Rooftop Photo from the 1920s May be the First Group Selfie in History

We’ve shared what we believe to be the first ever selfie in history, but we’ve never had occasion to share the photograph you see being taken in the image above. Taken in the 1920s on a rooftop in New York City, what you see being captured might very well be the first ever group selfie… although we’re pretty sure they didn’t call it that.

Frankly, the photo of this group taking a selfie is a bit cooler than the resulting image we have — even an iPad seems tame compared to holding this massive box out for an exposure — but the actual ‘first group selfie’ is pretty fascinating as well:

Uncle Joe Byron, Pirie MacDonald, Colonel Marceau, Pop Core, Ben Falk-New York Dec. 1920.

Notice this isn’t the exact photo being taken in the exposure at the top, but it’s likely it was taken during the same ‘selfie session’

The photographs, which were both taken nearly a century ago in December of 1920, show the photographers of the Byron Company — one of New York’s pre-eminent commercial photography studios from 1892 to 1942, according to the New York Times.

From left to right we have Joseph Byron, Pirie MacDonald, Colonel Marceau, Pop Core and Ben Falk, with Byron and Falk tasked with holding the heavy camera during the exposure. No word on which of these gentlemen decided to apply the gaudy retro-style filter…

To learn more about either of these images or browse through the rest of The Byron Company digital archive, head over to the Museum of the City of New York website by clicking here.

(h/t ClassicPics)

Image credits: Photographs from the Collections of the Museum of the City of New York

  • Mojo

    Is anyone else getting sick of the so-called word “selfie”? Call me crazy, but perhaps we shouldn’t be taking our lingo from 12 year old girls…

  • Leonardo Abreu


  • Chris

    You hit the nail on the head.

  • Woody ONeal

    Could also be the first image taken of the Monopoly Man.

  • gochugogi

    “selfie” used mean something else when I was growing up…

  • Adam Cross

    because only 12 year old girls could have possibly come up with such a word…. ugh. Anyway, I guess it doesn’t matter that the word was in use before most of our current batch of 12 year olds were even born; by people who would now be in their mid 30’s.


    this is getting ridiculous

  • Mojo

    I’m in my 30’s and I’ve never heard it until last year. If anyone had said it before last year, I’d have assumed doing a “selfie” was something quite dirty.

  • Mojo

    I know, right?

  • Mojo

    Then again, you could be right. The arrested development of our generation could easily produce ridicules “words” like this.

  • Infamous Flow Parkour

    Ugh, saying the “selfie” is so annoying. Give stuff a break sometimes, always wearing
    phrases out due to excessively
    using or saying them. “Yolo” for example. Everyone hates that
    phrase xD.

  • Adam Cross

    the first recorded use of the word to mean a self portrait was recorded in 2002 on an Australian forum. But don’t listen to me, that’s what Google is for

  • Mojo

    Great, go ahead and use the word. I really don’t care if you do. You’ll just sound like a sissy.

  • Adam Cross

    “You’ll just sound like a sissy” well, who sounds like a 12 year old now?