Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice


    1920's Jim Thorpe Game Worn Helmet. Though Thorpe's exploits on the gridiron have become the stuff of folklore, making it impossible to calculate the ratio of fact to exaggeration, there is no question but that he was the most talented football star of his age. The stories of his halftime drop kick field goals from the fifty yard line to entertain the fans may not be gospel, but his three World Championships with the Canton Bulldogs certainly are, and when the National Football League was founded in 1920, it was Thorpe who was chosen League president by the charter members.

    Parallels could accurately be drawn between Thorpe and his iconic baseball contemporary Babe Ruth, each a "diamond in the rough," emerging from the reservation and the orphanage respectively, to establish themselves as the greatest talents (and gate attractions) of their day. Each also met his end too soon, as a result of unhealthy living, and this factor plays a key role in the survival of this historic relic.

    A 1991 notarized letter from the man who acquired this helmet from Thorpe explains that it was purchased at the Hall of Famer's family tavern in Henderson, Nevada in 1948 or 1949. He described the building as a converted World War II Quonset hut. "Sadly, Mr. Thorpe was a very poor man and more than willing to sell his memorabilia," the man writes, "sometimes without regard to the buyer's intent. He just plain needed the cash. He told me it was a helmet he had used as a pro, although he couldn't recall the exact year or team he used it with."

    The 1920's aviator style relic exhibits impressive use, and measures somewhere between 7 1/2 and 8 in size. No manufacturer's labeling is present, but the helmet is believed to be either Spalding or Stall & Dean. The model number "2345" is still legible. The helmet's exterior is a tan, soft leather with seven ventilation holes surrounding each earhole. The interior padding is soft lambswool. Carved into the interior forehead in bold block lettering is "J. Thorpe, Capt."

    Joining the original purchaser's notarized letter are two others--one from a Henderson, NV librarian and another from a well-known active collector--each attesting to research they had done that substantiates the original purchaser's recollection of the Thorpe owned tavern and his propensity toward selling his memorabilia at the time. LOA from Lou Lampson.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2009
    23rd-24th Thursday-Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 4,982

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $9) per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976

    Learn about consigning with us

    Thank you for your expertise, guidance through the auction process and for getting them top dollar for the cards.
    Mark F.,
    Rochester, NY
    View More Testimonials

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search