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Jim Thorpe Cards and Autograph Guide

Jim Thorpe

Date of Birth: 5/28/1888

Rookie Card Year: N/A

Investment Rating: 9.0


Widely recognized as the greatest athlete of the 20th Century, Jim Thorpe cards and autographed memorabilia regularly go for huge amounts. A talented multi-sport athlete, Thorpe played professional baseball and football. He also won Gold Medals in the 1912 Olympics in both the Pentathlon and Decathlon.

While he does not have officially designated or recognized rookie cards, Thorpe does have a healthy checklist of cards in both sports produced during his playing career. His earliest baseball cards come from the 1909-1916 Max Stein Postcards and the 1912 Colgan's Chips Tin Tops. However, his most widely recognized early baseball cards are from the 1916 M101-5 series. Multiple versions of the card were released using the same picture on the front and a different ad on the back.

Far and away his most popular card is from 1933 Goudey Sport Kings. It hails from his Hall of Fame football career while a member of the Canton Bulldogs. Thorpe also has a card in 1955 Topps All-American Football. While this was released well past his playing days, it is still one of the most valuable cards in the set.

Jim Thorpe does have several cut autograph and memorabilia cards available from modern trading card releases. His first autograph card came as part of the 1999 Upper Deck Century Legends product and is a one-of-one. Thorpe's first memorabilia cards were in 2002 Donruss Elite Football Throwback Threads. The card features a swatch of material from one of Thorpe's football uniforms and is serial numbered to 75.

With regards to autographed memorabilia, authentic Jim Thorpe-signed items are beyond the means of most collectors. Those interested in pursuing a Jim Thorpe autograph should look to his cut signature cards, of which there are more than two dozen that have been produced over the years.


Top Jim Thorpe Baseball Cards

1916 M101-5 Jim Thorpe #176

Depicted as a member of the New York Giants, this card was issued with six different advertising backs, though fronts use the same photo. Each is considered a separate card issue. Available backs include Block & Kuhl, Famous & Barr, Gimbles, Holmes for Homes Bread, Morehouse Baking and Sporting News. Each card measures 1 5/8" by 3".

Jim Thorpe Cards and Autograph Guide 1

1922 Zeenut PCL Jim Thorpe #145

The colorized card depicts a die-cut of Jim Thorpe against a solid white background. There are a total of 162 cards in the set, each measuring 1 13/16" by 3-9/16". The cards are fairly rare in any condition.

Jim Thorpe Cards and Autograph Guide 2

Top Jim Thorpe Football Cards

1933 Goudey Sport Kings Jim Thorpe #6

The bright and vivid colors of the Sport Kings set have made it one of the most popular cards with pre-war collectors. The realistic art rendering provides a stunning likeness of Thorpe.

Jim Thorpe Cards and Autograph Guide 3

1955 Topps All-American Football Jim Thorpe #37

A classic card from a classic set. The colorized, full-length image in the foreground is set against a black-and-white aerial stadium photo. The result makes Thorpe look larger than life, which he truly was.

Jim Thorpe Cards and Autograph Guide 4

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Jim Thorpe Autographed Memorabilia Buying Guide

Below you will find an example of what Jim Thorpe's authentic signature looks like. This can be used as a first point of reference for determining the legitimacy of autograph memorabilia, but is not a substitute for having your items authenticated by a well-respected professional autograph authentication company. 

Jim Thorpe Cut Signature Exemplar:

Jim Thorpe Cards and Autograph Guide 5

Jim Thorpe Key Signature Attributes: An authentic Jim Thorpe signature autograph will exhibit several distinguishing characteristics. Regardless of  the type of item or when it was signed, look for the following signature features:

  1. The signature is distinct and legible.
  2. The letter "J" consists of two loops, the top forming a shape like a guitar pick and the bottom an elongated oval.
  3. The pen stays on the paper to make the "i" which is formed by a small angled up-down stroke and is dotted.
  4. The "m" has all the required humps and finishes with a small tail.
  5. The "T" is unique in that it doesn't have a top crossing line, this allows the pen to stay on the paper and flow into the "h" which has a visible loop for the vertical line.
  6. The "o" is usually fully closed and the "r" almost looks printed.
  7. The "p" contains a small elongated oval that drops below the horizontal plane and uses a small circular loop.
  8. The "e" is not open and consists of an up/down pen stroke and finishes with a tail similar to the one of the "m" but larger.

Jim Thorpe Autographed Memorabilia

Jim Thorpe's autographed material is primarily limited to cut signature cards and the occasional check or document. High-end museum-quality pieces do surface on occasion and command tens of thousands of dollars at auction. Below is a sampling of some of Thorpe's cut signature pieces.

Jim Thorpe Cards and Autograph Guide 6 Jim Thorpe Cards and Autograph Guide 7 

Jim Thorpe Cards and Autograph Guide 8

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Rob is a former member of The Cardboard Connection Writing Staff and co-host of Cardboard Connection Radio.He is an avid collector with over 20 years of active experience in the hobby.

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