Victorian era gave us many great inventions that we still use today - bicycles, Morse code, ice cream as we know it, and even the telephone. The era of Queen Victoria's reign, though, had some pretty bizarre happenings too. Such as ladies getting stuck in doorways because of their extra big dress skirts and constantly fainting as a result of very tight corsets. Also, the London fog did exist, and it comprised of nothing else than heavy pollution from coal mines and the city being in regular fires. Victorians were oddly obsessed with Egyptology and makeup, especially lipstick, was compared to witchcraft. To add even more fun to the mix, the social rules and behavior codes were amazingly strict.

With life this pleasant, it's no wonder that nobody was smiling in the creepy pictures taken in the Victorian era. Everybody looks so severe that it seems as if people in the 1800s just didn't have the time, or strength to have fun. But as these rare vintage photos prove, that wasn't always the case.

There are many theories as to why Victorians always look so dour in pictures. Long exposure times made smiling difficult (and by long we mean several hours. Seriously. Ever tried smiling for several hours? It hurts) and the high cost of portraits gave people very little to smile about. Poor dental hygiene made people reluctant to show their teeth (or whatever teeth they had left), and let's not forget that many Victorians simply had it too rough a life to take funny pictures. But as you can see from the vintage photography exemplars below, some still found something to smile about. From gentlemen cross-dressing as fair ladies of the times, to probably the first awkward family photos in history, the few Victorians, who managed to have some fun, are all here. (h/t: whizzpast)

#1 A Victorian Couple Trying Not To Laugh While Getting Their Portraits Done, 1890s

A Victorian Couple Trying Not To Laugh While Getting Their Portraits Done, 1890s

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Natalia Sanchez 2 years ago

There was a journalist / comedian called Jorge Ginsburg here in Argentina who looked just like this fellow.

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#2 Cakewalk Dance

Cakewalk Dance

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Renata Tufano Ho 2 years ago

'Cause this is thriller, thriller night...

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#3 A Unique Tea Setting For Two

A Unique Tea Setting For Two

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Damian Domski 2 years ago

I’ve heard of a C cup, & a D cup….but a “T cup”??!

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#4 A Snow Lady, 1892

A Snow Lady, 1892

The Strand magazine Report

Maria João Barata 2 years ago

Wow, is that a snow statue? Amazing!

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#5 Unusual Portrait Of A Victorian Lady, 1840

Unusual Portrait Of A Victorian Lady, 1840

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Annette Topits 2 years ago

Hahahahahaha!!! A woman after my own heart!

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#6 Three Fashionable Young Men At Yale, 1883

Three Fashionable Young Men At Yale, 1883

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Grace Koesling 2 years ago

Which bathroom did they let them use?

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#7 Awkward Family Photo, Victorian Edition

Awkward Family Photo, Victorian Edition

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Bitty Moran 2 years ago

That scary room though

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#8 Tsar Nicholas II Goofing Around, 1899

Tsar Nicholas II Goofing Around, 1899

statearchive Report

Tereza Skálová 2 years ago

They are playing old men!

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#9 Vintage Humor

Vintage Humor

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Heather D'Gallegos 2 years ago

That waist! Yikes!

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#10 Piggy Nose

Piggy Nose

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Marianne Heck 2 years ago

Nice Selfie at that time

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#11 Men And Women Cross Dress In This Silly Victorian Snap, 1880-1900

Men And Women Cross Dress In This Silly Victorian Snap, 1880-1900

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SarahofBorg 2 years ago

I can't even tell!

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#12 Say That Again, And I'll Dip You In, 1897

Say That Again, And I'll Dip You In, 1897

James M. Davis Report

Jovy Jergens 2 years ago

Timeless and sweet.

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#13 Unknown Victorian In Mid-jump

Unknown Victorian In Mid-jump

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Sherry Reign 2 years ago

jump shot before it was cool

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#14 Vacation Sports At The Seaside

Vacation Sports At The Seaside

Strohmeyer and Wyman Report

Lena Hunter 2 years ago

if this wasn't their normal beach attire, i'd say it was actually rather fashionable.

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#15 Richard Freiherr Von Krafft-Ebing

Richard Freiherr Von Krafft-Ebing

Krafft-Ebing Report

Ramon Burnet 2 years ago

He came op with the words sadism and masochism. And made a very popular book about sexual behaviors, partly in Latin so not every one could read it.. quote wiki: Krafft-Ebing's principal work is Psychopathia Sexualis: eine Klinisch-Forensische Studie (Sexual Psychopathy: A Clinical-Forensic Study), which was first published in 1886 and expanded in subsequent editions. The last edition from the hand of the author (the twelfth) contained a total of 238 case histories of human sexual behaviour.

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#16 The Victorians From France

The Victorians From France

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Laura Ingles. 2 years ago

Love the guy at the back against the sternness of the women..

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#17 Courting In The 1800s Never Looked Better

Courting In The 1800s Never Looked Better

Hulton Archive Report

Charmaine Turner 2 years ago

Beautiful quality.

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#18 This Is As Close To A Victorian Selfie As It's Going To Get

This Is As Close To A Victorian Selfie As It's Going To Get

S. Ray Report

Kati Alyssa 2 years ago

I have found actual selfies from the early 1910s. They were by college girls and were preserved in a scrapbook I found at an antique store.

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#19 Tsar Nicholas II Goofing Around, 1899

Tsar Nicholas II Goofing Around, 1899

statearchive Report

Celia McDaniel 2 years ago

My friends and I do that a lot.

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#20 Smiling Victorians

Smiling Victorians

The Smiling Victorian Report

Qwerty65 2 years ago

Looks like the poster advertisement for a good movie or TV show. "Smiling Victorians" sounds like a comedy or a drama, too.

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#21 Smiling Little Girls

Smiling Little Girls

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Gloria Rockel 2 years ago

They're adorable.

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#22 Victorians Pulling Face, 1900

Victorians Pulling Face, 1900

Northumberland Archives Report

Abigail Martin 2 years ago

Or she was about to sneeze.

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#23 Smiling Victorians, 1900s

Smiling Victorians, 1900s

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Charmaine Turner 2 years ago

Just a bit of chocolate.

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#24 Victorians, 1800s

Victorians, 1800s

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frederic eeckman 2 years ago

Peter Dinklage doesn't look so bad in blond.

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#25 Tsar Nicholas II, 1899

Tsar Nicholas II, 1899

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RandomPanda 2 years ago

An early form of photobombing.

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#26 Men Dressed In Drag In The Victorian Era

Men Dressed In Drag In The Victorian Era

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Scarlet Turner 2 years ago

Or a really homely woman

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#27 Fashion Victorians Women, 19th Century

Fashion Victorians Women, 19th Century

19thcenturymodern Report

Corina Tusinean 2 years ago

does anyone know what the hand gesture means?

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#28 A Smiling Queen Victoria In An Open Coach, 1892

A Smiling Queen Victoria In An Open Coach, 1892

Hulton Archive Report

#29 Smiling Victorian, 1800s

Smiling Victorian, 1800s

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Anita Cuellar 2 years ago

Love ot!

#30 Miss Barton Dressed In A Late Victorian Tennis Outfit

Miss Barton Dressed In A Late Victorian Tennis Outfit

London Stereoscopic Company Report

Laura Ingles. 2 years ago

Can you imagine playing tennis in that???

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#31 Man Pulling A Funny Face

Man Pulling A Funny Face

Northumberland Archives Report

Paulina Chelstowska 2 years ago

19th century Nick Offerman

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#32 A Woman Riding A 'scorcher', A Victorian Bicycle, In St James' Park, London

A Woman Riding A 'scorcher', A Victorian Bicycle, In St James' Park, London

Hulton Collection Report

Mary Paquette 2 years ago

It is a photo, a woman on a bike in a photographer 's studio with an fake background.

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#33 Smiling Victorian Servants

Smiling Victorian Servants

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Kristie Snively 2 years ago

The one on the bottom right is doing the heart hands thing

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#34 Kid Pulling A Funny Face

Kid Pulling A Funny Face

Northumberland Archives Report

Suzanne Pope 2 years ago

Pulling face. Lol

#35 A Group Of Smiling Edwardians

A Group Of Smiling Edwardians

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#36 Man Pulling A Comical Face, 1900

Man Pulling A Comical Face, 1900

Northumberland Archives Report

Qwerty65 2 years ago

If you were naughty in the classroom, you had to wear the dunce cap (a paper cone) and sit in a corner. Class clowns were frequent wearers of them, of course.

#37 A Group Of Women To Celebrate The Centenary Of The London Bus

A Group Of Women To Celebrate The Centenary Of The London Bus

Fox Photos Report

Emily Bryant 2 years ago

I don't think this picture is actually from the victorian era. Its way to clear and sharp.

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#38 Gibson Girls

Gibson Girls

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Wendy Clark 2 years ago

Tall guy displays British dentition

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#39 Evelyn Winchester

Evelyn Winchester

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UnknownPerson 2 years ago

She is aunt of Sam and Dean

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#40 The 20th Century Victorian Man With Banishing Woman

The 20th Century Victorian Man With Banishing Woman

H. Armstrong Roberts Report

OdangaUsagi 2 years ago

Looks like a stage set with that paper wall behind the man.

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#41 The Smiling Victorians

The Smiling Victorians

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Viktė Džiaugytė 2 years ago

They changed the hats, didn't they?

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#42 Smiling 1850s Lady

Smiling 1850s Lady

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Sarah Mark Cleverley 2 years ago

Looks like Amy from big bang theory

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#43 Smiling Victorians, 1900s

Smiling Victorians, 1900s

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Suzanne Bitterlich 2 years ago

Even then they had photo bombers. Lol. The man laying in the background.

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#44 Victorians Pulling Face, 1900

Victorians Pulling Face, 1900

Northumberland Archives Report Report

Αλεξάνδρα Γκουλάν 2 years ago

early beginnings of a duck face xD

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#45 Smiling Victorian, 1800s

Smiling Victorian, 1800s

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#46 A Family In Fancy Dress, 1880-1900

A Family In Fancy Dress, 1880-1900

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Anita Cuellar 2 years ago

Is that kid smoking?

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#47 A Young Couple A Photographed In Fancy Dress, 1880-1900

A Young Couple A Photographed In Fancy Dress, 1880-1900

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Rhon 2 years ago

Looks they were performing The Mikado

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#48 Slicker-Looking Guy

Slicker-Looking Guy

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Wendy Clark 2 years ago

Yep, he's a player

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#49 Young Ladies

Young Ladies

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Daria B 2 years ago

I like lists like these, showing a more humane side of people of the past, making them feel closer to us, since we're thinking of them as just abstract characters usually. I bet the "dark middle ages" were really not as dark either.

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