I'm curious about the etymology (aka "origin") of this image I found on the web:

scarface snowman

How would I go about finding the earliest websearch result for this image?

Yes, I can use TinEye to find other instances of the image (253 for the record, but not all of them are actual matches), but I want the earliest, first, and possibly original place this image appeared on the internet. In other words, where on the web did this image originate?

I suppose I can search for something like scarface snowman in Google, and perhaps set the "custom date range" on the advanced search Google options in the left sidebar like so:

Custom [date] range...

From: 5/1/1989
To: 1/1/2007

... and then keep manually adjusting 1/1/2007 "up" until I get the first hits for this phrase in time. When I do that, I get to 1/1/2010 and find this result:


Which Google dates as Dec 20, 2009. However, I'm not confident this is the first time the image appeared on the web; it's just the first time the phrase appeared on the web. It is a start but not much more.

How else can I find out the origin of this image via web search or web apps? Is there any other better way?

  • 1
    This is not a direct answer, but it is a tool that will help you along the way. I was looking through open source image manipulation tools and found JPEG JUDGE, a tool that claims to be able to compare two jpegs, and tell you which one is the original oldhome.schmorp.de/marc/judge.html
    – Breton
    May 13, 2012 at 5:44
  • It's very ironic, because if Jeff Atwood didn't ask this question, it would have been closed.
    – Quidam
    Nov 6, 2019 at 23:48

2 Answers 2


Why use Tineye and then search for text on Google? Search for the image on Google and use the date range like you were: google search

Remember, you can just drag and drop an image into Google image search (it'll even figure out the name of the image like it did in my search example) which is pretty awesome actually.

google image search

However, be careful, as the date Google shows in its results may not reflect the actual date the page or image was created!

  • 2
    indeed, this works, and I don't know why I didn't think of searching in Google Images. I get an earliest result of Sep 29, 2007 at fuckyeahalpacino.tumblr.com/post/323781349/via-tapok May 13, 2012 at 5:45
  • @JeffAtwood check out that it was actually reblogged too from glukauf.tumblr.com/post/323399104 but looks like it was removed from the OP. May 13, 2012 at 5:47
  • Although per Edward's answer, that date of Sep 29, 2007 probably isn't correct and can't be trusted; the Tumblr itself says "2 years ago" which would mean around 2010.. May 13, 2012 at 6:29
  • 1
    doesnt work anymore :( Nov 14, 2019 at 15:47
  • 1
    Doesn't work anymore.
    – Yoda
    Feb 7, 2020 at 17:08

There's every chance you can't find the original, since it may have been posted to a site from which it was later removed, or which automatically purges old posts, or which has shut down in the intervening years. Search-engines and archive.org cache a lot of old content after it has been removed, but they don't catch everything, and as you've discovered, aren't really set up to find the original sources of anything.

Sometimes the best you can do is find the biggest version of the image, which is fairly straightforward with TinEye - just choose the "Biggest Image" sorting option, look down the list to find the biggest version that's a proper match, discarding any that are only big due to extra borders, or which appear to have been scaled up. For you example, the biggest, sharpest version appears to be the one on this page: http://cavemancircus.com/2010/01/08/tony-montana-loves-him-a-snowman/

That version has a slightly later date than yours (and the text certainly implies that it was found, rather than created by the author), but it does appear to be a closer descendent of the original - possibly the closest you'll still find on the Internet.

  • sorting by image size is a good idea, and I did try that on TinEye -- but since the date of 2010 was already later than the text search result for "scarface snowman" I was fairly confident it wasn't enough. May 13, 2012 at 6:03
  • 1
    The other thing worth noting is that Google's dates for sites are not exactly reliable. In Oscar Godson's answer, the September 29, 2007 date is probably when Google first crawled page three of that Tumblr site, not when the Al Pacino image appeared on that page. The Tumblr post even says "posted 2 years ago" which lines up with the versions you and I have found. I'm guessing it went viral around late 2009, early 2010, and was most likely created around that time as-well. May 13, 2012 at 6:13
  • sure, that's the other problem: should we trust the dates that Google shows? May 13, 2012 at 6:14

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