Charles A. Siringo. Billy the Kid Lot, including the first edition of Siringo's History of Billy the Kid [with] an Autograph Note About The Kid's Handwriting Signed by Siringo. History of "Billy the Kid," The True Life of the Most Daring Young Outlaw of the Age. N.p. [Santa Fe]: n.p. [self-published], [1920]. Presumed first edition. 12mo. 142pp plus one page of ads for three other self-published books. Illustrations mounted throughout. Pictorial wrappers, side-stapled with glued outer wrappers. Wrappers lightly rubbed, with some faint foxing. In a custom gilt-stamped quarter leather clamshell box. A tight copy in near fine condition.

    Also included in this lot is a photograph of an example of the handwriting of William H. Bonney (alias Billy the Kid), with the following on the verso, in Siringo's hand: "This is the only handwriting of Billy the Kid in existance [sic] -- that I know of. Chas. A. Siringo Author of History of Billy the Kid." Approximately 6.5" x 4.75". One corner lightly creased. Near fine.

    In Charles A. Siringo, A Texas Picaro, Peavy writes that "Siringo had not only an obsessive interest in Billy the Kid, but also a genuine sympathy for the young outlaw." Siringo had met The Kid while working as a young cowboy on the LZ Ranch in the Texas Panhandle. Siringo described The Kid and his gang, with whom he had become "intimately acquainted," as a "jovial crowd." In an interview with American Magazine in the last year of his life, Siringo said that "some of us who knew Billy as a man, ate with him, practiced shooting with him, considered him what I still believe him to have been, a real prince of a human being, who got off on the wrong foot." Even though Siringo considered himself a friend of Billy the Kid, he later rode with a posse to track down the outlaw. He was not present at the capture, but three of his cowboys who had joined Pat Garret's posse were, and much of his information on the capture comes from them. Siringo's closing line of his History of Billy the Kid is: "Peace to William H. Bonney's ashes, is the author's prayer." Though some of the "facts" presented here have since been disproved, Siringo's book has much in the way of interest, especially his first-hand knowledge and observations of the outlaw. Jeff Dykes, in his Western High Spots, writes that Siringo's History of Billy the Kid is "presented with such vividness and strength that the book is a must for the cowboy and cattle collector." Ex Ben E. Pingenot.

    References: American Magazine, January, 1929. Dykes, p. 27. Howes S516. Peavy, pp. 9, 27-30. Six-Guns 2028.

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    Auction Dates
    November, 2009
    21st Saturday
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