Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mad Doctor

ca. 1840’s, [Portrait of a Physician with Surgical Tools and Test Tubes]"Mad" angry or "mad" crazy? Either way, I would not want this man as my physician.

He does, however, have a distinctive and impressive beard, so that should count for something.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The First Steampunk

ca. 1870’s [portrait of a gentleman with goggles or spectacles], Plumb & LoomisThe gears of progress are driven by inherently dangerous mechanical contraptions that often emit fine particulates and occasional high-velocity shrapnel so it is imperative that one wear sufficient ocular protective devices at all times so as to avoid unnecessary injury and inconvenient diminishment of vision.

And this gentleman is totally rocking the mad scientist vibe.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


When I say the word "goatee", what springs to your mind? The mirror universe Mr. Spock from Star Trek? Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon? Perhaps you are thinking of Captain Jack Sparrow.

You would be incorrect for those beards are not goatees, though the modern media and contemporary colloquialism keeps calling them that. No, having a beard and mustache around your mouth not connected to sideburns is not a goatee.

This, my friends, is a goatee. A quintessential example of "a beard formed by hair grown only on the chin area." Add a mustache to the equation and, by definition, it is no longer a goatee.

So, now that today's lesson is over and you know what actually constitutes goatee, when someone says the word you will not embarass yourself by thinking of Tony Stark, you will be thinking of Norville Rogers.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Steampunk World's Fair

Entrants in the General G. Rappleyea Memorial Beard and Mustache Competition of the 2011 Steampunk World's Fair, Somerset, New Jersey. There were many more competitors this year and some grew out their beards specifically for this event. Huzzah!

2011 SteampunkWorld's Fair

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Greatest Generation

Rear Adm. John Lorimer WordenThe Smithsonian (courtesy of the fine pogonologists at Wondermark) announces a contest for “Who Had the Best Civil War Facial Hair?”

Vote Here!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Four Brothers

Daniel, George (with the beard), Michael and my great-grandfather Elder John.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shave for Honor

Brigham Young c1870Brigham Young was a man's man. He founded his own de-facto nation in Utah. He was said to have the power of God. He sanctioned the massacre of pioneers. He was a world class bigot. He wore magic underwear. He may have been a delusional religious tyrant but, with 55 wives and nearly as many children, no one could doubt his bearded virility.

So, it is with some irony that the Mormon university founded with his name has beardlessness as a part of it's student code of honor. To violate this code is to be removed forthwith. Brigham Young would be expelled from his own university for violating the honor code.

There are exceptions, however. One is permitted to grow a beard with a medical exemption from university doctors.

A student who wishes to obtain a beard exception must visit a BYU Student Health Center doctor by appointment (422.5156). The doctor will fax his recommendation. The student then needs to come to the Honor Code Office to fill out some paperwork and receive the letter allowing the growth of the beard, if approved. If a yearly beard exception is granted, a new Student ID will be issued after the beard has been fully grown, and must be renewed every year by repeating the process.

If a request is granted for a temporary or more permanent beard exception the student will be notified by the Honor Code Office; at which time the student will come into the office to complete the necessary paperwork. After completion of this process the student may then grow a full beard according to the guidelines given.

Wearing a beard is dishonorable? Heresy! Sacrilege! Sure, BYU bans sex, swearing, plagarism and shorts or skirts above the knee, which shouldn't be surprising for a religious university, but beards? And tea! Can you believe that they ban tea as being somehow unwholesome?

That's just not civilized.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


Crown Prince Frederick III 1870One of the (many) advantages of having a longer beard or moustache is that of styling. Men with close cropped beads have no oppotunity for variation short of shaving and then they are caught within that particular style until the follicles grow back out.

But a man with longer bears can move the hairs this way or that to elicit a particular effect. I give you Frederick III, at this time in 1870 the crown prince of Prussia and later to serve as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Many of the paintings and photographs that I have seen of his royal majesty present him with a somewhat conventional beard. I have seen others where the beard is somewhat split in the middle, slightly less conventional but nothing too dramatic.

But here, he has taken the comb from the center of the chin and drawn it horizontally, in some ways extending the horizontal pull of the moustache down across the chin.


It may perhaps have been effected for a practical purpose of revealing the medal at his throat rather than having it concealed by a vertically combed beard.

I like to think it was more than that.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Not a fool

Who does not love wine, wife & song, will be a fool for his lifelong! c1873I have been cultivating my beard for quite a number of years and, while I have been inspired by the beards of over a century ago, I have endeavored to be somewhat unique in its styling. And yet, I continued to search archives in hopes of finding someone else who shared a similar beard so that I could make the claim that my beard was, in point of fact, period. So many beards and yet none that I could point to and say, "See! men of culture and style really do have such beards as this."

And here I find one that seems to add to that claim. This gentleman's beard is a circle beard but with some enhancements, specifically the moustache separated from the beard by being styled straight out and, even more unique, the "horns" on the beard trimmed to the center of the chin. Not an exact match to my beard, mind you, but certainly similar enough to be considered in the same taxonomy.

Culture. Style and the adoring gaze of his loving wife. And observe that she is gazing upon his fine beard. OK. So maybe she's actually looking at the sheet music but that is only for this illustration. Surely she must approve of both him and his beard all the other days of their lives. No fool he.

Unfortunately, I do not like wine so more the fool am I.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Taking stock

When the father discovered that his son was writing rather than studying law, he promptly withdrew his financial support. The young aspiring author was forced to support himself as a stockbroker, which he hated despite being somewhat successful at it. Even so, he persevered and became on of the most influential writers of the 19th Century.

This is, of course, Jules Verne at the age of 28 before he hit the big time, born this day in 1828.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Chance Meeting

A Chance MeetingPhotographers Abel J. Whalen and Abel J. Whalen both pose for a picture of themselves and their beards. Beards were not a novelty in the early days of photography but multiple exposures allow one the unique opportunity to see both profiles of a beard simultaneously.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


After a panel at an Ohio convention, an attendee came up to me and said:

"When my beard grows up, it wants to be just like yours."

I was, of course, flattered. And while I do not have what I consider to be an epic beard, one worthy of international accolades in the arena of competition, I am quite proud of my facial adornment and pleased that inspires others.

And yet, I am slightly hesitant. I have spent years cultivating a beard which I think is unique and would be sorely disappointed should someone choose to imitate my particular style.

So, allow the Century of the Beard to inspire you in finding your own path.The men featured here certainly did not mimic or parrot those around them. Nor should you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Professor Modevi’s Beard Generator

Professor Modevis Beard Generator

Pitty the poor man who lacks the follicles to grow himself a beard as he may forever be looked upon as a mere juvenile amongst men. But fear no more, for Professor Modevi's advertisement in The Illustrated Police News of 4 April 1885 announces vast experience in producing a marvelous topical pharmacon that shall bring one's manliness to its fullest of potential. Surely the Victorian equivalent of Rogaine and Enzyte concocted into a single elixir.