Rare Billy the Kid 1880s CDV for Sale at Old West Auction


1880s CDV of Billy the Kid for Sale at Old West Auction

An original, incredibly rare, cartes-de-visites of the famous image of Billy the Kid for sale by the same auction house that sold The Kid's tintype in 2011 for $2.3 million .

DENVER – Brian Lebel's Old West Auction will offer an original CDV of Billy the Kid, dating from the 1880s, at its 25th annual auction, June 28, 2014 at the Denver Mart. Though photographic historians have long suspected the existence of Billy the Kid CDVs, this is the first to come to public attention and sale. The image is the iconic picture of The Kid taken from an original tintype, one of which Lebel's auction sold for a record-breaking $2.3 million in June 2011. The presale estimate for the CDV is $8,000 - $10,000.

Billy the Kid Original CDV

Billy the Kid Original CDV

CDVs, or cartes-de-visites, were popular at the time The Kid's tintype was produced. They are small paper photographs mounted on cards that were inexpensive to make and mass produce. Photographers often took photographs of existing photos to create a CDV image, which is how the Billy the Kid CDV would have been produced. That is, it is an authentic, period reproduction of the original Kid tintype. The CDV was passed down through a New Mexico family, and shows the wear-and-tear of its 130+ years.

Though CDVs of Billy the Kid were likely mass produced, they weren't valuable in their time, which may explain why none have surfaced to date. Bob McCubbin, western photography historian and collector, said in an essay for Lebel's auction catalog, "a photo of Billy the Kid, purchased for a few cents, was not thought of as something worth saving." According to McCubbin, "to my knowledge, like the original tintype, this is the only known copy." Brian Lebel states, "I like to imagine kids in the 1880s sticking them in the spokes of their wagon wheels like I did with my baseball cards and bicycle."

The June 28th Old West Auction includes over 350 total lots of western artifacts, art and collectibles. The live sale is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. and is held in the Expo Building of the Denver Mart, Denver, Colo. Bidding can be done in-person, by phone, online or absentee, and auction catalogs are available for purchase. Details at www.denveroldwest.com or 480-779-9378.