Going to the pawnshop can be loads of fun thanks to the surprise factor. You walk in and you never know what to expect to see, but your taste and gut feeling will help you determine what to buy. In 2010, Randy Guijarro only had a few dollars in his pocket during one of his trips and chose to buy some black and white photos because he thought he felt a special connection to them. Once he returned home and realized who was in the pictures, the goosebumps came. It wasn’t until years later he realized how valuable his purchase was…
A Man Who Loves Possessions Of The Past
Randy Guijarro was in Fresno, California when he wanted to browse around at an old antique shop. He searched for something eye-catching that he could take home with him, but not just anything.
He was a collector who loved finding possessions from the past, so he didn’t have ordinary preferences. The history buff knew that going to pawnshops was similar to treasure hunting, but he could’ve never imagined that he would stumble upon this particular reward…
Going Through The Junk
As seasoned as Randy was in thrifting, nothing could’ve prepared him for the discovery he had that day at the old junk shop. Before landing the great treasure, he still needed to put in the work and go through the “trash.”
Going up and down aisles of the shop, Randy became very focused in his hunt. No matter if it was for profit or personal collection, he still enjoyed every aspect of searching for good collectibles. That day, however, wasn’t looking too good.
Something Familiar Found
Between the vintage furniture, the old toys, and the decorations, there wasn’t anything that stood out to Randy on this day. Then, that all changed when he came across the photography section.
As he went through the old photos, there was one that caught his attention. Upon further investigation, he gained a sense of familiarity while looking at it. Randy still didn’t know why it felt right, so he thought about if it was worth taking home at all.
Could He Possibly Be… Related?
There wasn’t anything else at the shop that randy felt connected to until he discovered that box filled with the photographs. He didn’t know why, but they felt familiar for some reason.
Were they Randy’s ancestors, or maybe familiar historical figures? There was no telling what it was. As he thought about leaving without buying anything, he looked at the photos one more time and still felt that rush of familiarity. What was he looking at that made him feel this way?
Rougher Than He Wanted
After viewing one picture, he found another two that looked like they were from a series. These photos looked to have something special about them too, so he continued to investigate.
In an interview with KUTV Channel 2 News, Randy said the pictures didn’t look they were worth too much because “[one had] a hole on the top, it’s really kind of beat up.” But after taking a closer view, Randy couldn’t put them down as he felt a wave of nostalgia hit him…
Going With His Gut
After finding the series of photos, they immediately stood out to Randy. At first, he may have questioned whether they were worth buying, so that’s when it came down to how they made him feel.
“I had just a couple of bucks left, and I found three photographs I liked,” Randy shared with KSEE, “And of the three, the oldest tintype, I actually kind of chucked it back in the box.” His gut feeling told him to buy it, even if it meant saying goodbye to his last several dollars.
Two Dollars For Three Pictures
Buying something for yourself never gets old! Whether its a new pair of shoes you’ve been wanting or a painting you just spotted, the excitement factor will always be there for you.
Randy had reservations about whether or not to spend his last few bucks on the photos, but he decided to pull the trigger based on his feelings. Happiness consumed Randy as he bought the old photos, and he couldn’t wait to get home to show his wife, Linda.
A Clue To The Mystery
Randy thought it was a normal day for him in Fresno, California as he bought those photos. Little did he know, his life was on the verge of changing in a serious way.
He couldn’t pinpoint why or how he felt nostalgic looking at the pictures, but maybe his wife could help. One thing he did know was that the photographs came from the 19th century or so due to the tintype. This allowed him and his wife to make a sophisticated guess at what or who was in the pictures.
Deciding Between Their Options
Randy his wife began their quest to figure out who this person was in the photos. Unable to immediately figure it out, all Randy knew was that whoever this was, he meant something.
The pictures depicted a group of Americans dressed up while playing croquet. That, mixed with their first clue that the timeline must’ve been from a specific time period, and they were able to narrow down their options. The mystery was only starting for the couple!
When Things Clicked
Randy began to feel the frustration of having something on the tip of his tongue, but not being able to figure it out. The photo was getting to the savvy thrift shopper.
That’s when it finally clicked for both Randy and his wife. They were close to certain that it was someone very influential in American history. That didn’t mean they were correct, it just made them reach out for some professional help on the matter.
Old Tech For An Old Picture
Trying to identify what something is that’s from the 19th century can be tough and isn’t as easy as you would think. Today, we’re used to reverse Google image searching something, but this was in 2010 when tech hadn’t advanced so far.
Even with Randy and his wife completely sure they had found a picture of a famous historical figure from the 1800s, they still needed to be sure about their hunch before believing it to be true.
Think Of It As A Diamond In The Rough
No matter which pawn shop or thrift store you go to, there’s bound to be some kind of gem. The fun part is sorting through everything so that you can find the diamonds in the rough.
Randy and Linda gathered significant evidence when trying to determine if their hunch was correct about who it was in the photographs. They narrowed it down to a notorious historical figure from the 1800s. This was an extremely rare find.
Who Could It Be?
Have you figured it out for yourself? Who was it that Randy and Linda saw in the photo? We’ll provide some more context for you to help you make the best guess.
He was born in 1859. He was an outlaw who murdered eight men before getting shot at 21. The first time he got arrested was for stealing food when he was 16. The legend is that he never got caught and he had staged his own death.
The Infamous Man Himself
Did you guess correctly yet? Well, the answer to who the couple thought they had was the rarely-pictured Henry McCarty, also known as William Booney, or as everyone else knows him — Billy the Kid!
Linda and Randy grew extremely excited once they put the pieces together and figured it out! While it’s always sensational to discover pictures from the past of famous figures, there was something different about this one, but what was it?
The couple spent long days and longer nights speaking with multiple historians and authenticators trying to determine if they had found a piece of American history. It would be one of the greatest thrifting finds ever if it was.
It was hard to believe that they found this golden photograph, but they didn’t know what to expect. As their enthusiasm grew, they just prepared for any and all questions. Like, what if this was just a photo from the past of random people? Maybe it could’ve been a different historical figure…
The couple spent a year doing research which made them feel like historical authenticators. Even after that long, they still needed it to go through verification before taking the next steps.
With every visit Randy and Linda had with historians about the photo, shock ensued as they learned more. Before going on and revealing the truth about this picture and whether it was Billy the Kid or not, we need to also know why this was so important to Randy…
Who Was This Billy Guy?
Anyone versed in history could tell you who Billy the Kid was. In case you’re not, we’re here to help you a bit in that department! He was an outlaw with no regard for human life.
Orphaned at a young age, he had a tough time escaping from the con-life. Even though he died at a young age (21), he still gained a reputation as one of the baddest people during the days of the wild, wild west.
Why Was He So Special?
Billy the Kid’s life was action-packed and wild. His life of crime started out of necessity after becoming an orphan at such a young age. At first, he would only do small things like steal food.
Soon enough though, his juvenile behavior led him down dangerous paths, but that’s part of what makes him so important in American history. The things he did were very daring and he was so impossible to track that many questioned if he even existed.
He Was A Phantom Cowboy
There are tons of myths and stories revolving around Billy the Kid or the “Phantom Cowboy.” This is why discovering a photo of him such a huge deal for anyone lucky enough.
Billy the Kid isn’t only famous for the crimes he committed, but for also slipping out of his death sentence. He got away with murder as some would put it. There was something else that made him different from the other criminals during his time alive…
One Classic Character
There was something about Billy the Kid that make people appreciate him these days. It was more than his infamous death-row escape and outlandish crimes. He had a certain swag about him.
“The thing that makes Billy the Kid really interesting to me is, I very rarely have ever seen cowboys wear a sweater,” expert historian and photographer Will Dunniway mentioned on a National Geographic special. Dunniway also commented on his “funny little hat” and “kid face.”
Finally Getting Certified
As the days went by, Randy and Linda learned more about the photo and Billy the Kid’s history as a result. Finally, after so long, they got word that Billy the Kid was the man in the picture! It was a great day for the couple.
“This is the first photograph ever discovered of Billy the Kid with the Regulators. Period. And that’s significant in American history,” explained Jeff Aiello, executive director of Billy the Kid – New Evidence told KUTV Channel 2 News.
The Public Gets To Know
It was a long and emotional few years, but Linda and Randy finally had the confirmation they needed about the photographs. Until the couple got their picture authenticated, there was only one photo of Billy the Kid.
This was the first time the public saw anything new about he bandit in such a long time, but that wasn’t the only reason why it was so special. There was something else that made it extremely rare…
Billy the Kid is nearly synonymous with The Regulators and it looked like they were the ones next to Billy in that rare photo. The question is; who in the world were they?
Billy’s rep largely stems from the time he was 18 and he joined and participated frontline in a gunfight against “The House.” When The House killed Englishman John Tunstall, The Regulators and Billy teamed up to avenge Tunstall’s death. That was Billy’s crew.
Against All Odds
The moment word got out that there was a photo of Billy the Kid out there, the story went viral. That’s when National Geographic did a whole special on the exact photograph that Linda and Randy found.
Expert photographer and historian Will Dunniway said exactly how he knew it was Billy the Kid. “He’s got the same stance… [but] to me the sweater is just the ringer,” Dunniway said. “Because I’ve probably looked at 10,000 photographs of western figures, and the only sweaters I can recall are on Billy the Kid.”
A Great Candid With A Backstory
Dunniway was also the guest for the National Geographic special, but he isn’t just an expert historian and photographer. He was a professional American History re-enactor before he made the decision to become a photographer full-time. He had a pretty good idea about what the backstory of this picture was.
“As a photographer, it looks like a wedding photograph. And I think that the photographer was bought in specifically to photograph this event,” Dunniway shared on the special. He said that it was a candid photo and not one where they posed. Needless to say, Randy should be proud of the pawnshop find that brought all this attention.