Bonnie and Clyde signed dollar bill up for auction in Kansas

John Hancock

John Hancock

2016-02-02 11:21:32

A dollar bill signed by legendary outlaws Bonnie and Clyde is currently up for sale through Mayo Auction & Realty.

The auction house has previously sold weapons relating to the pair, including a sub-machine gun and a 12-gauge shotgun recovered following a raid on their hideout in Joplin, Missourri, which together realized $210,000 in 2012. However, company owner Robert Mayo believes the dollar bill is a more significant find.

"You could make the case that the signed dollar bill is far more important, both historically and from the point of view of a collector, because Bonnie and Clyde signatures are so incredibly rare," said Mayo. "Only four are known to exist. One is from an arrest fingerprint card. We're not aware of another instance of a single document that contains both of their signatures."

The story behind the bill dates back to the Spring of 1933, at the height of the criminal couple's notoriety, when they stopped off for lunch at the Tick Tock Café in Bowling Green, Missouri. According to legend, the cafe's cook Lemuel spotted Barrow's pistol and asked "Wow, mister, are you a G-Man?" to which Clyde replied "No, but I guess I’ve killed me a few."

After learning who they were, Lemuel asked "Can I have your autograph before they kill you?", and the couple signed their names on both sides of a dollar bill. They then paid for their meal with a $20 bill and refused the change, stating “Keep it. Those were the finest roast beef sandwiches we’ve ever eaten."

The cafe owner Lulu Byram then escorted the out of the back door to their stolen car, saying "I don’t want any trouble, but I don’t want you two getting caught either."

Decades later, Lemuel gifted the autographed banknote to its current owner Tony Byram, the cafe owner's grandson, during a visit at Straubes Nursing Home. Having been authenticated by Curt Baggett, a forensic document examiner who compared the signatures to the four known existing ones, the note is now up for sale.

Bidding is now open in the online-only auction, which ends on March 1.

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