Better Photography
The Unwavering Enigma Of Billy The Kid Image Credit: Better Photography
The Unwavering Enigma Of Billy The Kid Image Credit: Better Photography

The Unwavering Enigma Of Billy The Kid

The American Wild West is synonymous with some of the most notorious figures in U.S. history, like Butch Cassidy, Jesse James and Wyatt Earp.

Conchita Fernandes

But it was Henry McCarty, also known as Billy the Kid, who posthumously became an enigmatic figure in American folklore. In his lifetime, Billy is said to have killed at least half a dozen individuals. He was jailed several times, but escaped captivity until his death in 1881, at the age of 22. Since then, for over a century, his escapades and thievery have fascinated generations.

However, until the resurgence of the photograph above, there was almost no visual record of the infamous outlaw. This tintype, made a year or so before his death in 1881, was shot at Fort Summer in New Mexico. Billy is said to have presented the picture to Dan Dedrick, a friend, who then handed it over to his nephew, Frank L Upham, a few years before his death in 1938. In 1947, Upham passed over the tintype to his sister-in-law, who tucked it away in a cedarwood box for nearly 40 years. In the mid-1980s, it was loaned to the Lincoln County Heritage Trust, and retrieved later. In all this time, no one in the family had any idea about what they were harbouring. It was only in 2011 that the picture became public knowledge, after it was auctioned off at a staggering USD 2.3 million, making it currently the16th most expensive photograph in the world. Since then, two other pictures claiming to feature Billy have emerged, thus adding to his otherwise little-known life. However, “No matter how long we gaze upon his frozen image, the buckteeth, the squinty snake eyes, that goofy hat, we can ne

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