Friday, 29 July 2011

Billy the Kid

Welcome to the 31st edition.

This almost comical image of William H Boney sold recently for a total fee of $2.6 million. When we conjure up an image of Billy the Kid this Tintype is the one we think of more than any other and is considered an iconic image of the wild west. The photograph  taken in about 1879-80 has undisputed provenanceThe camera used had multiple lenses so what happened to the other three and are they likely to appear anytime soon? One burnt in a fire and the fate of the others is not known. This image first appeared in print on Jan 8th 1888 and features in Pat Garrett's book "The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid."
What is a tintype?
Tintype Camera
Tintypes were shot in a similar way to Daguerreotypes with up to four images being taken on one plate. They were quick to produce and were popular with street photographers. Despite their name no tin was used in the process. They produced a negative image where everything was in reverse in the same way you appear reversed when looking in the mirror. This led many to believe that Billy the Kid was left handed and  inspired a film called the 'Left Handed Gun' starring Paul Newman. The video below explains more about the process and contains a lot of historical information.

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