Jesse James Cole Younger $5,000 REWARD robbery “wanted” card

Discussion in 'Antique Discussion' started by Samuel Trommler Jr., Dec 6, 2021.


Could this be an authentic historic document?

  1. Yes

    0 vote(s)
  2. No

  1. Samuel Trommler Jr.

    Samuel Trommler Jr. New Member

    AD16465C-CB28-4441-91F8-DC4F25BFACD6.jpeg 0F7D2C6D-58D7-4599-87D2-5B045F6F4FC3.jpeg F0699FE9-03E7-4676-8AAC-AB8DD5AFDF01.jpeg 1151195F-4A9A-40EF-9763-706F1FE54EB1.jpeg 82F3DEE6-30F1-40B1-AD70-73022FAD8A55.jpeg Found this as I rifled around in an antique mall last week. It’s pretty small (hand for scale) and measures about 3” by 5” or small index card size. The media it’s printed on is some sort of card stock, again about the thickness/consistency of an index card—definitely thicker than paper. Could it be authentic? And whether it is or is not authentic, how was it intended to be used being in such a small size?

    What are your thoughts?
  2. Debora

    Debora Well-Known Member

    My thought is that it's a reproduction or an invention. There was a lot of reproduction outlaw ephemera produced in the 1960s/1970s and this is likely a piece. (Condition alone leads one to suspicion.) Have you done an internet search to see if there are others out there?

  3. Samuel Trommler Jr.

    Samuel Trommler Jr. New Member

    I agree with you, however I have done numerous searches trying to find anything similar to this and have been unsuccessful so far. I can’t find ANY index card size “wanted posters” at all. If it’s a reproduction, they did a good job with the awkward kerning and spacing, inconsistent typeface, uneven paper edges, etc. I had the same thought about the paper condition, but if it had been tucked away it likely would have stayed in decent shape. So it’s hard to say…
    judy likes this.
  4. NewEngland

    NewEngland Well-Known Member

  5. smallaxe

    smallaxe Well-Known Member

    kyratango, judy and NewEngland like this.
  6. NewEngland

    NewEngland Well-Known Member

    Of course. Sorry!
    kyratango and judy like this.
  7. johnnycb09

    johnnycb09 Well-Known Member

    What a coincidence ! I lived in Sedalia Mo for almost a year.
  8. 2manybooks

    2manybooks Well-Known Member

    Here is an 1862 soldier's package receipt from the Adams Express Company, which also seems to be in very good condition - and not something that would be reproduced.
    Adams Express Company soldier's package receipt 1862.jpg

    Captain J. M. Thatcher was a "general agent" of the Adams Express Company, and seems to have been tasked with tracking down various bank and railroad robbers. Perhaps the card is something he handed out during the search.
    kyratango and NewEngland like this.
  9. Samuel Trommler Jr.

    Samuel Trommler Jr. New Member

    PLOT TWIST: I examined the card this evening with a flashlight. In particular, I was looking for indentations in the paper that might offer additional clues or perhaps indicate it was printed on a press (vs. modern laser printer). I also wanted to check for potential watermarks. When I placed a bright light underneath, I was shocked to see a DIFFERENT “reward poster card” showing through!!! It’s a little tricky to make out, but so far I can tell it relates to Reuben “Rube” Houston Burrow and an incident dating to Dec. 1886 (I think). It’s a similar format, offering a $700 reward, but references a different agent, I believe it’s C T Campbell.

    What am I supposed to think about that?!? Does it help or hurt the case for authenticity? I could see it both ways! I’ll try to figure out a way to photograph this new finding tomorrow…
    kyratango, 2manybooks and NewEngland like this.
  10. Kronos

    Kronos Well-Known Member

  11. Joe2007

    Joe2007 Collector

    There are a lot of copies out there but I'd put this in the "could be authentic" category. I've handled a lot of ephemera from that period and the cardstock looks fine to me and manner in which it was printed looks to be done in a press. Still the odds are against it since the fakes certainly proliferate out there in the marketplace.
  12. Samuel Trommler Jr.

    Samuel Trommler Jr. New Member

  13. Samuel Trommler Jr.

    Samuel Trommler Jr. New Member

    E0D2AB81-D9FD-4423-B549-4DE1D3C7DE20.jpeg Here’s a photo (edited for contrast and to eliminate color) showing what’s visible through the card when backlit by a bright light. So cool!!!
    NewEngland likes this.
  14. smallaxe

    smallaxe Well-Known Member

    Are two cards stuck together? Where is the ink for Burrows text?
  15. Samuel Trommler Jr.

    Samuel Trommler Jr. New Member

    It appears that two cards might’ve been glued together? The ink for the Burrows card is nowhere to be seen so it must be sandwiched inside somehow. The edge all the way around seems to be clean and tight with no evidence that two cards got stuck together inadvertently, so I’m assuming it was done intentionally? I think that’s why the edge is cut a bit unevenly in places. Because maybe someone attached the two cards and then trimmed the edge by hand all the way around to create a more “even” appearance? Who knows. So weird. Obviously Jesse James was the more notorious outlaw—even back then—so maybe the Burrows card was sacrificed for the sake of having a more robust Jesse James card?

    Anybody else have any theories?
  16. 2manybooks

    2manybooks Well-Known Member

    I have been trying to think of a simple way you might be able to date the paper(s) involved.

    Do you have a black light? Fluorescent whitening agents began to be used in papers made after 1947. If one or the other side of the card fluoresces, it would indicate the paper was made after that date. But whoever created it may have been clever enough to use old stock paper for the Jesse James side.

    It does seem more likely that it is a fabrication, as I cannot think of a legitimate reason that an "older" card would have been pasted on top of a newer card.
    Samuel Trommler Jr. likes this.
  17. Samuel Trommler Jr.

    Samuel Trommler Jr. New Member

    I do have a black light (a really good one because of the scorpion problem we have here in AZ ) and the paper does not fluoresce. But I agree with you, that doesn’t mean a whole lot. I know there’s no shortage of old paper around. Also, I have more than a hundred antique books and scores of modern books as well, and while the old paper never fluoresces like you said, the newer paper seems to fluoresce inconsistently. So yeah, another clue, but not proof.

    I just can’t figure out why a forger/hobbyist would’ve done what they did with another possibly valuable reward postcard. And I can’t find ANY examples of either card anywhere online. Weird…
    2manybooks likes this.
  18. Boland

    Boland Well-Known Member

    Well you a certainly thinking about and investigating this in a very objective manner (which is great) Anyway I’m enjoying reading this thread (thanks) It’s a very cool little item and I’m still hoping it turns out to be genuine..
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