It has been said that most of the gun-toting notables of the Old West on both sides of the law were noted for having one thing (besides living and often dying by the gun) and that was
the steely blue gaze of their eyes. Wyatt Earp deputy E. M. King was quoted as saying that ninety-five percent of pistoleers were blue-eyed. Wyatt Earp himself was blue-eyed as were
Jesse James, Bat Masterson, John Wesley Hardin, Clay Allison, William “Billy the Kid” Bonney, William Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok, and Pat Garrett to name a few. While this
formidable appearing and well-dressed man’s identity and chosen trade is lost to the mists of history his look certainly is cold enough to cause one to hesitate. His visage is quite
This 1/6th plate tintype dates from sometime between the late 1860s and early 1870s and the subject is very well dressed in a velvet collared frock coat, striped vest, a fancy collared
pinstriped shirt, and a silk bowtie. His very expensive-looking notched front boots are displayed quite prominently and with the rest of his outfit denote a certain level of affluence – he seems to have been quite aware of the image he presented to others.
Above all else, the most striking thing in this photograph is the man’s face. It is coldly expressionless. His eyes were an icily light blue and his slightly downward gaze at the camera
adds to his seeming indifference to if not outright contempt for the viewer. A square jawline, narrow nose, small thinly lipped mouth, mustache, and goatee harden his persona even
more. Even the photographer’s gentle pink tinting of the man’s cheeks and lips fail to soften his countenance.
The photograph does not appear to have been taken in an established photographer’s studio but instead in an empty upstairs room (note the angled line of the ceiling) and possibly a
plain canvas backdrop. The plain wooded chair is the only accessory in the photograph. The photographer may well have been of an itinerant or traveling sort who had temporarily set
but shop in a convenient vacant room somewhere along the Western Frontier.
1/6th Plate Tintype (Ferrotype)