Reader Marion Henderson graciously sent us this picture of her great grandmother Laura. “This picture that I have has to be from the mid to later 1870?s if I did the math right.”
As in the case of the Time Traveller spotted in a Charlie Chaplin movie, and as Marion herself asked, “I took a magnifying glass and looked even closer, and there is definitely something there. I thought an ear trumpet?”
It would be somewhat odd for a younger looking lady to use such a hearing aid, but then, definitely not as improbable as a time travelling cell phone.
Not to be too cynical, but it’s also possible the image was simply tampered with. In this respect Marion was very kind and answered the basic questions I made regarding the picture, of which her family still has the original. A very skeptical and rigorous investigation would analyze the original print, but it may seem like too much trouble for what is at face value a quite amusing and plausible picture of Marion’s great grandmother holding a cell-phone like ear trumpet.
Ear trumpets – connecting people since the 19th century. Confused with cell phones since the beginning of the 21st century. [with many thanks to Marion for the contribution]
Update 04/15/2012: As noted by Roberto Takata, Poke, João, Lucas and others, there’s probably nothing in her hand, and what looks like the illuminated part of an object is simply her middle finger, or a play of shadow and light:
I highlighted her hand in red, but left out what may or may not be her middle finger or the space between her finger in the projected shadow of her hand. Her thumb can be seen, which rule out either a time travelling cell-phone, an ear trumpet or a folded fan.
Upon closer inspection, I also think the shadows on that region may have been retouched, but not by modern computers. It could have been retouched by the 19th century photographer to eliminate the shadows of the hand over her face, resulting in a better picture, but one that does look somewhat puzzling.
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