A photo of Billy the Kid, never before made public, could fetch $1 million at auction.

Taken in 1877, the rare black-and-white image shows the notorious Irish American outlaw sitting around a table playing cards with his gang - Richard Brewer, Fred Waite, and Henry Brown.

It is the second-confirmed photograph of Billy the Kid, who was also known as William H. Bonney. (His birth name was Henry McCarty.)

In the image, he is seen dressed in a white shirt, dark waistcoat and top hat, the Daily Mail reports.

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At the time of the photo, Billy the Kid was wanted for killing a blacksmith in Arizona. It is believed he went on to kill another seven men during the Lincoln County War in 1878, including Lincoln County Sheriff William Brady.

He was shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett on July 14, 1881.

The tintype photograph, which comes in a cream leather frame, has never before been seen by the public because it has been kept for over a century by the same family.

The picture was given to the vendor’s grandfather by the widow of David Anderson, better known as Billy Wilson. 

Billy the Kid

Billy the Kid

Wilson became a member of Billy the Kid’s gang after riding alongside him during the Lincoln County War. 

Wilson received a presidential pardon in 1896 and went on to serve as sheriff of Terrell County and later worked as a US customs inspector.  

Billy the Kid entrusted Wilson with the photo safe prior to his death.

When Wilson died, his widow gave the photo to the vendor’s grandfather, who was Billy Wilson’s second cousin.

In a letter describing the photograph's history, vendor Tomas R. Anderson II wrote: “When my grandfather and family went to pay their respects to the widow of David Anderson at his 1918 funeral, she gifted him, with among other items, a small leather family photograph album.

“She explained to my grandfather's family about the history of the photograph and how Billy had gifted the photo to her husband.” 

The photograph has been verified by the George Eastman Museum in Texas and will go up for auction at Sofe Design Auctions of Richardson, near Dallas, Texas.

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A spokesman for Sofe Design said: "This is a historically important, incredibly rare and one-of-a-kind.

"It is only the second positively documented and analysed photographic image of Billy the Kid as well as the only known group image to include him.

"It also possesses meticulous and irrefutable Anderson family provenance dating back three generations.

"It has never been seen before and nor has it been publicly offered for sale."

Billy the Kid, left and wearing a top hat, is seen in this rare photo dating to 1877.Sofe Design Auctions