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Banjos in Old Photos
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Author:  paulrace [ Wed Aug 22, 2018 7:36 am ]
Post subject:  Banjos in Old Photos

An alert reader noticed that a photo of a blackface minstrel I used in my article on the Evolution of Banjos was reversed from the original.

Attachment:
blackface_minstrel.jpg
blackface_minstrel.jpg [ 16.62 KiB | Viewed 39689 times ]


He wrote:

ERRATA
(if you ignore the drone strong being on the wrong side of the neck)
photo of the blackface minstrel shown above was "flopped"
Between 1960 and 1880

----------------------------------------

Very observant. The vast majority of portrait photos taken in the 1850-1870 timeframe were printed as mirror images, due to the technology of the day. People who played banjo had two choices - hold the banjo left-handed, so the photo would look like they were holding a left-handed banjo right-handed. Or hold the banjo right-handed and look like they were playing a left-handed banjo left-handed. I have explained this to folks countless times, but it doesn't seem to sink in. For that reason, sometimes when I use a photo of a banjo-player (or fiddler) from that era I flop it instead of trying to explain why it looks "backwards" or some such. I have seen the "flopped" and "unflopped" version of this one. I may have flopped this graphic myself.

Have a great weekend,

- Paul

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