These trailblazers took selfies before selfies were a thing

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Robert Cornelius made photography history with the first known self-portrait taken in 1839.
Robert Cornelius made photography history with the first known self-portrait taken in 1839.
Photo: Library of Congress

There was no selfie stick, no hashtags and no sharing with his BFF. In fact, when Robert Cornelius took his historic selfie, he sat still as a stone for 15 minutes, then watched the photo slowly appear on a silver-plated sheet of copper as he breathed in dangerous mercury fumes.

That was instant gratification in 1839.

Cornelius, using a wooden box fitted with an opera glass, likely deserves credit for taking the world’s first selfie. He didn’t make the picture out of vanity, but as an experiment to test a silver-plating method for the daguerreotype photographic process, which had been introduced worldwide just three months before Cornelius’ self-portrait.

The simple patent drawing was once a work of art

A flying machine from the 1860s drawn with shading, colors and detail not seen in today's patent illustrations.
A flying machine from the 1860s drawn with shading, colors and detail not seen in today's patent illustrations.
Photo: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

The illustration that accompanies a patent application is a first glimpse inside the head of the inventor. Finally, an idea becomes a possibility, and even if an invention later proves to be impractical or an outright failure, the drawing serves as a tangible record of humanity’s quest to solve problems and move forward.
 
But the modern day patent sketches are stark chicken scratches compared to the intricately detailed, da Vinciesque artworks that once accompanied applications to the United States Patent & Trade Office, which first opened in 1790.

SuicideGirls give ripoff artist a taste of his own medicine

Richard Prince sold and Instagram screen shot for thousands, but the original owner will sell it on a deep discount.
Richard Prince sold Instagram screenshots for thousands of dollars, but the original owner will sell it on a deep discount.
Photo: SuicideGirls

You can spend $90,000 on a Richard Prince “piece of art.” Or you can get the same thing from the original source he ripped off at a 99 percent discount.

Prince used screenshots of people he followed on Instagram and converted them into a large inkjet paintings he then sold for thousands of dollars. Prince did not alert the subjects their Instagram shares were being displayed and sold.

Some of the images were from the popular trend-setting SuicideGirls, whose founder has offered the same pictures printed in the same way for sale for $90 on its website.

Artist Richard Prince cashes in on others’ Instagram photos

Inkjet "paintings" from a body of work by Richard Prince from Instagram.
Inkjet "paintings" from a body of work by Richard Prince from Instagram.
Photo: Collector Daily

Instagram users, adjust your privacy setting and remember the name Richard Prince.

Should he request to follow you, he could one day “appropriate” your pictures and make thousands of dollars off you.

Prince featured 38 screenshots from his Instagram feed in a show in New York City last fall and at the Frieze Art Fair earlier this month, and some of the people featured are just now finding out about their pictures appearing in giant form on gallery walls.

Unicorns, horror and bikes: 8 Instagram accounts to follow right now

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adam-jones
A detail of Adam Jones' art for new Red Hare album. Photo: Adam Jones/Instagram

Instagram has become riddled with so many photos of kitty cats, inspirational sayings and kitty cats spouting inspirational sayings that it has become nearly impossible to find fun and interesting feeds to follow without spending hours staring at your iPhone. So we did it for you.

This is not so much a “best of” list as a starting point that should open your mind to what else is out there in the great big Insta-world.