For the majority of of the last century, historians believed Billy the Kid never before appeared on a wanted poster.
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True, Gov. Lew Wallace posted a wanted alert for “William Bonn
This typical wisdom around the Kid was turned on its head freshly when the Lew Wallace Collection at the Indiana Historical Society released transcripts of numerous Billy the Kid letters in its arsenal and a copy of a printing bill from the New Mexihave the right to Printing and Publishing Company type of in Santa Fe, New Mexico (above). The bill is dated May 20, 1881 (two weeks after the Kid’s escape from the Lincoln County Jail in Lincoln, New Mexico), and also calls for 100 “Kid” reward posters.
Several veteran collectors of Old West memorabilia have estimated that if uncovered, among these original wanted posters would certainly be worth in excess of $5,000.
The printing bill presents a number of intriguing mysteries. While the bill is dated May 20, the ledger enattempt appears to be April 26, which is 2 days prior to the Kid escaped on April 28. This opens up the door to some speculation as to whether it might be another “Kid” (because, on April 26, the Kid remained in jail awaiting his hanging and tright here would be no need for a wanted poster). Also mystifying is the word over “Kid,” which may be an abbreviation for broadsheet (a newspaper via full-size pages, as opposed to tabloid), although that is mere speculation.
If you find such a reward poster, let us know.
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UPDATE: Researcher and author John Boessenecker points out that the “3 in.” and also “2 in.” notations on the May 20, 1881, bill describe how many type of column inches the “Kid” advertisement showed up in. The bill is for a newspaper ad, not a wanted poster.
This New Mexideserve to Printing and also Publishing Company bill mirrors 100 “Kid” posters were ordered, but were they for Billy the Kid?– Courtesy Indiana Historical Society, M292 –
After December 13, 1880, when Gov. Lew Wallace signed authorization for this $500 reward, the alert showed up in the Las Vegas Gazette till Billy the Kid’s capture on December 23. When the Kid escaped from the Lincoln jail on April 28, the reward notice appeared throughout May 1881 in the Santa Fe New Mexideserve to.– True West Archives –
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