Carlisle memorabilia collector Frank Loney asked my opinion about a photo that is currently up for sale on ebay. Immediately upon bringing up the item on ebay, I noticed that the photo could not be as advertised due to the seller’s description of it:
THIS IS AN INCREDIBLY RARE PIECE. IT IS AN ORIGINAL VINTAGE 1910 JIM THORPE FOOTBALL PHOTO. THIS WAS TAKEN AT THE CARLISLE INDIAN SCHOOL. THIS IS A 3×5″ PHOTO OF THE GREATEST ATHLETE OF ALL TIME WITH HIS TEAMMATES. INCREDIBLY AWESOME ! IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THIS PHOTO, PLEASE DON’T HESITATE TO ASK.
As anyone who is at all familiar with Jim Thorpe knows, he was not at Carlisle in 1910. So, right off the bat, the date is wrong. One of the first things one sees when looking at the photo are his teammates’ names. The only problem is that those names aren’t the names of Carlisle Indian School football players. The uniforms the players are wearing are not Carlisle uniforms. This must be some other team. When one looks closely at Thorpe’s image on the photo, it is not Jim Thorpe, or at least not the Jim Thorpe who played at Carlisle. This is clearly not a photo of a Carlisle Indian School football team.
Frank contacted the seller before I looked at the photo and got this response:
“this was purchased at sotheby’s auction. after examination by auction house. it was determined to be between 1908-1912. the picture came from his estate and is 100% legit. the other players were from the carlisle indian school which was a college. thank you.”
As we all know, Carlisle was never a college and never purported to be one. If Sotheby’s actually examined the photo, which I doubt, they blew it. All they needed was five minutes with Steckbeck’s book to determine this was neither Jim Thorpe nor the Carlisle Indians. This may well be an interesting photo but of different people and another team.
Be careful out there. Things aren’t always what they seem.