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The Happiest Man in 1901-1904

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It's often incredibly rare to find photographs of people smiling pre-20th century. In fact, you can be forgiven for thinking the smile was an invention of the 20th century, after seeing the seemingly solemn and emotionless expressions of people in Victorian-era photographs. The reasoning behind this was that photographs were costly investments and were rarely taken in the lifetime of a Victorian gentleman. Considering the fact that this photo would likely serve as their identification for decades and for life, could you blame them for not wanting to look silly?

Regardless, that isn't the topic of this post. This post is an elaborate excuse to post this uplifting photo of a photogenic man eating a bowl of rice in China, sometime between 1901-1904. The photo was shot by the Jacob H. Schiff Chinese Expedition (an expedition led by the German scholar aforementioned) and kept in the records of the American Museum of Natural History. What's puzzling to us is the near stock-photo-like appearance, the over-the-top expression, the seemingly flawless dental hygiene. I think it's worth spending a few moments taking in this image.

I mean, when was the last time you've seen an old photo with a guy as cheerful as this?


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