As you can see from the picture, this "unknown frog" bears a resemblance to the original hand-carved James Heddon Frog that basically is the rarest Heddon bait ever made.
I don't think the seller was prepared for the reaction to her auction--which in my opinion bears little to no resemblance to a real Heddon frog. In a remarkable series of correspondence, the seller (who may or may not have known that it was a reproduction) gets increasingly defensive in her responses. Here is a sample from one eBayer who wrote her:
I say, you have no idea what you are talking about. I have owned one of the only seven verified Heddon frogs, and was instrumental in discovering and identifying one of the others. In addition, I have personally handled and inspected two of the remaining authentic baits. This, my friend, is no Heddon frog. And for all the so-called experts you've heard from who quote their BOOKS, I'd enthusiastically advise that they get some hands on experience instead of paging through a $20 stack of paper. There are several red flags which clearly discredit this bait as not authentic to the experts. Unfortunately the bidding already stands at twice what the lure is worth as a reproduction and will likely go higher. I just hope the high bidder is someone who so fanatically advised on the it's legitimacy based on a picture book.
The seller responded: For your information this lure has been to an NFLCC show and has been shown to lure collectors, a couple of which have some stature in this field. Here are their comments. "Does not appear to be a recent lure and could very well be from that early period" "May or may not be a heddon" "Unless you have some provenance you will never be able to prove what it is" "Most of the older collectors or people who own or have owned a heddon frog will never believe it is real" "So until you come up with a picture of James Heddon holding this frog all you have is a "HAND MADE FROG" I did not include this information in the listed because, as I have stated, I did not want to even hint that it may be a heddon. So as I see it, you do not know and no one knows for sure what this thing is other than the person who made it. Just because it doesn't look like one to you doesn't mean it isn't one...
Ah, yes, Hope springs eternal. It would have been an extremely clever ruse to let others bring up the "Heddon" word for you! Not that I'm accusing her of being disingenuous, mind you...
A final example from another eBayer's query:
I see your selectivity in which questions you post and which you don't. I will be letting the high bidder know that this is a FAKE, and by the looks of it you know it is too.
Here is her response:
I was told once it is better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are an idiot than to open it and remove all doubt. You sir opened your mouth. Now to the important part. I have only answered a hand full of the tons of questions, suggestions, offers and best wishes omitting the ones with phone numbers, names and email addresses. I don't know anything about this lure other than what I said. If I had I wouldn't have listed it as an unknow. If I was trying to cheat anyone I would have mentioned the name Heddon some where in the post but I didn't. All I did was say it was hand made and the furtile minds of all you experts erupted into what has become a pathetically funny situation. And since it looks similar to the heddon frog it is assumed that I am a cheat and out to fool someone. I didn't make this thing. It came into my possession and I listed it for sale to anyone that wanted it. I gave all the info I know. To the people who gave honest opinions I thank your for your time and efforts. To the rest of you experts, who by the way have no way of knowing one way or the other if this is a Heddon frot or not, I suggest that you grab each ear and with a twisting motion, pulling at the same time, remove your head from where the sun doesn't shine. Alice
Actually, there are many ways to tell this isn't a Heddon frog. As the final auction price of $102.50 shows, everyone else knew it too. Although to be honest, that's a hefty price to pay for a reproduction Heddon frog.
Those interested in seeing the auction themselves can Click Here. Those who want to jump straight to the fascinating Q&A can Click Here.
If only all eBay auctions were this interesting to watch!
-- Dr. Todd
PS Why is it that in situations like this where numerous people request better pics for an eBay auction, the camera is either 1) broken, or 2) not functioning properly? Has anyone ever seen a fraudulent item sold with high quality photographs? I'm not insinuating anything, but take a look at the difference between the fuzzy darkness of the "Unknown Frog" photos and these pics from one the seller's recent auctions.