See the very first (surprisingly handsome) selfie… from 1839

Photographer Robert Cornelius gives his best "big Philly style" take, inventing the selfie in Philadelphia in 1839.

(Credit: Library of Congress)

Many Americans have probably just become familiar with the term “selfie” in the past year or two, thanks to the rise of services like Instagram as ideal tools for feeding our vanity and narcissism. Indeed, the word has taken on such cultural velocity in recent months that the Oxford English Dictionaries saw fit to declare the often cringe-inducing pair of syllables its “word of the year.”

It’s believed that the first use of the word can be traced back to an Australian online forum post in 2002, but the art of taking one’s own self-portrait is nearly as old as photography itself.

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