Since I love and collect vintage photographs – and I’m a mystery and history buff – this news story is right up my alley! According to several news sources, in 2001, a North Carolina lawyer named Frank Abrams plunked down ten dollars for a flea market tintype of what he thought were just five cowboys showing off for the camera that caught his eye.
After he learned of a news story from a few years ago about another similar find out west of a tintype being officially authenticated as only the second photograph of the infamous Billy The Kid (playing croquet, now appraised at $5 million) he decided to give his purchase a second look.
As the photographic fates would have it, he realized that his tintype not only included Billy The Kid in the group of cowboys, it also included Pat Garret who would later be known as the sheriff who eventually killed Billy The Kid. At the time that the photograph was taken, the two were gambling and drinking buddies!
He was right and the photo has now been authenticated as legitimate with an estimated value of more than 10 million dollars! It’s a fascinating story filled with the dust of the old west and it serves as a present day testament to the story telling history of 18th century American photography!
So – if you have an attic full of old photos, it may be well worth an afternoon of taking a closer look. Who know’s what stories may make themselves known! – Michael Sprouse