Breaking News

By Peter J. Nash

Sept. 16, 2014

A "Shoeless" Joe Jackson fake (top left) sourced to Barry Halper (bottom right) is up for sale at Huggins & Scott.

-Huggins & Scott thought they had a “Shoeless” Joe Jackson treasure on the block in their current Fall sale, but it’s nothing but a misrepresented fraud. The item is a 1918 panoramic photo alleged to feature an image of Jackson dressed in his military uniform at Fort Meade in Maryland. That, however, is impossible.

-Joe Jackson never served in the military and the face of the individual H&S claims is Jackson clearly has facial features that illustrate he is not the Chicago White Sox star who was banished from baseball after the 1919 World Series fix.  The only evidence suggesting that Jackson is in the photograph is a handwritten inscription on the back of the period frame which identifies Jackson specifically.  That inscription, however, was placed on the item to decieve and defraud potential buyers.

-Michael Calvello, of New Jersey, is the consignor of the photo and he took to collector forum Net54 back in July to show off his alleged treasure which he said was from the Barry Halper Collection.  Since July he received all sorts of accolades from collectors like Denny Walsh who called the photo “truly brilliant” and a collector named Bill Gregory from Flower Mound, Texas, who called it “exquisite,” despite being forewarned by the owner that the photo was “ex-Halper.”  The reverse of the frame includes an inscription referencing a past auction sale stating, “Former property Barry Halper, NY, Lot 210, May 1995.” Other collectors questioned the identification more seriously after the Huggins & Scott sale preview was posted online and Hauls of Shame took to Twitter to call the photo a fraud last weekend.

-Josh Wulkan of Huggins & Scott sent Hauls of Shame a bizarre email on behalf of his consignor claiming that REA President Rob Lifson made an “exact match” and  ordering us to retract our Twitter post. He added:

“MY PANORAMIC PHOTOGRAPH OF SHOELESS JOE JACKSON IS AUTHENTIC. IT WAS LOOKED AT BY ROBERT EDWARDS PRESIDENT ROBERT LIFSON AND FACIAL COMPARISON TO KNOWN PHOTOGRAPHS OF JOE JACKSON IN 1917, 1918 AND 1919 WERE COMPARED AND AN EXACT MATCH WAS MADE.”

Huggins & Scott's Josh Wulkan (center) is offering two bogus Joe Jackson items despite having information supporting claims that a broadside (left) and a WWI panoramic photo are both frauds.

-Hauls of Shame sent an email to Huggins & Scott informing them we had determined that the face of the individual in the photo was not Jackson and that the lot was a fraud.  It’s not difficult to determine even with the low resolution images posted by the auction house that the ears and chin did not “match” as the seller stated.  Our opinion was echoed by SABR Pictorial History Committee co-chairman Mark Fimoff, Jackson researcher Mike Nola, authenticator Dave Grob and a host of other hobby figures.  Despite the overwhelming evidence suggesting the item is a fraud, Josh Wulkan of H&S dug in deeper and embarrassed himself and his employer posting on Net54:”We are running this photo because we believe it is “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. There is evidence to support that he toured various military operations in and around the Mid-Atlantic area following his tenure in the Bethlehem Steel League and prior to Spring Training of 1919.”

-Huggins & Scott was also informed by us that the alleged Joe Jackson broadside being offered in the current sale is also a fraud and has been considered a recently produced fantasy item for several decades by dealers auctioneers and collectors.  The “Black Crows” fakes first surfaced in the early 1990s and were accompanied by several spectacular frauds alleged to be signed Jackson baseballs, game used bats and correspondence from Ty Cobb to Jackson. One major auctioneer told us, “100% fake. They (Huggins & Scott) should be pulled. The same guy had other bad stuff.”

The bogus Jackson broadside in the H&S auction features a font known as "Extra Bold" and wasn't designed until 1952 making it virtually impossible for the poster to be vintage and genuine.

UPDATE: A SABR member contacted us and shed some more light on the fonts used in the alleged Joe Jackson broadside and the information only suggests our contention that the item is counterfeit.  The learned gentleman told us:

“The boldface font here appears to be Futura Extra Bold.  While Futura appeared for the first time in 1927, the Extra Bold font was not designed (by Edwin W. Shaar) until 1952.”

JSA and James "Jimbo" Spence III (right) authenticated a Hugh Jennings forgery on a bat sold at Hunt Auctions (left). Jimmy Spence Jr. had previously authenticated the entire 1910 Tiger team on the same bat in 2001 but now says only the Jennings signature is genuine.

The SABR member also doubted that Jackson would have been allowed to play in a National or American League ballpark after his banishment:

“While I cannot attest to this certainly, it seems doubtful to me that any NL or AL park post-1934 would host a game featuring any of the Black Sox. Landis denied Jackson’s application for reinstatement to minor league levels in 1934.”

On Twitter, graphic artist Todd Radom offered yet another clue that the Jackson broadside is a fake.

-Todd Radom, a graphic artist who designed the logo for Super Bowl XXXVIII, took to Twitter to inform us that the auction broadside incorporated, “Inch marks as opposed to true quote marks.  Done on a computer, not composed with metal type.”

-JSA continues their apparent fraudulent authentication practices as Jimmy Spence Jr. and Jimmy “Jimbo” Spence III rejected a Hunt Auctions lot alleged to have been a 1910-era baseball bat signed by the Detroit Tigers. The bat had already been authenticated by Jimmy Spence at PSA/DNA in 2001, but the current JSA certification claims that only the Hughie Jennings signature on the bat is genuine while all of the others are “clubhouse.” Where do we begin here?  Clubhouse signatures on a 1910 era baseball bat?  In reality, all of the signatures on the bat are forgeries that resemble the quality of “Coaches Corner” offerings.  Despite the fact that JSA and Spence already admit they were wrong in 2001 on every single signature except the Jennings, gullible collectors were still willing to believe that the current authentication of the Jennings was legitimate.  The Jennings is, however, an awful forgery and the buyer of the lot at Hunt Auctions was defrauded by the auction house and JSA.

-Michael Johnson is the plaintiff in a pending class action lawsuit against RR Auctions, Bob Eaton and Bobby Livingston. A source tells us that the “case is filed and permanently venued in Santa Barbara Superior Court, Santa Barbara, California.”  Another source tells us that attorneys are looking to expand the class with additional alleged victims. Look for more coverage on this lawsuit in the future.

UPDATE (2PM Sept. 16th): The Huggins & Scott link for the fraudulent Joe Jackson photograph shows that the lot has been pulled from the sale.  The bogus Joe Jackson “Black Crows” broadside is still up for sale.