Posted by Platypus on June 14, 2004
In Reply to: Cost you an arm and a leg posted by Kaz on June 14, 2004
: A friend told me that the origin of this phrase was from days gone by when photo portraits were priced based on the number of limbs that were included in the photo. For example, a head shot was the least expensive. The most expensive would be if all four limbs were visible. Can anyone confirm this? I can't seem to find a good answer anywhere.
Though I can not confirm whether the portrait premise is fact or an epistemlogical yarn, it's probably safe to say the portraits to which you refer are not photographs. Rather, they are paintings, a much more time consuming endeavor. As much as I'd like to beleive this very tidy explanation is true, it may be bunk.
You might enjoy reading what the Word Detective has to say on the matter at: