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The Back Story of the First Photo of "Flipping the Bird"

Updated on June 19, 2013

Ever wonder when the first photo of someone "flipping the bird" gesture, you know, that infamous middle finger gesture when either you are kidding or pissed off? That middle finger gesture causes serious consequences, at times. Some, simply explode into an in your face rage if you direct it at them, others, simply shrug it off because it is harmless and they are expressing an opinion.

Back in 1968-9, the rock band Moby Grape, a one hit wonder band, had their debut cover of them and one member secretly flipped the bird. BTW, how did this gesture ever get associated with "F-you"? What does the gesture simulate? The sex act? Why is it always done when one is angry, why not, when your happy? How did this gesture's evolution come about?

Well, the first photo showing the gesture seems to appeared in 1886, when a team player of a baseball team did. Charles Radbourne was a pitcher for the Boston Beaneater team and the photo was snapped before their game with the NY Giants. In 1884, the guy had 441 strikeouts a 1.38 ERA with 60 wins. Before he was a pitcher, he was a butcher working from 0400 to 2000 a day, knocking down steers using a 25 lb. sledgehammer. As a pitcher, he earned 10 times more for playing a two hour game than when he was a butcher.


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    • perrya profile image

      perrya 4 years ago

      I agree, it can be a provocative act.

    • QudsiaP1 profile image

      QudsiaP1 4 years ago

      How interesting! It is often wondered how simple gestured could be a symbol of great offense in a culture and now with the social media as is; they can create new signs and get it implemented in a day... Whoops I hope I didn't give any mischievous lot new ideas. :)