Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Great eBay Frog Controversy of 2007

The Great Frog Controversy of the Summer of 2007 ended yesterday. For those who weren't following it, an eBay seller put up an "Unknown Wooden Frog Lure" for sale. With such an innocuous title, one would think that it would be just that--the sale of a unmarked frog bait, no more or less remarkable than thousands of such auctions each year.

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.


lure guy said...

The James Heddon Frog controversity of 2007 on ebay caught my attention from this google blog.I have been a small time lure maker and fisherman for many decades and have researched the seven[?] frogs in EXTREME depth.I also have handcrafted seven myself.I can understand the reason for the rude accusations to the female seller of the frog from the owners,it's to protect their investment.The hook and tie-on was attached to the super old frog body with more up to date eye hooks,logically by a resorseful person to fish with[ha ha]. If it were to deceive they would have used through the body wires like the origional. Even the pictures of the 2007 ebay frog show the origional wire holes, thats proof in it's self.You don't need a picture of James Heddon holding this lure to prove it's real.The other seven frogs don't have that proof.The eyes, being somewhat different are futher proof that fraud was never attempted as James Heddon had subtle variations.The frog that Harbin traded had many RED flags and I suspect he knew he had been taken,but that's another James Heddon Frog story altogether. So you can see in my logical opinion,the 2007 ebay frog is definately genuine,there are eight frogs and the person who paid around 100 dollars for it got the deal of the century. AS for the lady who sold it,you were victimized by the selfish haters.

michael said...

Attention: lure guy,
sir I believe to have a james heddon frog lure. I just came across your comment on the article for the "2007 eBay frog show", I'd like to get your or possibly refer me to someone knowledgeable to identify such lure. Looking forward to hearing from you. Feel free to contact me via phone @ 508-837-5379 ( I can't text) or email @ wordsofwonder75@gmail.

Thank you in advance,