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Forensic science now impugns an ambrotype image claimed to be Jesse Woodson James. The forensic report concludes the image is not America’s iconic historical figure at all.
A forensic science paper titled “Analysis of an Ambrotype to Find Out if it is an Authentic Image of Jesse James” was written and published by Mark David Bampton, a native of Great Britain. The paper first appeared on Academia.edu, and now is republished in its entirety below with permission.
Applying his knowledge of forensic science acquired over many years, Mark Bampton has made a name for himself in the U.S. as a forensic analyst of historical photographic images. His masterful forensic debunking of the Bob Ford/Jesse James photo hoax definitively lay to rest a claimed Jesse James tintype image as being a fraud.
Most recently, Bampton garnered more distinction when he applied his forensic science skills to an image claimed to be famed Mississippi blues man Robert Johnson. American musicologists who engaged the controversy beforehand have coalesced in the end behind Bampton’s meticulous analysis. In the case of the Robert Johnson image, Bampton’s analysis went beyond facial recognition alone so far as to scrutinize the hands of the blues artist.
THE RED FLAGS
The present ambrotype claimed to be Jesse James is owned by Patrick Taylor Meguiar. He has consigned the artifact for auction to Addison and Sarova, an antiquarian book dealer in Georgia.
Prior to consignment, Meguiar’s artifact and claim raised a host of red flags. When Meguiar sought the opinion of his artifact from the Jesse James family, he made claims that were not substantiated. When promoting the artifact on its web site, the auction firm furthermore relied upon and created fictionalized history, to promote the questionable artifact for auction sale.
Eric F. James had no difficulty pointing out what he perceived as significant discrepancies in Meguiar’s image and claim. James is the genealogist, family historian, and archivist of an archive of family documents pertaining to the Jesse James family. His archive includes 250 years of authentic James family images, plus an extensive archive of images that have claimed to be Jesse James or his brother Frank James, collected over the past 150 years. Recently, James produced a video showing the genetic physical characteristics of the men of the Jesse James family. On average, James receives 3-4 claimed images every month. Most all of them never are subjected to forensic science analysis.
FIRST RESPONSE OF THE JESSE JAMES FAMILY
Writing to Patrick Meguiar, James was quick with his replay and opinions.
“First to the image:
“Attached you will find a side by side comparison between your image and one of Jesse James.
“To the untrained eye, it would appear easy to see why your image might claim to be that of Jesse James. However, when left to scientific forensic analysis, there’s much to be said. I will simply address those particulars identifiable to me.
“Clearly, these two subjects are not the same age. Jesse James is about 16 when this image was taken. The subject of the claimed image appears to be almost a decade older at least. Forensic analysis would take this into account. Still, enough physical features can be compared.
“The forehead in a professional analysis would be measured for comparison of mathematical spatial metrics. From my view, they appear similar, but each displays a different hairline. There also appears to be some spatial formations that do not comport. The JJ image is broader. The claimed image appears more narrow in compactness. Again, mathematical metrics would measure this very precisely.
“The eyebrows are dissimilar. Typical of the Jesse James family, one eyebrow is arched and the other curved. Both are arched severely in the claimed image, very unlike any image to be found among the archive of images from the James family.
“The eyes are shaped differently in each. However, JJ’s eyes are more deeply set, more round than almond, and are not subject to as heavy an overhang of fatty eye tissue. The spatial relationship of the eyes to the nose also differ.
“The noses differ also, JJ’s being longer with the typical James base that arises up and forward from the area above the lip. The base of the nose on the claimed image does not rise, nor is it as widely spaced. The spatial relationships between lower nose and upper lip also differ.
“The cheekbones differ, too. By the time JJ was the age of the subject in the claimed image, his cheekbones would grow more pronounced.than that of the claimed subject. They also are more widely set. The same could be said of the upper jawbone, which among the James is as pronounced as that of the claimed image.
“Below the nose, the most telling discrepancies appears among the base jawline, jaw formation, lip formation, and their spatial relationships. Unlike the flat horizontal lower jaw of the James, the claimed image displays a rounded jaw line and bulbous jaw. The typical lip formation of the James, evident in the JJ image, of full lower lip and an indented upper lip drawn very widely beyond the width of the nose formation, does not appear the same in the claimed image, which is tight, lacks definition, and is no more wide than the width of the subject’s nose. No James image displays such a narrowly drawn lip.
“Below all this is the neck, JJ’s neck being elongated like most among his family, and the claimed image displaying a truncated neck depth.
“All of this leads me to conclude that you should not waste any money to have your image authenticated. I do not believe it to be an authentic image of Jesse Woodson James.”
A comparison of the initial perception by James with the measured and scientific analysis by Mark David Bampton reveal the two, not only arrived at the same conclusion, they arrived at the same conclusion for virtually the same reasons. Neither James nor Bampton had conferred with one another beforehand or during their independent analysis.
MARK DAVID BAMPTON’S FORENSIC ANALYSIS
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DOWNLOAD Mark David Bampton’s paper in pdf format.
UNDER THE BLACK FLAG?
Initially, James casually considered the man in the ambrotype might be William Clark Quantrill under whose black flag Frank and Jesse James briefly served. Upon closer examination of his archive of authentic Quantrill images, James discarded the thought as improbable.
OR UNDER WHO ?
Following his reading of Mark Bampton’s paper, James revisited the question of who the man in the ambrotype might be.
A comparison of an image of Patrick Taylor Meguiar with his childhood image plus an image of Patrick Meguiar’s father, leads James to suspect the man in the ambrotype is a relative from Meguiar’s past. When James compared historical images of Patrick Meguiar’s, he noted remarkable similarities among Meguiar’s legitimate ancestors and the man in the claim image. None of the legitimate ancestry of Patrick Meguiar was known in the period to the ancestry of Jesse Woodson James.
James knows that forensic science has proved the man in the ambrotype is not Jesse Woodson James. The evidence and proof made public in Mark Bampton’s independent forensic analysis report is available for anyone to see. What remains unseen is the evidence and proof of Patrick Meguiar’s claim. Patrick Meguiar still must prove who is the man in his ambrotype.