Old Western Wanted Poster

Old Western Wanted Poster

Dodge City Peace Commission photo (1883) A player substitution occurred in 2005. Can you spot him?

Old Western Wanted Poster

History of Wanted Posters

The definitive answer to what was the first wanted poster; no one knows – it’s lost in history. However the first known wanted poster in America was one for the apprehension of President Lincoln’s murderer; John Wilkes Booth. Issued in 1865 it was quickly distributed and within a week troops had killed Boothe while trying to capture him.

Wanted posters were used in merry olde England to help identify “Outlaws”. The origin of this word is quite fascinating. It comes from old English and is used to denote a person who is “outside the law” – which literally means a person who is not protected by the law of the land, and can be killed/apprehended by any citizen and the reward collected.

Wanted Posters have always served an important need – that of making the citizenry aware of criminals or “outlaws” in the immediate area. They are most often displayed at Police Stations or Post Offices. In today’s world there are thousands of wanted posters posted on the Internet.

The Wild Bunch

Old Western Wanted Poster

We were passing the place (picture studio) and thought it would be a good joke to have our pictures taken.

So said Butch Cassidy about what became, arguably, the most famous of old western wanted posters.

There’s two very interesting aspects of this picture that set Butch and Sundance apart from the other three members of the Wild Bunch.

These two style characteristics just reinforce the close bond between Butch and Sundance. Pards to the end. . .can you spot the two differences? Read below to find the answer.


Butch’s old west hideout – Hole in the Wall

Hole in the wall

Hole in the Wall is located in Wyoming, and is one of those mythical wild west locals, like Tombstone, Dodge City, and Deadwood that are inseparable with the Old West. Hole in the Wall’s fame as an old west hideout began with Jesse James, and continued for decades with Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch using it on many occasions in the late 1890s.

Immortalized by the movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, today Hole in the Wall can be toured by horseback with riding tours from a private ranch.

The Sundance Kid gets his nickname

When Harry Longabaugh was a mere 17 years of age or so he got caught stealing a horse in and around his home town of Sundance, Wyoming. Hell, Harry was so well liked around those parts that not only was he not hanged, when he was released after 30 days in jail Harry had a new moniker: The Sundance Kid.

The Wild BunchDid you spot the two style differences, that set Butch and Sundance apart in their famous picture?

Click the image at right for a larger image and you will see that Butch and Sundance are both wearing single breasted vests, and their watch fobs are strung in the same manner. The other three are wearing double-breasted vests and their watches are strung in a totally different manner.

Black Bart Outlaw Poster

Black Bart

The Outlaw Poet

Bart’s first stagecoach robbery was reported in August of 1877, and his method was simple.

He’d wait for the stagecoach around a tight corner, with flour sack over his face (with two holes cut/ripped for the eyes) derby on his head, and shotgun in his arms, wearing a long, linen duster.

He’d exchange the contents of the strong box for a copy of some poetry and always signed it, Black Bart, PO-8.

Bart was eventually caught – did his time – then disappeared into the pages of old west lore. Black Bart – Outlaw


Here I lay me down to sleep
To wait the comming morrow,
Perhaps success, perhaps defeat
An everlasting sorrow,
Yet come what may, I’ll try it once
My condition can’t be worse,
And if there’s money in that box,
‘Tis munney in my purse

– Black Bart, PO-8

Young Guns Circa 1870

Young Guns Circa 1870 Poster

Charley Utter, Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill Cody, Texas Jack Omohundro, and Elisha Green.

The photo that this poster was built around was originally taken in the early 1870s. At the time the men were touring the East, performing in Ned Butlines’ Wild West play, “Scouts of the Prairie“.

As bad as most of the acting was – Hickok’s stood out as the worst. The whole idea of pretend playing was disagreeable to Wild Bill and he left after only six months.

Hickok’s disdain can be clearly seen on his face in the picture. And notice how carefully the other men have their firearms staged around them – except Wild Bill: He’s stood his long arm upside down!

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