These Might Be the First-Ever Selfies in Photographic History

First Selfie
Side view of photographers posing together for a photograph on the roof of Marceau's Studio, while Joseph Byron holds one side of the camera with his right hand and Ben Falk holds the other side with his left hand. Joseph Byron/Byron Company/Museum of the City of New York

Giving the sepia filter a whole new meaning. A mustached man in the early 1900s might be responsible for taking the first-ever selfie in photographic history.

Photographer Joseph Byron took a snap of himself in a suit and top hat way back in 1909, before also enlisting the help of his colleagues Ben Falk, Pirie MacDonald, Colonel Marceau, and Pop Core to snap a group selfie in December 1920. 

Joseph Byron, Self Portrait, 1909. Joseph Byron/Byron Company/Museum of the City of New York

In one of the vintage photos obtained by Us, the five men can be seen holding up a heavy antediluvian analog camera at arm’s length as they huddle together. The group made up the Byron Company, a photography studio founded in Manhattan in 1892, which lives on today thanks to seventh-generation photographer Thomas Byron and his son, Mark Byron. 

Uncle Joe Byron, Pirie MacDonald, Colonel Marceau, Pop Core, Benjamin Falk Joseph Byron/Byron Company/Museum of the City of New York

The selfies are just a few of the 23,000 Byron Company prints that have been added to the Museum of the City of New York’s digital collection.

The historic snaps were taken on the roof of the Marceau Studio on Fifth Avenue, across the street from St. Patrick's Cathedral, which can be seen in the background of one of the snaps.

Others, however, have argued that the first-ever selfie was taken by Robert Cornelius in 1839. According to the Library of Congress website, Cornelius took a self-portrait in the back of his family’s store by removing the lens cap and then running into the frame where he sat for a minute before covering up the lens again. On the back of the photo, he wrote, “The first light picture ever taken. 1839.” But then again, it's not really a selfie unless you’re holding the camera, right?!

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