Just as painted self-portraits probably existed since pigments and paints were first created, selfies have been around as long as there have been cameras.
These vintage selfies, some of which date back to the 1800s, prove that the desire to capture our own images has been around for quite some time.
As time progressed, cameras got smaller, more user-friendly and affordable, and it became simpler for anyone to take a selfie (particularly with a little help from a mirror).
Here, take a look back at more than 30 of the coolest vintage selfies from all around the world — all made by people who certainly didn’t need a filter to make their pictures look retro.
The first selfie photo known to exist: Robert Cornelius (1839)
The first known selfie was created when American photography pioneer Robert Cornelius created a daguerreotype of himself way back at the dawn of photography in 1839.
Far from being a quick point and shoot, he had to uncover the camera, jump into place, then hold his pose for around five minutes.
M.V. Lobethal’s daguerreotype selfie (1846)
An antique teen selfie (1852)
British chemist Sir William Henry Perkin took this photo of himself at age 14
Globe reflection in Glen’s Falls New York (1870s)
Seneca Ray Stoddard, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Larry J. West — c. 1870 Self-portrait
Vintage selfie by San Francisco photographer Isaiah W. Taber (1885)
Taber was a famous photographer in old San Francisco
A mirrored sphere vintage selfie (c1885)
Here’s Russian photographer Alexei Kuznetsov’s self-portrait, using a mirror ball in a greenhouse
German photo studio team in an old group selfie
Picture from the Kodak Collection at the National Media Museum (1890)
Antique “self-photo” of Henri Evenepoel (1898)
Early selfie – Unidentified woman taking her own photograph using a mirror and a box camera (roughly 1900s)
Vintage 1900s woman taking a smiling selfie in a mirror
Antique mirror selfie of two men c1900s
Woman’s mirror self-portrait (c1900)
Old self-portrait of a woman with a big camera on a tripod (c1900)
Antique mirror selfie from the late Victorian era
Australian Harold Cazneaux’s self-portrait in a mirror (1904)
Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanov’s selfie (1914)
Another one of the earliest teen selfies in history was created by the Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia in 1914.
The youngest daughter of the ill-fated Romanov family took this simple picture of herself in front of a mirror, apparently to send to a friend.
Self-portrait of Australian military aviator Thomas Baker (c1917)
Paul Stang: Self-portrait in Norway (c1910)
Paul Stang was a self-taught Norwegian photographer who took a selfie against a beautiful Nordic backdrop.
Is this the first group selfie ever?
Photographer Joseph Byron & his NYC photo studio team — known especially for their pictures of stage celebrities — went on the roof of their Manhattan building to take a series of selfies back in 1920. (See more from this day below.)
Taking the photo above
From a different angle, here’s a shot from the photo session shown above of these men making vintage selfie history!
Caption on the picture below reads: “The way the photograph was made on the roof of the Marceau Studio, Fifth Ave, opposite St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dec. 1920.”
NY Photographer Joseph Byron’s vintage self-portrait photo (1920)
One more snap from the same day as the two pictures above — this time the boss took his solo selfie.
A young woman with a hat took this old mirror selfie photo (c1920s)
Vintage selfie of a man in Gary, Indiana (1924)
Two boys taking a mirror self-portrait (c1930)
Young Frank Sinatra’s mirror selfie from 1938
ALSO FROM THE 1930s: See Dorothea Lange’s iconic Migrant Mother photos from the Great Depression
Polish photojournalist Julia Pirotte selfie (1930)
Woman taking a vintage mirror selfie photo (1938)
This photo of Mattie B‘s grandmother was taken with a camera that survived into the 21st century.
Vintage selfie of a woman from 1942
Credit Foto Fortepan — Orosz Helena
Vivian Maier reflected in a shop window self-portrait (1950s)
Colin Powell selfie circa 1954
The former Secretary of State/retired four-star general took this mirror portrait when he was around 17 years old.
Buzz Aldrin’s famous spacewalk selfie (1966)
During his first stand-up spacewalk on Nov. 12, 1966, Buzz Aldrin photographed landmarks on Earth.
While doing so, he set his camera on the edge of the hatch, pointing it in his direction. He then took what he now describes as “the first space selfie.” (Credit: NASA/Buzz Aldrin)
Even a crow took a selfie back in 1912
The Crow’s self-photograph — A photograph of a crow by himself
“Mr. H.R. Caret invented a device by which a crow took a photograph of himself when we pecked the bait, which was connected with a string that operated the shutter of the camera.”