The sale sent shockwaves throughout the Western collectibles community.
No photograph of an outlaw had ever brought this kind of money ($80,000 is the top bid we know about). Suddenly, everyone seemed to come out of the woodwork with alleged photographs of minor characters (Sam Bass!). As renowned Old West photograph collector Bob McCubbin put it, “They have been coming by the truckload.”
Brian Lebel, the man who brought the Billy the Kid tintype to the auction block last June at his Old West Show & Auction in Denver, Colorado, shares his thoughts on the “Holy Grail” and gives us a sneak peek at next year’s auction.
Collecting Old West Photos:
There is nothing bigger in the business than Billy! You, yourself, called it the “Holy Grail” after all. That said, there are items that are just as important as the tintype to the particular collector who possesses (or wishes to possess) them.
How the BTK Tintype Changed the Western Collecting World:
I believe the sale of the tintype gave the Western collecting world, and the Western history world, a good deal of national and international exposure, understanding and credibility. It brought attention to our field, and I think we gained some new collectors. It was great for the business overall.
Sneak Peek at This Year’s Auction:
This coming auction will have some very interesting and rare Wild West-related material, including one of Annie Oakley’s Parker shotguns and one of only two known remaining flags from Buffalo Bill’s Wild West. We will have three of the rarest Buffalo Bill Wild West posters as well as some more common ones.
See the BTK Tintype in Person:
The new owner, Bill Koch, has told us that the Kid tintype will be shown at the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach, Florida, until the end of March 2012.