Who Were They?

Lost and forgotten photos from the past

I’m delighted and flattered that Alan Burnett over at Sepia Saturday selected my suggestion for this week’s theme! My suggestion was “men with facial hair…or women with facial hair!” While I’m definitely able to meet the first half of the prompt, I cannot actually find one single photo of a bearded lady in my collection. I did have this friend in school who’s mother had quite an impressive mustache. As much as my friend hinted and cajoled, her mother did nothing about it and to this day has quite a thick growth on her upper lip. How’d you like to pucker up to that? Yikes!

I shall instead regale you with five photos of fantastic facial hair from the 19th century.

Chin curtain

This CdV from the 1870s was made by the very popular photographer Harrington in West Salem, Ohio. His gallery was located over Gable’s Drug Store, if you happen to have an old map. This type of beard is called a chin curtain, I am certain you can ascertain why. For the men visiting, just how long would it take a man to grow a beard to such a length? This chin curtain must be 8 inches or more from lip to tip. Perhaps he was adding hair on the chin as he was losing it on the top.

Wladimir, bring my troika

Next up by C. G. Hill in Lynn, no state provided, this man looks like he just came from Russia, doesn’t he? His full goatee is surmounted only by his fuzzy hat. What are those hats called anyway? This image is one of my favorites and you must read the caption out loud with your best Russian accent for full effect.

The handlebar

This particular CdV features a handlebar mustache that drifts into bushy sideburns. I like to think that he spent hours grooming his whiskers keeping them nice and clean. This photo was made by C. Taylor Photographer in Bishop, Auckland, New Zealand. Can any of our international visitors comment on the location or photographer?

Coo coo ca-choo

I imagine this very full and lovely handlebar could have been waxed into a curlicue shape if so desired. This man must have been quite proud of his mustache. It is more prominent than anything else in the photograph. He looks a bit like a walrus. The photographer was Baldwin in Wichita, Kansas and the photograph looks like a collodion print to me, dating it after 1892.

Sweet Adaline

I saved my favorite for last. We get four bewhiskered faces for the price of one! These are likely brothers given the close similarities in their appearance. I keep expecting them to break out in four part harmony like a barbershop quartet, don’t you? Or perhaps they are the Earp brothers, there were four of them, right? You are under arrest! The image was made by J. F. Rank in Van Wert, Ohio.

If you love looking at beards, mustaches and other types of facial hair, click over to Sepia Saturday.

Combing the internet

For more facial hair fun, try Century of the Beard or Mustaches of the 19th Century.

19 thoughts on “A hairy subject

  1. What a wonderful selection!


  2. IntenseGuy says:

    Can’t speak for all the men – but beard hair grows pretty quickly – at least as fast a regular hair if not faster – so I’d say I could grow an 8-9 inch beard in 2-3 years, maybe 4 (I’ve about 2-3 inches now). The had part is to keep it from getting damaged :) Jacket zippers and such…


  3. “chin curtain” :-). Isn’t Wladimir (‘bring my vodka’) wearing a Papakhi hat?


    1. Mrs Marvel says:

      Yes perhaps I should have said vodka rather than troika ha ha.


  4. postcardy says:

    You have a good collection of photos with interesting facial hair. I never knew those long beards were called chin curtains. They must have been quite popular at one time.


  5. Men’s photographs are so bland ..the only thing that makes some photographs interesting is their facial hair! That is a great Russian looking CdV:)


  6. kristin says:

    Chin curtains, what a strange thing to think of.


  7. Wendy says:

    I love the caption for #4 as my first thought too was “walrus.” The brothers in the last photo make me long for a cough drop.


  8. Nancy says:

    I also love the photo of the four brothers. The painting of the set is so naive and fun. Really makes the photo special.
    Thanks for suggesting such a great theme for this week.


  9. Bob Scotney says:

    I can see why you suggested the theme for this week. Fine collection of photos especially the chin curtain and the four brothers.


  10. Jan Eaton says:

    Exactly – a very sad walrus! Interesting collection of photos too.


  11. Colleen says:

    Great photos! Thanks for sharing.


  12. Queen Bee says:

    Enjoyed the photos and your suggestion of a “hair” theme was a great idea. The “walrus” guy would have looked so much better without the moustache. All of this excess hair men liked to wear as sideburns, long beards and thick moustaches was most unattractive. I’m glad that went out of style.


  13. Little Nell says:

    You found a wonderful selection of extraordianary sets of whiskers. I’m not sure about that last one though, they all look like waxworks.


  14. Karen S. says:

    What a fine collection you have indeed, and I can very much see why you asked for the hairy theme. Very nice, and as for the bearded lady, well they have been at the fairs, probably more so in the past. Thanks for the bearded views.


  15. tyrogers6200 says:

    I can answer honestly, I would not like to pucker up to that. :-)


  16. Jo says:

    Thanks for the inspiration for this week – sadly I am way behind you in your facial hair photos. I could only manage a couple of measly moustaches – so much for mad March hair :-) Jo


  17. A terrific variety of whiskers! My own fuzz is rarely trimmed and has limitations on length, otherwise it would likely be down to my toes. Most of these styles are masterworks of some barber’s razor and snips.


  18. Tattered and Lost says:

    Wow, that’s some soup strainer on the 4th fella. I knew a guy who grew a huge mustache to hide his broken tooth. When he’d eat, no matter what he ate, it was a mess. He’d go through napkins like running water. It was much worse than looking at his broken tooth.


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