Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Route 66
Good stuff, while the 'jury is still out' on the 'croquet' photo, it remains compelling despite the rebuttal of many recognized experts.
While the individual presumed to be Billy is certainly of the age etc. forensic comparison is always strained in these kinds of matters, and the complete absence of provenance renders it suspicious at best.
It seems references I have seen on this particular image often note the other figures in it by name, and among the number are names like Chisum, Maxwell and Scurlock. All of these are persons known to be 'Regulators' or known friends of Billy's. These would be corroborating if comparing their images with other known contemporary images of them. I am not sure if this has been done, but I must imagine that it has.
Returning to the well known tintype of Billy, as noted, it is quite possible that the photographer may have provided these guns as props, however Billy may have as easily fetched his own guns for the image. With these type images by professional photographers we know that tintypes and the later forms of CDV (carte de visite) the posed person seems to almost invariably hold the same weapon forms in the same position. This is evident in Civil War images where the soldiers typically hold a Colt M1851 Navy and a Bowie knife in a notably 'serious' manner.
'Gunfighters' of course, would typically want their image to match their purported reputations, which only added to the hyperbole.
With that, the term gunfighter is not known to have been used before c. 1894 officially (in dictionaries) but was certainly known much earlier. The term 'shootist' was typically designating notable marksmen (or women as with Anne Oakley) but may have been used for gunfighters occasionally. We know of course the term was so used in the John Wayne classic "the Shootist".
The term pistoleer, as noted, was from the Spanish/Mexican 'pistolero' and with the profound presence of Mexican gunfighters throughout the 'west' of course filtered into the slang of the times. A pocket type pistol was a 'pistola'.
Wild Bill Hickok was often called a pistoleer, but perhaps loosely referred to his use of the Bulldog pistol. In later years, with failing eyesight he deferred his 'gunfighting' ways and took to gambling. When he was assassinated in Deadwood by Jack McCall in Saloon #10, he had a pocket carried Smith & Wesson #2 revolver, but shot from behind, never had the chance to use it .
With 'guns', a pocket pistol (like the Thunderer) was 'carried' , and when used was not 'drawn' but PULLED.
The revolver holstered was 'drawn'...…..and was broadly termed a 'gun'.
The 'Buntline' was actually intended as a kind of revolver rifle hybrid, and these usually had added rifle stock as an accessory. It was not intended as a holstered gun for wear for defense, and obviously its barrel would severely impair such use.
Indeed Wyatt retained his as made as a novelty, while the other four notable recipients (the five guns were presented by pulp writer Ned Buntline) had their barrels cut down to standard length.