January 26th Rare Autograph & Book Auction
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 1/26/2023

The photo is 7 1/16" x 9", mount size is 7 5/8" x 9 1/4". With the Swartz, FORT WORTH, TEX. photographer’s imprint on the front of the image, lower left. On the verso of the cabinet card, you can see where this was the actual detective working photo where each of the subjects on the front were identified along with their positions on the photo.

“THE WILD BUNCH / Left to Right: Standing: Wm. Carver; Harvey Logan / Sitting: Harry Longabaugh, alias Sundance Kid; Ben Kilpatrick; Geo. Parker, alias “Butch Cassidy”.

This is believed to be the original photograph that was discovered by a police detective at the Swartz Photography Studio in Fort Worth, which was used by the Pinkertons to hunt down the western bank robbers. The Pinkertons had copies produced as a circular to be distributed to all agencies and lawmen throughout the west!

ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS PICTURES IN WESTERN LORE. In 1999 the Smithsonian named the picture one of the iconic images of the American West. "The Wild Bunch were the last bank robbers of the western era. From 1895-1902 they operated from Wyoming to Texas and at their peak, they had more than twenty members. Noted hideouts of the gang included Robbers Roost, in Utah and Hole-in-the-Wall in Wyoming. The gang's notorious exploits extended the legends associated with western outlaws into the 20th century.

We can only find 2 original photos that have come to market in the last 50 years, with the last one selling for over $115,000, and what makes this one extremely important, is it is believed to be the actual working photo used by the detectives to make the original Wanted Poster/Circular. You can see that someone has taken the time to identify each subject on the front with a corresponding number and then wrote on the back their name and position on the photo. This was obviously done for identification purposes so there would be no misidentifications of each western bandit.

The consignor says the provenance of this photo and the original circular also being offered in another lot in this auction had originated from the Pinkerton detective agency.

On the back the names and numbers are written;

1 Harry Longbaugh ("Sundance Kid"), 2 Bill Carver 3 Ben Kilpatrick 4 Harvey Logan 5 Butch Cassidy (Geo Parker) Then below is in Ink Left to Right Standing: Wm Carver, Harvey Logan Sitting: Harvey Longbaugh, Ben Kilpatrick; George Parker Alia “Butch Cassidy”

The origin of this photograph is again grounded in legend. After the Winnemucca, Nevada robbery, on Sept. 19, 1900, the gang met at Fanny Porter's Sporting House where, during a friendly scuffle, some of their felt hats were damaged. According to Horan they "repaired to a hat store" and seeing some derby has in the window, "decided as a jest to attire themselves in this headgear, which was unusual in the West at the time." As a joke, to commemorate their new hats, the gang decided to visit the photographic studio of John Swartz to have their portrait taken. Sitting in the front row are the Tall Texan, Butch Cassidy, and the Sundance Kid, while in the rear, Bill Carver and Kid Curry stand demurely with their hands on fellow gang members' shoulders.  The result is an impressive photograph of five well-attired western dudes, each with their derby at a different rakish angle, posing before a decidedly unmacho floral backdrop. The joke was to be the downfall of the Wild Bunch when the photograph fell into the hands of Pinkerton detectives trailing them.

By 1906 reproductions were widely circulated throughout the country and later, in Bolivia and across South America. Authorities in Sonora, Texas, cornered and killed Will Carver on April 2, 1901. Ben Kilpatrick was arrested in St. Louis on November 5, 1901, convicted of passing stolen federal banknotes and sentenced to 15 years in the penitentiary. (He served 10.) Harvey Logan was arrested near Jefferson City, Tenn., in December 1901, escaped from jail in Knoxville in June 1903, then was shot down near Parachute, Colo., in June 1904 after robbing one more train. At the time he was, as historian Jay Robert Nash puts it, “the most hunted outlaw in America.” Butch and Sundance, with the Kid’s paramour Etta Place, wisely skipped the country in early 1901, sailing to South America, where both likely died in a shootout with Bolivian soldiers in November 1908. Their downfall all began with the Fort Worth photo. It’s no wonder a Pinkerton agent dubbed it the “bad-luck picture.”

The Wild Bunch legend has continued to grow from the hunt of the Pinkerton detectives to the hit 1969 movie: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid with Paul Neuman and Rober Redford.  Even today one of the highest-rated games of all time and considered by many to be the best video game ever made, known as Red Dead Redemption 2 is also based on the Wild Bunch and has sold 'more than 46 million copies which expands across all generations of western lovers. 

 Iconic Original Photo of the Wild Bunch (1901), One of the most famous photos of Western  Outlaws in Existence Iconic Original Photo of the Wild Bunch (1901), One of the most famous photos of Western  Outlaws in Existence Iconic Original Photo of the Wild Bunch (1901), One of the most famous photos of Western  Outlaws in Existence
Iconic Original Photo of the Wild Bunch (1901), One of the most famous photos of Western Outlaws in Existence
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Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $2,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium.: $29,766.00
Number Bids: 27
Auction closed on Thursday, January 26, 2023.

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