Mattie on a Hot Stove, 1902

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This early selfie shows photographer Mattie Gunterman being punished for some transgression at the Nettie L cookhouse near Ferguson, British Columbia by sisters Annie and Rose Williams, ca. 1902.

Mattie Gunterman (on stove) and Ann and Rose Williams, Nettie L mine cookhouse, Ferguson, ca. 1903. (Vancouver Public Library)

The photo has appeared in numerous books and magazines since it was first published in Bruce Ramsey’s Ghost Towns of British Columbia in 1963. Ramsey was there when the glass plate negative was salvaged from a barn in Beaton in July 1961. It’s now held by the Vancouver Public Library.
At the turn of the 20th century, portraits were usually stiffly posed and subjects showed no emotion or frowned (smiling was either illegal until the 1920s or hadn’t been invented yet). So humorous images from that era are something of a revelation.

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