As darkness fell, Keith sat in the armchair on the porch. His brother went to hit the porch light on and they sat with drinks in hand, looking over old west photos.
Keith took out their latest purchase for a closer look. The photograph was blurry, almost too obscure so he scinted. What he saw looking back at him sent a shiver down his spine.
Brothers, Keith and Biran Collins, were searching for the past. They were looking for clues. Clues to make sense of what happened before and evidence to prove it.
They’re known for collecting historical relics and photographs in an effort to piece it all together. It was an obsession that was now pulling them towards Tombstone, Arizona. A small town stuck in the 1800’s.
Since its construction in 1877, time has stood still for the residents of Tombstone. Although its original buildings have been replicated, it has remained more or less the same.
What was once a bustling town of 14,000 people, full of cowboys, operas and shootouts, dwindled to a mere 646 in 1910 after a fire that devastated the town’s people. Now, the Collins’ brothers are about to find the story left behind.
It was another scorching day in Arizona as they made their way through the quiet old western town towards an antique store.
Kicking the dust off their boots, they took off their hats and entered the store. They asked the store keeper for their photograph section and followed as she led the way. But as they walked, something felt wrong.
They ignored this unsettling feeling, and noticed they were the only ones in the store. But they didn’t mind as it meant no one would interrupt them as they scoured the shelves.
After a long search, they took interest in a tintype photograph of two men but weren’t very excited about it. They were hoping to find faces that were more historical and thrilling. But they were about to get the thrill of a lifetime.
As they made their way back to the women to pay, Keith noticed her head turn slightly with a stiff nod. Keith looked to the direction of her nod, expecting to find someone.
But by the time he looked, no one was there. He looked to his brother who was none-the-wiser. Looking around the empty store, that unsettling feeling came back again.
As they reach the counter, Keith gives a telepathic glance of ‘something-not-right’ to his brother. Keith wonders if she thinks they’re outlaws about to steal something, they kind of look like those old westerns in the photographs they find.
Keith asks her if everything’s ok. She reassures them everything’s just fine. But they sense she’s holding something back and continue to look at her cautiously. There’s something she doesn’t want them to know.
As they pay for the photograph she explains that maybe they noticed her tick. Keith explained his imagination running wild and they laughed it over.
Later, they stuffed the old photo into the car and expressed their disappointment at their find. They really hope they’d find something as good as last time. But they did, they just didn’t know it yet.
Their most successful find to date was in 2011, when the Collins brothers made the exciting but long journey out to the Carriage House antique store in Hesperia, California.
Their discovery went viral when they found an authentic photo album of the infamous Wyatt Earp along with several members of his family. It was an exhilarating find, just like the moment they’re to embark on.
It was nightfall by the time the Collins’ brothers remembered the old wild west photograph that had been sitting in their car.
They took it out and decided to have a proper look at it before the day went out. Sitting on the porch with a drink in hand, Keith looked at the cowboys in the photo. As he looked closer, a chill went down his spine.
His brother was in an armchair beside him looking at other photos they’ve purchased when he looked up and noticed Keith’s face.
Keith passed the photo to Brian and asked him who he thinks he is. His thoughts were the same. An outlaw and gunfighter from the Old West who killed 8 people before he was shot dead at 21. Who was he?
Did they really just find a picture of the notorious ‘Billy the kid’? This kind of photo would sell for millions. Just like a photo found in 2010.
A man bought a photo of an outdoor croquet gathering and later realised he was looking straight into the eyes of Billy the Kid. He was right there.
Situated into the left hand side of the photo, he posed with his stick. This photo ended up selling at a whopping 5 million dollars.
Realizing the potential of their find, the brothers called in help from producer Jeff Aiello, who helped identify Billy the Kid in the 2010 sale. The biggest factor in determining authenticity is facial recognition technology.
Unfortunately, the result wasn’t what they hoped for. Under the standard technology, the photograph didn’t score the required percentage points to prove a facial match to Billy the Kid.
Jeff admitted, “In my opinion, neither one of those guys is close to Billy. I laid out facial recognition data over them. The facial geometry doesn’t match. It’s a cool image though.” But the fight continued.
Although the photo wasn’t what they thought it was, the Collins’ brothers continue to find out the true identity of these men, piecing together their forgotten story.
Despite the disappointment, their mission is clear, as Keith explains, “Brian and I are trying to preserve history before it’s gone.” And with dedication and a just cause, we’re sure they’ll do just that!