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136 years after his death a banknote recovered from Billy the Kid’s body goes to auction

Ian Harvey

A ten-cent bank note is up for sale, with a letter stating that it was removed from Billy the Kid’s body before he was buried. The items are going up for auction in Bristol. Billy was killed 136 years ago; the note is reputed to have been removed from the body by Billy’s close friend Yginio Salazar, who was a member of Billy’s posse.

The note reads: “Although he had at various times stock worth thousands of dollars and made much money in other ways, yet Billy the Kid had only a few bills of low denomination on his body when he was killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett at Pete Maxwell’s house at Whiteoaks, New Mexico. Here is one of the bills, taken from the body by Ighenio Salazar (sic), before its removal for burial at Fort Sumner.”

The note and banknote have been researched by the East Bristol Auctions, but nothing about their authenticity can be definitively proven. The banknote is dated from years before Billy’s death. It is hard to know its value since it cannot be proven fake or genuine and the vendor has no idea how her grandfather came to have it. The note is being sold on February 24 and has a presale estimate of two to four hundred pounds. It could easily go for more, Mirror reported.

Portrait of American gunman Billy the Kid (1859–1881).
Portrait of American gunman Billy the Kid (1859–1881).

Billy the Kid was one of the Wild West’s most wanted men after he killed four people, including a sheriff. He was known to be charming and polite one moment and then erupt into violence the next. He was known for stealing horses and cattle. He took part in the Lincoln County War, and he became well-known as an outlaw when he joined the Regulators.

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His first arrest was back in 1875 when was about 15 years old – he stole food and firearms and clothing. He was arrested for the four men he killed in 1880 and, after being sentenced to death for his crimes, he killed his guards and escaped. On July 1, 1881, he was hunted down and shot dead by Sheriff Patrick (Pat) Garrett in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Pat Garrett wrote the biography of Billy the Kid; it was one of many accounts that turned the young man into a legend of the Wild West. He was only 21 when he died, and over his short lifetime, he is thought to have killed eight men.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News