Billy the Kid Played Croquet...Who Knew?

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johnnyreb

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Aug 21, 2014
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When you are running antique malls looking for pipes be sure & take time to look for old photographs of historical figures; it could be worth your while. A Tintype of Billy the Kid and his Lincoln County gang relaxing & spending a day playing croquet shortly after the Lincoln County War has been found & authenticated. Kevin Costner will narrate a two-hour documentary for National Geographic Channel, to air October 18th. The Kid looks so young!
https://madmimi.com/p/0867c6

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,427
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You can't be out killin' folks all the time. Even the "Kid" needed to relax now and then. I read that what really got Pat's knickers in a twist was when Billy roqueted his ball out of bounds in the "Lincoln Open". He was just about to "peg out" when Billy did this, Pat nearly chocked on his lemonade and the chase was on.
It's my understanding that they brought a pro in from Westminster to teach Costner the subtleties of the game for the movie.

 

mso489

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Feb 21, 2013
26,226
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Croquet was big in the 19th Century and on through the 1950's. When I was growing up, it had lost it's high tone where people played in jackets and ties, and it was just a backyard thing that all generations could manage. On the other hand, despite its gentle domestic appeal, it could be played on a highly competitive basis, knocking a competitors ball off the course, etc. Yes, there's cut-throat croquet. Billy the Kid really was a kid in the picture. He was one of these juvenile outlaws elevated to legendary status before people had radio and TV as entertainment, amplified by the newspapers, but mostly embellished by word of mouth. Be interesting to see what tack the documentary takes. It's always hard to sort out the grievances these outlaws expressed for the public, and the degree to which they hid behind those to garner sympathy in evading the law. That they were often daring is inarguable. Robin Hood, maybe not so much.

 

phil67

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Dec 14, 2013
2,052
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They didn't exactly dress like Roy Rogers back then did they.

People have so many misconceptions about the old west from watching T.V. and movies. Not everyone wore a cowboy hat and had a gun strapped to their hip and there was never such thing as a fast gun showdown. That whole idea was a Hollywood invention. Live in the troubled sections of Chicago, Detroit, etc. and it makes the so called 'wild west' look like Disney World.

 

johnnyreb

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Aug 21, 2014
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From what I've read about the upcoming program narrated by Costner it will be about the quest for authenticity of the Tintype, how it was determined to be Billy the Kid & to be authentic, & what was learned about the Kid's activities on the day it was taken in 1878. It seems the game of croquet was played after a wedding; I've wondered if the bride & groom are the couple to the far right about ready to depart on horseback, her setting sidesaddle.
Mso, I'm not so sure that Billy the Kid was the product of dime novels. I believe he was a deadly pistolero as advertised and things might have turned out differently if Pat Garrett had not shot him in the dark. So like papipeguy said, I would be inclined to let him win at croquet too! I'm sure there is probably a pistol sashed up under that sweater he's wearing! And as far as being Robin Hood, going into the Lincoln County War most people would agree that the Kid was on the right side of things even though there was no law.

 

jpmcwjr

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May 12, 2015
13,875
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Monterey Peninsula
Nice PS work, hunter!
And the close up seems to show a wire hoop, not the stiff iron types used in GB. And probably one ball per player, not two as they do in the Olde Country. Hell, it's on dirt in any event!
Thanks for the post, Johnny. I look forward to watching the program.

 

johnnyreb

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Aug 21, 2014
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Good observation on the wicket; it doesn't appear to be cast iron. But it looks heavy to be wire & it doesn't look to be twisted wire. Perhaps it's steamed hickory willow or bamboo? Don't know. The article does say something about seeking the assistance of experts on vintage croquet sets during authentication of the Tintype. Perhaps we'll learn more during the program.

 

12pups

Preferred Member
Feb 9, 2014
1,063
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Minnesota
Wait till you see the special on Al Capone. He'll be at the "family" picnic playing badminton. :)
Shit. Too much Maker's Mark. Again. (Sorry fellas).

 

johnnyreb

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Aug 21, 2014
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More here at the link, including other period Tintypes of those identified with Billy including the bride & groom:
http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/galleries/billy-the-kid-new-evidence/at/billy-the-kid-new-evidence14-2100466/

 

brian64

Preferred Member
Jan 31, 2011
5,248
155
Very cool...thanks for posting. I'm always interested in just about anything related to the old west. Here is a thread I posted a while back regarding another (alleged) Billy the Kid photo:
http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/for-those-interested-in-old-west-trivia

 

johnnyreb

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Aug 21, 2014
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Thanks for the link to your thread. I've been in the area and to the gravesite so I will read through the thread later.
Here is another unverified image that surfaced a few yrs ago. Facial recognition experts failed to confirm that it is Billy the Kid. There are similarities in the corners of the mouth and nose but the eyebrows and ears are not similar. I don't know if facial recognition software has been used or not.


 

brass

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Jun 4, 2014
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United States
The Upham tintype sold for $2.3 million to William Koch. Wonder what the new tintype is worth if validated? I read that it insured for $5 million.

 

jmd110

New member
Feb 22, 2013
18
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Lew Wallace was territorial governor. He was busy writing Ben Hur and minimized the capture of Billy or so I have read. This was all soon after the Civil War. Billy worked at the Coe Ranch in Lincoln County and sold meat to the Army here in Tularosa NM.

 

johnnyreb

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Aug 21, 2014
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Not sure I would buy this photo as being Jesse James & Bob Ford taken together shortly before Ford shot & killed Jesse in 1882. The owner who inherited the photo after it came down thru her family is trying desperately to get it certified; she wants to sell it. The only expert to certify it so far is a forensic analyst & artist for the Houston PD by the name of Lois Gibson. Ms. Gibson in recent yrs has been involved in controversy over her identifications of photos of (oddly enough) Billy the Kid, & Belle Starr. No information as to whether this photo has been scanned by facial image software or not.







http://www.sfgate.com/national/article/Lost-photo-of-Jesse-James-assassin-Robert-Ford-6540749.php#photo-8717877

 

johnnyreb

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Aug 21, 2014
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Some additional info on the authentication of the Billy the Kid tintype among other things confirms the use of facial recognition software:
Quote:
Simple resemblance is not enough in a case like this - a team of experts had to be assembled to address each and every detail in the photo to insure that nothing was out of place,” he continued. “After more than a year of methodical study including my own inspection of the site, there is now overwhelming evidence of the image’s authenticity.”
McCarthy said experts began believing the tintype was real after they were able to determine that four people in the photo - using facial recognition software - were those who spent time with Billy the Kid. Then, they began looking for events in which they were all together around that time.
They stumbled upon a diary of Sally Chisum, in which she described a cattle drive featuring all the players in the photo as well as a wedding that took place between Charlie Bowdre (seated on the horse in the photo) and his wife Manuella.
The cattle drive helped researchers narrow the location of the photo to New Mexico and the former ranch of one of Billy the Kid's employers, John Tunstall. But to confirm the site of the photo, McCarthy actually flew out to the site near Roswell and examined a building that turned out to have been built "over and around" a structure that was actually in the photo.
“I was standing at an angle from the building and I could see the texture of the stucco on the front of the building,” McCarthy said, adding they were tipped off by an investigator who saw what the thought was a building from the photo on ranch. “You could see the vertical wooden supports through the stucco and I looked at the picture and they were in the exactly the same place. I was amazed. That clinched it.”
(Snip)

“The historical importance of a photograph of Billy the Kid alongside known members of his gang and prominent Lincoln County citizens is incalculable - this is perhaps the single most compelling piece of Western Americana that we have ever seen,” Kagin's President Donald Kagin said, in the press release.
End Quote
http://www.foxnews.com/science/2015/10/12/new-image-shows-billy-kid-playing-croquet.html

 

foggymountain

Preferred Member
Aug 14, 2012
2,862
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When we were children we moved from the east Bronx to the suburbs. Probably because she read Alice in Wonderland, our mother decided that we should play croquet. (She was always doing ridiculous things.) It was the most boring game I can recall, worse in that respect than golf. Even badminton was more fun. Personally, my favorite activity was smoking a pipe.