The Fort Worth Five photograph

The Fort Worth Five, one of the most famous photographs in Western history, taken on November 21 in 1900 at John Swartz’s gallery, upstairs on 705 1/2 Main, Fort Worth, Texas. A Pinkerton agent later called it the “bad-luck picture”, since the gang’s downfall began through their impulsive decision to dress up to the nines and have their portrait taken in a professional studio in Texas, ways away from their last coup. A displayed copy of this unarmed shooting eventually broke the Wild Bunch manhunt open.

About this shot

How the handwritten names came on this photo, I don’t know. I found this photo in an antique store, browsing through a stack of old picture frames. The photograph itself was hidden behind an oil on canvas picturing a pipe-smoking Chinaman. This came with a painting of a street scene on Pottinger Street, Hong Kong, erroneously labeled “Repulse Bay, Hong Kong. June 1924”. If a Chinese family consigned its residues to the world of antique stores, if this photograph meant to be the savings for a rainy day, or if someone just thought it’s funny to write the names of the Wild Bunch across the photo and let the afterworld find it behind a canvas, who knows.

If anyone has an idea or can elucidate, or saw a similar version somewhere else, I appreciate your comments. e-mail