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Old January 4th, 2013, 03:28 PM   #1

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Beards in the Victorian Era


Anyone familiar with the leading figures in the American Civil War will probably not fail to be amused at the era's folical creativity. We have Ambrose Burnside's sideburns, Joshua Chamberlain's monstrous 'stache, and the 'Old Testament' beards sported by the Confederate generals Jackson, Hill, Stuart, Longstreet, and Hood.

While I am not as familiar with contemporary British and European history, long beards and bizarre mustaches seem to have been a fad in the middle decades of the 19th Century throughout the Western world.

Is this my imagination, or was it an actual trend? If so, what inspired it?
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Old January 4th, 2013, 03:50 PM   #2

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Beards are cheap, razors cost money. Its possibly cheap and frivolous but its a basic fact, men out on campaign, being soldier like and being away from female company are going to expore their masculinity and the obvious start is beards and moustaches.
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Old January 4th, 2013, 03:51 PM   #3

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I made a thread about this not to long ago.
Might be worth looking in to
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Old January 4th, 2013, 03:53 PM   #4

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My guess is that it started with that odd fascination that the wealthy elites seem to have with peasant fashions, which they usually steal and then tweak to make it look fancier. Facial hair is a perfect example. A modern day equivalent would be faded jeans.
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Old January 4th, 2013, 03:54 PM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Salah View Post
While I am not as familiar with contemporary British and European history, long beards and bizarre mustaches seem to have been a fad in the middle decades of the 19th Century throughout the Western world.

Is this my imagination, or was it an actual trend? If so, what inspired it?
In one word, fashion.
In the Victorian period beards and mustaches were considered to be attractive and manly.
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Old January 4th, 2013, 03:58 PM   #6

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They're a lot of hard work too. Some bright spark actually invented a cup with a moustache gaurd on it, such was the popularity of mostaches in the Victorian era.
[
Click the image to open in full size.
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Old January 4th, 2013, 09:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redcoat View Post
In one word, fashion.
In the Victorian period beards and mustaches were considered to be attractive and manly.

I find men with beards really attractive as well. I guess it has something to do with reading history where indeed beards were very fashionable.

Also, I don't remember where, but I read that bearded men are very fruitful, maybe that was one of the reasons this to be such a fashion in the past

It is like advertising themselves "I can have a lot of kids! Ladies, one of a time, please!"
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Old January 5th, 2013, 08:41 AM   #8

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In the 1860's it became compulsory under Queens regs for all serving soldiers in the British army to have a moustache. Apparently the Indians considered shaved faces 'unmanly' and it just wouldn't do to let the side down in front of the natives.
This was repealed by 1916, the demise of the 'tash being generally concurrent with the demise of the empire.

How the moustache won an empire | Mail Online
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Old January 6th, 2013, 12:26 AM   #9

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Salah View Post
Anyone familiar with the leading figures in the American Civil War will probably not fail to be amused at the era's folical creativity. We have Ambrose Burnside's sideburns, Joshua Chamberlain's monstrous 'stache, and the 'Old Testament' beards sported by the Confederate generals Jackson, Hill, Stuart, Longstreet, and Hood.

While I am not as familiar with contemporary British and European history, long beards and bizarre mustaches seem to have been a fad in the middle decades of the 19th Century throughout the Western world.

Is this my imagination, or was it an actual trend? If so, what inspired it?

John Keegan would have us believe that it was a custom carried over from the Crimean War. British officers laxed grooming standards, hoping beards would offer some protection from the cold.
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Old January 6th, 2013, 02:08 AM   #10

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Originally Posted by Menshevik View Post
John Keegan would have us believe that it was a custom carried over from the Crimean War. British officers laxed grooming standards, hoping beards would offer some protection from the cold.
In Denmark while the previous fashion had been cleanshaven, or just sporting mutton chops or smaller beards, it became a fashion for many men to grow full beards during the first Schleswig War 1848-1851. Presumably on account of the difficulty of shaving regularly as a soldier in the field, but then copied also by civilians.

Click the image to open in full size.

The painter Johan Thomas Lundbye volunteered in the war (died 1848).
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