Tag Archives: fake photo

Lois Gibson-Sandy Mills Tintype Controversy Puzzles Great Britain – but not for long

In his forensic analysis, titled “Jesse James, Robert Ford, and the Tintype,” Great Britain’s Mark Bampton poses his question about the controversy in typical British fashion –  as a pun.

 “Who are these four?”

True Jesse James and Bob Ford-Fake Jesse James and Bob Ford
Cover image from Mark Bampton’s discourse, “Jesse James, Robert Ford, and the Tintype.”

Mark Bampton lives in Ampthill, which he describes as “a small Georgian town” in Bedfordshire, Great Britain.  Prompted by the reaction of the Jesse James family to the Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax, promoted by Lois Gibson and Sandy Mills and their circle of supporters,  Mark Bampton decided to apply his own scientific forensic analysis to the image controversy.  Not surprisingly, Bampton arrives at a different conclusion than Lois Gibson.

“It took me a little longer than expected to look into Lois Gibson’s authentication material due to the number of problems with it. From the material that I could find, I could not identify any effective analysis process.”

 

Mark Bampton
Mark Bampton of Ampthill, England

Unlike the artist Lois Gibson who claims to have authenticated Mills tintype by employing imagined photo comparisons and artistry, Bampton is not an artist. Bampton’s field is industrial design and product engineering, a profession that Bampton says requires both “artistic and technical demands.”

Instead of artistry, Bampton applied the sciences of mathematics, linear technical analysis, and measurement testing. These are the same skills Bampton employs as a product engineer. They also are the skills that a trained scientific forensic scientist normally would apply in the formal analysis of an historical image or artifact.

“I could not identify any logical or justifiable reason why Lois Gibson would authenticate the tintype…”

 Bampton soon discovered the Bob Ford/Jesse James controversy was not the only controversy involving the Houston-based artist. Lois Gibson also created a very similar controversy over an image she claimed was the famed bluesman, Robert Johnson. On the website Academia, Mark Bampton discovered that England’s newspaper The Guardian  had reported on the Jonhson controversy in an article titled, “‘Robert Johnson’ photo does not show the blues legend, music experts say.”

 

Robert Johnson image controversy
Disputed image of famed bluesman Robert Johnson

Dr. Bruce Conforth, a university professor of American culture and a founding curator of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, was cited in The Guardian article as criticizing Lois Gibson’s authentication technique.  “Historical scholarship relies on evidence,” Dr. Conforth said. “And if you look at the alleged authentication of that photograph there really wasn’t a piece of evidence, there was opinion. Historical fact is never validated by opinion; it can only be validated by evidence.”

Bampton soon discovered the reason why Lois Gibson would authenticate the claimed Bob Ford/Jesse James tintype.  when he read another article written by Dr. Bruce Conforth, that also was published on Academia. In writing “A New Analysis of the Two Accepted Photos of Robert Johnson and the Alleged 3rd Photo,” Dr. Conforth lays out the story of the Johnson image, its discovery, and Gibson’s record of association with it. This article followed two previous publications by Conforth. “Another Robert Johnson Photo Debunked” documents Conforth’s disgruntlement with the fakery surrounding the Johnson image. “The Business of Robert Johnson Fakery” is another Conforth article published in Living Blues magazine.

To Mark Bampton, the Conforth’s story already was  a familiar one. Dr. Conforth’s story of the Johnson image reflected almost precisely the sad saga of the Bob Ford/Jesse James image as related in the James family’s rebuttal to Gibson’s authentication.

Linear forensics applied to claimed Robert Johnson image
Linear forensics applied to Lois Gibson claimed image of Robert Johnson

Very familiar to Mark Bampton was the linear forensics applied to the Johnson image, that appeared in Dr. Conforth’s treatise.

Bampton decided to apply his own forensic skills upon the assumptive Bob Ford/Jesse James image.

 “I intended to make my report factual and impartial although conclusions about the veracity of the authentication were largely inevitable.”

Linear forensics applied to authentic image of Jesse James with a claimed image
Linear forensics applied by Mark Bampton to Lois Gibson’s alleged authentication of the claimed Jesse James image yields numerous discrepancies that are plainly visible.

Using several applications of linear forensics, now fully and clearly outlined in Mark Bampton’s documented report,  discrepancies proved to be multiple and evident. Not only were discrepancies revealed in the conjectural Jesse James image, they also became evident in Gibson’s uncertain Bob Ford image.

Linear forensics applied to authentic image of Bob Ford with a claimed image
Linear forensics applied by Mark Bampton to Lois Gibson’s alleged authentication of the claimed Bob Ford image yields plainly visible discrepancies.

“If this is correct, $40,250.00 is a lot to pay for a picture of two unknowns, even if it is an old tintype! Personally, I’d move the decimal place at least three places to the left.”

Mark Bampton registered shock when told by the James family that Sandy Mills’ tintype had sold at auction for $35,000, plus auction fees. The James family was informed of the sale by two regular attendees at Burley Auction Gallery events. The regulars stated that the prize bidder was not recognizable and was unknown locally.

The James family alleges that the fraud that is evident in Gibson’s hypothetical authentication may extend to the auction, too. Prior to the auction, Stray Leaves publisher, and Jesse James family biographer Eric F. James was contacted by the Houston Chronicle to schedule an interview following the auction. Given the very surprising outcome of the auction, this result should have made a gigantic news story, attracting worldwide attention. No historical image of Jesse James or the James family has ever sold for more than two thousand dollars. Eric F. James is perplexed that the Houston Chronicle did not follow through and interview him afterward as planned. Nor did the newspaper report on the auction outcome as it had planned. This was even more perplexing given the fact that Dylan Baddour of the Chronicle had broken the story initially about the pretentious tintype. Baddour previously also reported on Gibson’s alleged authentication of the Robert Johnson image.

icollector bid report
Sale report for the fake Bob Fork/Jesse James tintype is identified on icollector website

Not willing to accept one piece of oral testimony about the auction result alone, Mark Bampton uncovered secondary evidence of the auction’s outcome on icollector.com.

Of course, no evidence remains that the purchase money actually was paid, the image transferred, and the sale concluded. Nor has the winning bidder been publicly identified following the acquisition of such a prized auction artifact. Those unknowns in itself guarantees that this story will continue to be a controversy for a long time to come.

Initially, Mark Bampton titled his paper in true British fashion, using a very witty pun. He posed the question,  “Who are these four?”

The literal answer to the pun is a fake Bob Ford, a fake Jesse James, and two authentic images of them.  The non-literal answer is, whoever has benefited the most financially or in publicity from the promotion and sale. Among Lois Gibson, Sandy Mills, the auction house, and the Gibson-Mills ring of partners and supporters, a lot of unknown information remains. Ample room for conjecture is left. The wealth of criticism leveled at this controversy will not abate soon, at least not until the pun of the question finds authenticatable answers.

“I plan to do a separate paper for each of the two Robert Johnson photographs…I plan to follow a similar analysis for the Robert Johnson papers as for the Jesse James paper.”

Georgetown College
Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky

This fall, Mark Bampton will visit America to present his paper on “Jesse James, Bob Ford, and the Tintype” before the James family, their friends, and associates at the annual conference of the National James-Younger Gang Inc. The conference will be held in Georgetown, Kentucky. The public is welcome to attend.

MEET Mark Bampton:  SIGN UP for notices to attend & meet Mark Bampton at the James-Younger Gang 2017 Conference.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Mark Bampton’s entire paper now appears on the Academia website and also is free for download HERE.

CONTACT Mark Bampton

Fake Photo Reveals New Jesse James History

Jesse James in his famed pork pie hat with Larry, Curley, & Moe in Las Vegas.

Anyone who knows the history of the West probably instantly recognizes this image. When Jesse James abandoned his children and his wife and his family, he freebooted himself west to Las Vegas. Jesse had in mind to re-establish his faded and flawed career as the high wire attraction his Civil War life on the partisan trapeze had prepared him to be. Jesse fancied himself as the focus of attention by adoring vacationers who would come from all those places where formerly he had been hunted as an outlaw. He also fancied the tigers and ostrich plumed showgirls from France he expected to surrounded him and keep him safe.

In Las Vegas, Jesse was welcomed warmly by Ted Binion. Binion convinced Jesse to stop hiding his gold & hidden treasure in Oklahoma. Instead, Binion offered Jesse to stash his gold and hidden treasure inside a new machine Binion had installed in the center of his Casino for Dudes & Dudettes. Binion assured Jesse that, even though the public could see all of Jesse’s treasure through a glass window, the stash would be in the safest spot possible, because every time someone pulled the machine’s trigger to get the money, no one ever got anything out of the machine.

Ted Binion convinced Jesse James he would need an act. The Knights of the Golden Circle were due in town shortly for a secret convention in an undisclosed location. Binion knew about this from rocks with ciphered messages he had found in the desert. For all he knew, Binion said, they could be in Las Vegas already. The Knights needed to be hosted and entertained, and what the KGC liked best was inexplicable rituals. So Binion introduced Jesse James to Larry, Curley, & Moe.

As seen here, Jesse James posed with Larry, Curley, & Moe in this photograph meant to promote the new act, the image taken during Jesse’s rehearsals with the trio. Shortly after this picture was taken, the KGC informed Binion they had enjoyed the act and planned to adopt some of its features in their programs. The KGC left town as unnoticed as they had arrived.

The name of the act – Larry, Curley, & Moe, starring Jesse James – just didn’t have enough ring to draw a crowd. Once more, Jesse faced failure in his life. Having run off from everyone he knew, Jesse was alone in his world, without friends…until Binion introduced Jesse to Bugsy Siegal.

Bugsy was opening a new operation on the Las Vegas Strip. He needed some new acts. Bugsy asked Jesse, Can you sing? Only hymns, Jesse replied. No Good, said Bugsy. Can you dance, Bugsy asked. I can do a fast shuffle out of town, said Jesse. Doesn’t work me, said Bugsy. What can you do, asked Bugsy. Jesse replied, well, I’ve got this gang, or half a gang. The other half’s in prison. We rob banks. Gang, asked Bugsy. I already got a guy with a gang, named Sinatra. Finally, Bugsy Siegal advised Jesse James to leave Las Vegas, go out on the road, and work up an act. He assured Jesse, no matter if Jesse was wheeled back into his showroom on a gurney, Bugsy would hold open a spot for Jesse in his show.

So Jesse James disappeared from Las Vegas. He hit the road, disguising himself as J. Frank Dalton. Then he got the idea to make himself famous – as himself. He got some roadies, and together they wheeled Jesse all around America on a gurney, whipping up a crowd of gullible curiosity seekers. By the time Jesse James had perfected his act and felt ready to return to Las Vegas, Bugsy Siegal had been murdered. Ted Binion was dead. And Larry, Curley, & Moe were gone.

Jesse James died anonymously, as J. Frank Dalton. His show biz career never did get off the ground. But thank goodness for all those pictures of him that have survived the years. Without them, people would probably think he actually was killed by Bob Ford.