black Empress stamp in existence... These are just two one-of-a-kind collectibles to have appeared on the market in recent times - and now another has emerged.

A piece of news landed on my desk this morning, about a very unique collectible that has cropped up at a trade fair in Denver, Colorado, US. This piece is historic, definitely one-of-a-kind and carries a pre-sale estimate of $300,000-400,000.

I'm talking about what is described as the one-and-only authenticated photograph of Billy the Kid - today regarded as the outlaw who became the prototype of the American western gunslinger before his death. He was hunted down and shot by Sheriff Pat Garrett, aged just 21.


Outlaw Billy the Kid's notoriety lives
on in the collectibles markets

This tintype image, often referred to as the "Upham tintype" was captured

130 years ago when Billy the Kid had his "picture made" in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. But why does this photograph carry such a high value? Well, let me show you...

Ongoing legacy

The Kid couldn't have known when he was having it taken, but this photo is today one of the most recognisable images of the American West. It is a bona fide piece of history: studied, copied, scrutinised, portrayed in films, re-imagined, and immortalised in history and culture.

For a long time it was thought that this image proved that The Kid was, in accordance with his nickname, the "Left Handed Gun" - although historians have since learned otherwise. Elsewhere, the image has inspired films of The Kid's life starring Hollywood legends Paul Newman, Kris Kristofferson and others.

Good provenance and rarity

Clearly this item has quality, but what about its provenance? According to the seller, the tintype descended through one family and has never before been offered for public sale. And, as I said, this item is definitely one-of-a-kind.

A strong market


Lennon's handwritten Customs
Declaration - another valued
one of a kind autograph

Brian Lebel's 22nd Annual Old West Show & Auction is taking place in Denver, Colorado - perhaps the world's finest trade fair for Wild West dealers and collectors. Hundreds of enthusiasts and potential buyers will once again be 'hunting' Billy the Kid on June 25.

What this means for you...

The above criteria will see the Billy the Kid tintype bring a six-figure sum in June. But the above tips can also be applied by you, to find your next 'most treasured collectible' - whatever your area of interest or budget.

I've had the pleasure of hunting down a few collectibles of a similar calibre myself in recent times , including the only Victoria Cross available in the world today, and an autographed customs declaration from John Lennon's last-ever holiday - both of which you can presently buy from Paul Fraser Collectibles.

Better still, the markets are constantly throwing-up similar one-of-a-kind pieces. You can bet that plenty more examples will emerge in 2011. If have the passion to 'hunt your own Billy the Kid', you could soon find your way on the path to pleasure and profit.

All the best, until next week





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