Creek Don't Rise

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.

blackface_minstrel.jpg [ 16.62 KiB | Viewed 57199 times ]

He wrote:

(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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