HOPING IT’S JESSE JAMES
Old photo could be valuable
A Regina couple could make out like bandits if their tintype photo of outlaw Jesse James turns out to be authentic.
For more than a decade, avid antique collectors Rob and Karen Baron from Regina have been scouring local garage and estate sales and online sites for treasures.
In late February they purchased a tintype photo for $15 from VarageSale.com.
“We like old photos,” Rob said. “Our house is full of old photos of people we don’t know.”
Shortly after the purchase, the seller informed the couple that someone requested their information because he believes they might have unknowingly purchased a lost photo of American outlaw Jesse James.
Intrigued, the Barons contacted a number of experts. They were excited when they received an email from professional forensic examiner Kent Gibson in Los Angeles.
Gibson told Rob and Karen that he was hesitant to take on more clients because he’s just beginning two television series on authentication. However, he did run their tintype photo through one of his five facial recognition programs.
“His software came out with a 80-per-cent match, which was within the threshold of being a plausible photo of Jesse James,” Rob said.
“It’s an exciting adventure for us and we’re going to keep digging to get information.”
The Varage Sale seller believes she bought the photo from Circle H Auctions in Saskatoon in the mid-’90s so Rob contacted the auction house.
That was a dead end. The auction house couldn’t find any information about the picture that could be the Wild West legend.
“Unfortunately digging up the provenance on it is going to be very difficult, which will diminish the possibility of a positive identification,” Rob said.
Collectors want to know the chain of custody so the Reginans are hoping someone will contact them with information about the photo.
“I hope we’re able to trace the item’s provenance and find out when it was taken — even if it isn’t Jesse James,” Rob said. “It’d be good to know the history behind such an old piece.”
But if it’s the real deal, the Barons could reap the rewards of having a photo of the gunslinger in their custody.
In his research, Rob discovered an authenticated photo of Jesse James was purchased on eBay for $10 and sold at auction for $2 million.
“If our photo is truly the American outlaw, it would be like winning the lottery,” Karen said. “Things of tremendous value have been bought at garage sales before ... It’s exciting. You never know what you’re going to find!”
The couple are not antique dealers, but they’ve made some wonderful finds that they share in their YouTube vlog called Bargain Barons.
“We’re not re-sellers, but we do have to sell sometimes so we don’t become hoarders,” Rob said.
Their find has spurred them on to keep looking for treasures.
“Everybody is surprised in what we find in Regina,” Karen said. “Sometimes the family is not interested so it is of little or no value to them whereas it is one of the prizes of our collection.”
To follow the Bargain Barons go to www.youtube.com/BargainBarons/videos.
Rob and Karen Baron are trying to trace the provenance of a tintype photo they think could be a long lost image of Jesse James that they recently purchased on VarageSale in Regina.
Facial recognition software says this image is an 80-per-cent match for Jesse James.