#4. The Secret in Washington's Mouth
This is as ubiquitous as a face gets. You've probably seen this image hundreds of times, maybe even thousands, if you're a rich person who enjoys sleeping on piles of money. A version of this unfinished portrait of George Washington adorns every dollar bill (go on, dig into your pocket and compare for yourself). However, have you ever taken a close look at his mouth?
We usually get too lost in those dreamy eyes to notice anything else.
More specifically, have you ever noticed how freaking huge it seems? He looks like he's storing nuts for the winter in there, or possibly a whole squirrel. As many of you no doubt already know, Washington lost his teeth and had to use dentures -- however, his mouth didn't always look as bulgy as it does in his most famous portrait.
Rembrandt Peale via The-athenaeum.org
The only thing that all the artists could agree on was that the man loved his rouge.
As it happens, on the day when Washington sat for the portrait that would go on to show up on your money, he was wearing a spare set of dentures because his usual ones were broken. In a letter to his doctor, he begged him to fix his other dentures quickly because these "are both uneasy in the mouth and bulge my lips out in such a manner as to make them appear considerably swelled."
"My friends will think Martha has been hitting me again."
Washington withstood the torture and sat in front of artist Gilbert Stuart for hours because his wife had personally commissioned the portrait ... and in the end, it was all for nothing, because Stuart intentionally left the painting unfinished so he could keep it in his studio and use it to make duplicates that he'd sell for big bucks. That's how the painting became so popular despite never being finished, and as a result we now think of our first president as being considerably more big-mouthed than he really was.
#3. The First Picture of a Person. Ever.
Have you noticed how in every old-timey photo from the first half of the 19th century the streets always happen to be empty? They all look like the set of I Am Legend or something. This is because back then taking a single photo was a huge pain in the ass: Early cameras would take up to 10 minutes to actually get an image, and no one was willing to sit still that long just for the benefit of having their soul stolen by a strange machine. Nothing that moved showed up in pictures, so people didn't really start taking photos of other people until the latter part of the century.
The above photo from 1838 is a perfect example of this: It's just another lame-ass black-and-white street with no one in it -- except for that one guy getting his shoe shined. See him? Here he is zoomed up:
Gah, it's Slender Man! Start punching!
The image was taken by Louis Daguerre, who probably didn't think it would gain notoriety 170 years later when a blogger would point out that it was the first photo of a human being ever taken, even if he looks more like some sort of shadow creature. Another blogger created a colorized version where you can see him much more clearly:
This was a complicated process, because as you know they hadn't invented color back then.
The identity of the first man to be photographed, of course, is unknown. How much did he pay for the shoeshine? Was he making a duck face when the picture was taken? Sadly, we'll never know.
#2. The First Picture of a Person ... Flipping You Off
If you asked us what's so amazing about this picture of an 1886 baseball team, we'd simply point out the obvious: This was taken at a classier time when men wore top hats to the stadium and 18 out of 24 baseball players had objectively awesome mustaches. However, look closely at the man in the upper left corner -- more specifically, at what he's telling you to do with his hand:
"Suck it, future boy."
That's legendary pitcher Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn in the first known instance of someone giving the finger to the camera. Seriously, if there's an earlier picture of this gesture, no one has found it -- how many of you even knew that old-timey people flipped each other off just like we do? We always figured they went straight to dueling each other.
Radbourn was a fairly popular player in the 1880s, and is still the only pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball to win 60 games in one season. Heck, he even had his own baseball card:
"A pack a day keeps me strong and fit!" Anyway, he died at age 43.
Wait, what's he doing with his ...?
"And you suck it, too, even-further-in-the-future boy."
Holy shit, he's the second person to flip off a camera, too. You know what, maybe his fingers were frozen like that -- which makes sense, considering that Charley Hoss, as the other players called him, is apparently where the term "charley horse" comes from.
#1. The German Who Didn't Give a Fuck
It's easy to think that everyone in Nazi Germany was a monster because, well, it was Nazi Germany. This photo of a crowd of seemingly regular people performing the Nazi salute certainly doesn't help fight that perception -- the photo was taken at the launch of a German army vessel in 1936, during a ceremony that was attended by Adolf Hitler himself. As you can see, everyone in attendance is showing their undying support for Der Fuhrer by throwing out their very best "Seig Heil."
Well, almost everyone:
"As soon as they serve the hors d'oeuvres, I'm outta here."
Look closer -- not only is this guy not doing the salute at a time and a place where that could have easily gotten him killed, but he's actually wearing his best "meh" face.
He had both arms occupied at actively not giving a fuck.
Think about it: Even today, you could get beat up for wearing a hockey jersey in front of people from the other team. This guy was standing in the middle of a crowd of literal Nazis, and he still had the balls to not go along with them, leading us to believe that he might have attended the ceremony simply so he could lay a fart on Hitler.
How do we know that he wasn't just resting his arms or something, though? Because we actually know who he was: His name was August Landmesser, and not long after this picture was taken, he was arrested for trying to marry a part-Jewish woman, which was illegal. That's right, this guy had "attempted marriage" in his criminal record.
Neither Landmesser nor his would-be wife survived the war, but their two daughters did, and in 1991 one of them recognized her father in this picture and began sharing his badassery with the world.
"Adolph Hitler? More like Piece of Shitler."
Eric Yosomono writes for GaijinAss.com and has a Facebook page here. Curren Mcdowell is picking his way across the world and blogging about it at garagesalepickers.blogspot.com. Xavier Jackson has a Facebook page and an email at XavierJacksonCracked@gmail.com.
For more ridiculously bizarre old photos, check out 9 Old-Timey Animal Photos You Won't Believe Are Real and 16 Real Old-Timey Photographs That Will Give you Nightmares.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The Only Way Your Drunk Friend Could Be More Annoying.
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn the proper way to time travel and fight your grandparents.
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