November 11, 2010

Is this a photograph of Soapy Smith?

I received the above photograph and question from an unnamed source at the Skagway Convention and Visitors Bureau in Alaska.

Jeff, is this really Soapy? It is on page 78 of "Gold Rush: the Yukon Stampede of 1898" by Margaret Poynter, 1979. She does not give credit for this photo.

My first response would be "no," however, I might say the very same thing if asked the same question about some of the known photographs of Soapy had I never seen them before. What do you, the reader think?



  1. I do not think so least not in total.

    There seems to be something wrong with this photo. The head with hat, does not seem to go with the body!
    Note the lighter 'gray' tone of the coat, tie,shoes and pants. Then note the darker tone of the beard and hat.
    Also, the head seems too large for the body. Look at the photo again and envision a slightly smaller head on the shoulders....that would seem more realistic IMO.

    Conclusion: The had looks like it was pasted on the body.
    I do not believe it was photo-shopped....and if it was, it is a very poor job.

  2. Conclusion redone: The 'head' looks like it was pasted on the body.

    The more I look at this photo the stranger it looks. Due to the over-sized head the person looks to be a little over 5 foot tall.

    Also, the outfit seems a bit off for JRS II. I believe Jeff would have a more tailored look. The figure looks a bit stocky for Jeff.

    I also have a problem with the beard. Jeff's beard came right up to his lower lip in all the photos I have seen with him bearded.

    Another thing... Jeff wore his hat further back on his head...and the hair on top of his was visible.

    Jeff's face was also narrower and more defined.

  3. Thanks Jeff.

    I may be pushing it here...but, you know those plywood body cut-outs found at some carnivals and circuses?

    This looks like some guy with a beard walked up and stuck his face in the head hole. LOL

  4. Ok, so I don't think it is a photo-shop since it was published in 1979. The other pictures in the book are authentic. I don't see why someone would deliberately stage a false photo, but maybe I'm just being naive. Still, I wish Poynter would have annotated her photos.
    Two things: one is that he looks like he is sort of smiling (unusual) and two, it looks like he is wearing rings on both hands - which does not seem very Soapy like, what say you Jeff?

  5. Hi, Skagway Sleuth.

    I agree that it is not a photo-shop product and most likely an original non-retouched photograph. I also agree that the smile and rings on both hands seem so unlike Soapy's other known photographic examples.


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