Obscura Day 2017! Join our global celebration of exploration and discovery.
May 6

FOUND: A Tiny Photo of Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid, on the left (Photo: Kagin’s, Inc.)

Five years ago, Randy Guijarro spent just a couple of dollars on some old tintype photos he found in Fresno, California. When he looked at one of them under a magnifying glass, he was surprised—one of the men in the photo, leaning on a croquet mallet, looked an awful lot like Billy the Kid.

Now, Kagin’s, a California-based numismatics firm, has authenticated the picture. It is, the firm says, the second known image of the famous outlaw.

Billy the Kid lived in the second half of the 19th century. He worked as a ranch hand in the southwestern United States, developed a reputation as an able gun man, and ended up killing at least eight people. (Though, according to legend, it was more than 20.) He was part of a gang called the Regulators, and toward the end of his life, a price was put on his head. He was killed by a sheriff in 1881. 

The photo, though, shows a quieter scene—Billy the Kid and another man are playing croquet, at a wedding. Some of the other people pictured are thought to be members of the Regulators. The tintype is just four inches by five inches, and, according to Kagin’s, could be worth $5 million.

The tintype (Image: Kagin’s, Inc.)

Bonus finds: a Jefferson-era chemistry lab at UVA, animations deleted from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Every day, we highlight one newly lost or found object, curiosity or wonder. Discover something unusual or amazing? Tell us about it! Send your finds to [email protected]