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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • SUMMER IN ITALY, 1951

Droll Soldiers: 1860s

Droll Soldiers: 1860s

More Civil War cutups. "Unidentified men in Union uniforms, one pointing a revolver at another's head." Half-plate tintype, hand-colored. Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs, Library of Congress. View full size.

 

Starr Pistol

Jim Page, I agree completely, It's definitely the DA version of the Model 1858. I had forgotten that tintypes were mirror images and wondered why the left side of the pistol had all the goodies on it. Strange weapon indeed.

Holding hands?

Tell me why.
?

[Because in those days, male friends were able to do that without people asking, "Why?" -tterrace]

Not flipped for the subject.

When you behold your Daguerreotyped likeness, you behold your countenance as you have come to know and love it in your favorite mirror, pond, or other reflective device. It's only other people who will note a discrepancy.

Lesson learned

Thanks Dave for the explanation as to why these old images should remain backwards. I wasn't aware, due to everyday ignorance of the subject, of the esthetic you mentioned. Now I know. SHORPY.com forever.

Flip the digital image?

Understood. Tintypes, being camera-original positives, will always be reversed unless the camera was fitted with a mirror or prism. Got it. But, why wouldn't SHORPY reverse the digital image so the viewer would get an accurate version of that particular 1860's reality? Or, is it in the interest of historical photographic accuracy that SHORPY leaves it the way it was created back then?

[Because that's the way these boys have looked for the past 150 years, behind glass in their ornate frames, locked in mirror image for all eternity. Unless popular opinion says otherwise! But really, backwardness is part of the tintype-daguerreotype esthetic. - Dave]

Left and Right

Tintypes, being camera-original positives, will always be reversed unless the camera was fitted with a mirror or prism.

[A point that bears repeating! - Dave]

The picture is a reverse image.

Buttons on mens clothing are always on the right side of the shirt, vest and coat - then and now.

[Tintypes, being camera-original positives, will always be reversed unless the camera was fitted with a mirror or prism. - Dave]

The Image Is Flipped

unless Union uniforms buttoned up the girl side. Also, the amount of space behind the pistol's trigger means it's the double-action model.

[Tintypes, being camera-original positives, will always be reversed unless the camera was fitted with a mirror or prism. - Dave]

Not a left handed gun

Yes, the picture is flipped left to right. One way to tell is that the buttons appear on the wrong side of their clothing, though that could conceivably be accounted for some other way. However, that's the right side of the pistol we can see in the picture; definite proof that the picture is flipped.

Similarly, it's from the rifle Billy the Kid is holding that we're absolutely certain the famous picture of him was flipped and he was not left handed.

[Tintypes, being camera-original positives, will always be reversed unless the camera was fitted with a mirror or prism. - Dave]

Lefties or righties?

Unless men's clothing styles have changed radically since the 1860s, this picture is indeed reversed.

Note how all the coats and waistcoats are buttoned right over left, whereas men's clothes traditionally button left over right.

[Tintypes, being camera-original positives, will always be reversed unless the camera was fitted with a mirror or prism. - Dave]

Starr Pistol

History_Fan, I agree it's a Starr .44 pistol, but it looks more like the double-action model to me. Do you think it could be that model?

Raises hand

Their buttons are backwards so the posted image is backwards.

[Tintypes, being camera-original positives, will always be reversed unless the camera was fitted with a mirror or prism. - Dave]

The revolver is a Starr arms

Starr arms is a rather unusual civil war revolver - from Binghamton NY. Dixie gun works sells a reproduction, and I won't plagiarize their description of the unusual action - other than to say the trigger you see doesn't actually fire the revolver.

Backwards photo?

Well, if I'm not mistaken, men's shirts and coats have the buttons sewn on the right side (looking down as you wear the shirt)and the holes or loops are on the left. Looks like it might be backwards after all.

[Tintypes, being camera-original positives, will always be reversed unless the camera was fitted with a mirror or prism. - Dave]

The photo has been reversed

You can tell because the buttons appear on the left side of the jackets.

[Tintypes, being camera-original positives, will always be reversed unless the camera was fitted with a mirror or prism. - Dave]

Daguerreotypes are the Mirror World

Almost all Daguerreotypes are flipped left right, so it's a good bet this one is too.

[This is a tintype. - Dave]

Backwards post?

Can anyone tell if this picture is posted backwards? If so, how do you know?

[Tintypes, being camera-original positives, will always be reversed unless the camera was fitted with a mirror or prism. - Dave]

Nice Pistol

The soldier's pistol is interesting and rather odd looking. I believe it to be a fancier version of the Starr Model 1863 Single Action Army in .44 cal.

Anyone have a better guess?

Hilarious!

The guy on the left is cracking up.

On his own

Everyone is touching someone else except the fellow on the right... wonder why?

What a difference

Fascinating to note the cultural differences evident in the poses of these young men compared with what one would see today. The man in the center holding the hand of the man standing behind him, and the man sitting at left with his hand on the upper leg of the man in the center are things you just wouldn't see in these more self-concious times.

It doesn't look to me as if the man with the gun is actually pointing it at ANYTHING; rather, he seems simply to be holding it in a manner of display that was quite common in that era.

"I wanna hold your hand"

Don't ask, don't tell -- or I'll kill you....

Forget about the gun

Can you imagine straight guys today posing casually with their hands on one another's thighs and holding hands?

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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