CooperToons HomePage Caricatures Alphabetical Index Random Selection Previous Next

Soapy Smith

Soapy Smith

Although currently not as famous to the popular mind as many Old West characters, confidence man Jefferson Randolph "Soapy" Smilth has nonetheless been the subject of more biographies than some American presidents.

Soapy received his sobriquet when he began selling soap with what appeared to be a perfectly legitimate marketing technique. He'd set up a streetside stand with his soap packages, and with sufficient ostentation, announced some of the packets had a monetary prize - ranging from $1 to $100 - wrapped in with the soap. On the surface there was nothing wrong with Soapy's modus operandi any more than attracting customers with any other door prize or raffle.

Well, all was not what it seemed. A couple of customers would buy some of the packages and open the wrapper. Then with whoop and holler they'd brandish the money they found and would go through the town spreading the word. The rush would be on, and soon Soapy would be sold out. He naturally vanished before anyone caught on to the fact the first customers to find the money were Soapy's partners, and the soap actually being sold had no bills in the wrappers or anywhere else.

Of course, Soapy was also expert at the more standard ways to fleece a sucker. Rather than provide more details, CooperToons will direct all those interested to the Soapy Smith Preservation Trust at