c.1879: Only Known Authenticated Photograph of Billy the Kid

“The only known authenticated portrait of the Billy the Kid. It is believed to have been taken in 1879 or 1880 in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Billy the Kid gave the image to a friend, Dan Dendrick, in whose family it has remained ever since.”

- BBC

 

Thank you to John Pollock

20 Responses

  1. Earl Barber

    Though the only ‘authenticated’ photo of ‘Billy the Kid’, it led many to believe for over a century that ‘Billy’ was a ‘lefty’.

    Someone noted that the side of the rifle shown in the picture would mean that it was either made backwards (none were known to have been made that way), or, more realistically he was actually a ‘righty’.

    The concensus conclusion of historians being the image was made from a ‘flipped’ negative.

    Reply
  2. Laurence Wyche

    As an Englishman, I find America’s fascination with worthless psychotic murderers hard to understand.

    Reply
    • Lord Prola Psedrectum

      1928 called, they want their comical opinions back.

      Reply
    • Gloria

      OMG. I have seen the photo flipped, in fact I saved a copy of both, and it puzzled the heck out of me as to whether he was right or left handed. I will with go with your information that he was a “righty.”

      Reply
      • Gloria

        Mr. Barber, here I am again. I read further and studied the photo again and now I am not so sure that I agree that the Kid was a righty. The old time cameras took photos upside down and the cameraman may have done something wrong by flipping the negative. Reading further comments made me remember this. I am not saying you are wrong, but the Kid is wearing his gun on his left hip and the rifle in the other hand is standing as if he set it down after leaving his left hand. Notice where the trigger is facing. Also, someone mentioned about the buttons on his vest. In any case, this has always been a great topic of discussion, but even if someone has the true photo, that still does not prove that the photographer did or did not flip the negative.

    • Gloria

      You must be kidding me. The English that were thrown out of your country brought all this garbage over here, and now you are going to be snooty??? Check your English books and you will see that England has a long, psychotic list of murderers all your own. Tours of Jack the Ripper killing sites, London towers, Kings killing wives, etc., Royalty vs. the destitute, kids being ravished. England’s hands are not as clean as you want to believe.

      Reply
  3. Devlicious

    He’s right though… overpopulation is a big problem that everyone seems to ignore….

    Reply
  4. Michael

    Earl: The “historians” appear to be full of it. Tintype = no negative = image always appears flipped relative to reality.

    Reply
  5. Red Bunny

    There’s a lot more to the Billy the Kid story than what was described. New evidence suggests that he may not have killed as many men as they say he did. And he wasn’t exactly some random theif. His actions were motivated and there was even talk of pardoning him as recently as a few years ago by the Governor of New Mexico. Those few short paragraphs describing him don’t quite do his story justice. The true story is fascinating, and in the Old West, it was often hard to tell who were the “good guys” and who were the “bad guys”. That goes for other Old West legends such as Doc Holiday, and the Earp brothers, among others. Myth and history are two seperate things and it is wise to understand this.

    Reply
  6. Elisha etc

    Laurence, thank for allowing your stereotypical English snobbery to show through in a post stereotyping Americans. Now, kindly direct your attention to the murderer-obsessed source of Billy the Kid’s bio: BBC, which, if I’m not mistaken, stands for British Broadcasting Corporation…?

    Reply
  7. Brian

    This photo has always looked odd to me until I flipped it. The process used in taking the photo made the negative a positive without the normal ‘flip’. Once I flipped it horizontally, it looked normal. Billy the Kid wasn’t a leftie after all. First poster is correct.

    Reply
  8. mike mangan

    don`t think it was flipped, his waistcoat buttons to the left and also his gunbelt buckle fastens to the left.

    Reply
  9. ANTI-HOG

    @Laurence…as an American I am fascinated with the worthlessness of Englishmen, this one in particular.

    Reply
  10. Melynda

    Why bait the English troll? While any outlaw’s mental state could be called into question, as far as psychotic ones go, he’s pretty low on the scale in comparison.

    Reply
  11. Sean D

    Google images of waistcoats, you will see that a man’s waistcoat has the buttons on the wearer’s right-hand side and a women’s is the other way around. As per tradition. So the image should be the other way around.

    Reply
    • Gloria

      Hi Sean, I never thought to look at the buttons and what side they are on. Back in those days, didn’t the cameras take photos upside down? I mean, in the lens, the character was always upside down. When it was developed, the cameraman may have flipped the negative, so if that is the case, then aren’t we all at a loss as to the real side the buttons, belt buckle and gun were really on??? Now I am really confused.

      Reply

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