This Vintage Camera Ad Shows Us How to Selfie in 1912

The ladies of 1912 were toying with the idea of selfies long before the smartphone era – or so this vintage camera ad seems to suggest.

The recent decade saw the world so enamored in selfies that it has gone from a seemingly innocent preoccupation to an obsession likened to a mental disorder. But, self-portraiture isn’t only a thing of recent times, and there are several things that prove it. One of them is a vintage camera ad showing how it was done way back in 1912 — or not.

We’re been browsing around r/vintageads as of late, in search of some interesting vintage camera stuff, and we weren’t disappointed. A post revealed to us this interesting ad published on the pages of Ladies’ Home Journal in May 1912.  Okay, the lady in the illustration may not be taking a selfie, as the shutter is on the side of the lens and is pressed using a shutter release (that thing dangling on the side of the camera). But the way she’s holding the camera has become so commonplace as a selfie “stance” that it’s easy to jump to that conclusion.

In case you’re curious about the camera featured in the ad, it’s most likely an ANSCO No. 3A Folding Buster Brown, which took postcard-sized photos on roll film and launched around 1912 or 1913. Redbellows.co.uk also tells us that the wooden, horizontal style folding camera body was covered in black imitation leather and was equipped with a leather handle on one end. The removable back also has the patent date (September 20, 1910) stamped. Interestingly, the viewfinder is on the baseboard, and the focus setting swings in an arc to pre-set the distance on the lens.

On a side note, if you’re really interested, you can also read up on the first “selfie in photography history, or the first staged photograph which also happened to be a self-portrait.

One last thing to note in this vintage camera ad is the fact that there were already cameras at the time specifically marketed toward female photographers. This was especially prominent in the so-called Kodak Girl ads depicting women as intrepid travel photographers. So, to see this in a non-Kodak ad is also interesting!