Friday, August 29, 2008

High flyin

I simply cannot let this photograph go unremarked upon even though it is not actually from the 19th Century. Herein, three fine gentlemen with absolutely spectacular beards are enjoying the spoils of victory in the World Beard and Mustache Championships. The original by dogseat, using the newfangled color-process photography, was modified by Mousewrites into the more vintage and gloriously black and white format you see here.

I am insanely jealous of these gentlemen. Though I am proud of my own beard, it pales to insignificance before their mastery of the art.

It is a great tragedy of the 20th and 21st Centuries that such magnificence has fallen out of fashion yet there is some small comfort that in some small corners of the population a fine tradition of stylish masculinity endures and through the aethertubes, endures for posterity.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Loading unfinshed iron bars into a furnace for refinement was a difficult job. One needed to be highly skilled in judging the temperature of the bars and, as such, Adam Hart was one of the best paid workers in the Sligo Iron Works, once located beneath the Smithfield Street Bridge.

One might think that working with one's face near white-hot metal would preclude having a beard. Surely, such extravagance would surely burst into flames or singe away and, while this is a distinct possibility, many workers of metal cultivate full beards. Are they defiantly challenging the fates or is there some other, secret method to their madness?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Beards of Pittsburgh: Andrew Carnegie

In celebration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the city of Pittsburgh, I will be featuring notable beards and the beards of notables from the Steel City.

The most notable of those notables is, of course, Andrew Carnegie. The teenage Carnegie settled in the city of Allegheny (now Pittsburg's North Side) in 1848. Starting as a telegraph messenger boy in the Pittsburgh Office of the Ohio Telegraph Company, at $2.20 per week he worked his way up to found and command Carnegie Steel Company and become one of the wealthiest men in the world. When Carnegie Steel was sold in 1901, he made $125 million off the deal.

For as much as Carnegie was the industrial heart of Pittsburgh, he also contributed significantly to it's soul. His philanthropy funded some 3,000 libraries, located in 47 states, 19 of them in Pittsburgh. He also founded the Carnegie Institute of Technology (today, Carnegie-Mellon University) and the Carnegie Museum.

"Man does not live by bread alone. I have known millionaires starving for lack of the nutriment which alone can sustain all that is human in man, and I know workmen, and many so-called poor men, who revel in luxuries beyond the power of those millionaires to reach. It is the mind that makes the body rich."

And his beard. . . his finely manicured beard evolved from something fairly mundane into a brilliant and famous white respectability. Many professionally made photographs show a stern demeanor, not unexpected for a multi-national tycoon controlling a massive steel empire, but when he chose to smile, his bead afforded Carnegie a grandfatherly appearance.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Beards of our Forefathers

David Malki, author of the online comic strip Wondermark, has produced this collection of humor entitled "Beards of our Forefathers". For those who do not know his comic, he takes period illustrations and adds captions and dialogue for humerus purposes. And while there are certainly beards to be found within, such as his marginally useful Pocket Guide to Ancestral Beards and Ironic Facial Hair Citation, he focuses very little upon the actual beards of our forefathers.

This is not to say I was disappointed in his book. Assuredly not. Even without beards and mustaches, the the humor is significant.