SaltyDog

PC Facial Hair...

51 posts in this topic

Looking for some feedback on what opinions there are for facial hair. I have had full beards, mustache alone, goatee, side burns, etc. I have received some comments by the "civilian population" when clean shaved that I do not look "hairy" enough to be a pirate. I do assume there were razors then and were used not only by the upper classes.

Please chime in. Thanks...

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I have seen period depictions of Black Bart clean shaven. I've seen period depictions of Blackbeard with a neat trimmed beard. There were plenty of barber-surgeons around who could do cheap shave. The Sweeny Todd fable started as an 18th c. story. Here's some illustrations from Laroon's Cryes of London:

http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/johnson/exhibition/104.htm

These are for the most part the poor of London yet there is nary a facial hair.

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The fashion of the day called for clean shaven faces... but that doesn't mean everyone stuck to it...

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As for Teach-

"This Beard was black, which he suffered to grow of an extravagant Length; as to Breadth, it came up to his Eyes; he was accustomed to twist it with Ribbons, in small Tails, afer the Manner our our Ramilies Wiggs, and turn them about his Ears... (Johnson, "Of Captain Teach", p. 84).

Another incident between Captain James Mackra and a pirate under Edward England-

"... a Fellow with a terrible pair of Whiskers, and a wooden Leg, being stuck round with Pistols, like the Man in the Almanack with Darts, comes swearing and vapouring upon the Quarter-Deck, and asks, in a damning Manner, which was Captain Mackra..." (Johnson, "Of Captain England", p. 121).

Yours, Mike

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I was recently seeking 'period' style cuts as I have just began growing me own back out. Recalling from memory; it was around the 15th & 16th century that it was pretty much called for a man to have facial hair, it was a symbol that he was in deed a 'man'. Now this be mostly of religious belief as I recall and there was some prominent figures that 'taunted' society by going clean shaven. If I recall correct then it was not until around the 1800's that men began going clean shaved without ridicule or getting strange looks in public.

As for the 'design' o' the cut; it looked pretty diverse from the articles I could find, but most all said that men who could not grow facial hair where frowned upon, even denied access into high seats o' power, especially from the 15th century and back.

If you do a Google Search for 16th Century Beard Styles, also try 15th Century, there are some articles but pictures seem far and few between.

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I got an email today from a close friend that has a large beard and is sick of it. He wanted to style/shave it in a unique way that would have been period for the GAOP. I thought it was a good enough question to pass on to the pros here.

I myself have wondered. I often grow my beard out for events, but it would be fun to play around a bit more.

I have seen some re-enactors out there with chops and of course some french pirates with the old handlebar.

Are there any specific nonos for GAOP facial hair?

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Are there any specific nonos for GAOP facial hair?

If you were fashionable, or trying to pass as such, you would not have had any.

I am most oft bearded, but have been known to shave for events.

See also: Facial Hair

Edited by Quartermaster James

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clean shaven has been my understanding... but what about the fashionable sideburns ????

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Well clean shaven is not an option for me. I am afraid my lady friend would kill me if I went all clean.

Good question though. What about side burns?

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Wouldn't this vary with nationality and social class?

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During the GAOP in Britain almost any one who was bearded was referred to as being from across the seas(ethnocentric fashions) ...anyone who has shaved with a straight razor can attest that nicks and cuts from a razor are frequent combine that with seawater to clean your face :D;););) since often fresh water was in short supply....I would think many sailors would have at the very least stubble and perhaps that shaving would have waited to be done in port.

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During the GAOP in Britain almost any one who was bearded was referred to as being from across the seas(ethnocentric fashions) ...anyone who has shaved with a straight razor can attest that nicks and cuts from a razor are frequent combine that with seawater to clean your face :D;););) since often fresh water was in short supply....I would think many sailors would have at the very least stubble and perhaps that shaving would have waited to be done in port.

Great point sir. Never thought about the lack of fresh water.

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Agreed...

Only the officers were allowed to waste fresh water to shave while at sea.

I have read accounts - post GAOP - about Captain's shaving while out.

The common sailor would either shave once in port aboard, or once on shore, and usually it would be accompanied by a haircut.

There are some superstitions that accompany all that as well.... :D

Edit; Callenish

I've shaved with a straight razor for several years and rarely have cut/nicked myself...

However, I've never shaved using seawater with my shave soap... not sure I want to see how that would affect the shave... ;)

Edited by Dorian Lasseter

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Aye Dorian today's straight razors are a bit of a cry from those of 300 years ago the quality of the steel and the ability of sharpening them ...I also usually shave with a modern straight razor but perhaps once a month or so i do get a small nick on a raised hair follicle or clogged pore. But one more item that you might have overlooked lad was the shaving soap which would have been a luxury rarely afforded by any common seaman....

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Aye Callenish, Agreed on all points made!

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Ah, but here's the rub: shaving with a blade is but one way of removing facial hair.

In Pepys' diary, Sunday, May 25, 1662, we read: To trimming myself, which I have this week done every morning, with a pumice stone, which I learnt of Mr. Marsh, when I was last at Portsmouth; and I find it very easy, speedy, and cleanly, and shall continue the practice of it.

(Pepys' Diary)

And I also add, from Wikipedia (venerable source of unfoundering truth):

In urban circles of Western Europe and the Americas, beards were out of fashion after the early 17th century; to such an extent that, in 1698, Peter the Great of Russia ordered men to shave off their beards, and in 1705 levied a tax on beards in order to bring Russian society more in line with contemporary Western Europe.

Throughout the 18th century beards were unknown among most parts of Western society, especially the nobility and upper classes.

Beards returned strongly to fashion during the Napoleonic Era.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beard)

As always in this hobby, much depends on your portrayal. Are you expected to conduct "respectable" business when in port? Would you have reason to "pass" as respectable, or is the character you portray wharf-rat vermin not seen outside the nunnery and the tavern when in town? Is your portrayal even in town, or are you playing a seaman aboard ship?

Edited by Quartermaster James

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blessed wikipedia, and blessed primary sources. One point about a beard is that if it was so socially frowned upon during this time to have, i am sure the average sailor would want to make his face quite smooth before setting foot in port. Whether you were respectable or not you still wanted the company of the towns single and "working" women. No matter how outlandish the rouge he would want the approval of the local ladies , or else he may end up vveeryy.... lonely... Over all i try to stay clean shaven, if i want a beard or mustache, i only need take a trip forward in time.

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A pumice stone would really hurt! Folks were a lot tougher back then!

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I have always felt that there is a good reason that Blackbeard cultivated a beard along with his fearsome reputation. Facial hair and barbarism went hand-in-hand in the 18th century. I myself wear a moustache, but I know it is wrong for the period. I do it because, when one looks like I do, one does whatever one can to disguise it.

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For this period, beards are obviously the exception and not the rule.

The reverse seems to be true among those who dress as pirates today... WAY too many bushy bearded pirates.

Somewhere I can hear Kass saying, "don't make the uncommon common..."

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There is a similar issue with buckskinning and the rocky mountain fur trade. You have a lot of bearded mountain men, however records show a lot of shaving equipment was taken to rendezvous to trade to the trappers. The major reason, the Indians did not like facial hair and if you were trading with them, as all trappers did, you did not want to offend. Dosen't mean I'm going to lose the beard though. :lol:

:lol:

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There is a similar issue with buckskinning and the rocky mountain fur trade. You have a lot of bearded mountain men, however records show a lot of shaving equipment was taken to rendezvous to trade to the trappers. The major reason, the Indians did not like facial hair and if you were trading with them, as all trappers did, you did not want to offend. Dosen't mean I'm going to lose the beard though. :P

:P

heck not just facial hair! they weren't a fan of body hair in general. Often going so far as to remove all their body hair(as well as some on the head)... i wonder if any trappers took it that fa...*cough...... I must say the bearded issue is something that seems impossible to fight. At colonial williamsburg i cant tell you how many applicants, wanted strongly to keep their facial hair......but part of the job was being clean shaven.(no job for them) Though i personally will keep it smooth as a well careened hull, i cant force others to do the same....or can i....*cocks pistol

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I have worn a moustache since I turned 19, but had to shave it off for the two years I worked at Valley Forge. They made it clear--either choose the moustache or the job. I grew it back when I transferred (started doing programs on the 1890's, so a dense Sam Elliott brush was completely appropriate).

I now face a similar dilemma--a Rev War unit I wish to join has strict policies concerning facial hair. I don't mind shaving for the occasional event, as I know it will grow back. Still, my lovely wife has never seen me without it, and so I may be risking my marital bliss...

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This shows why I love this pub. You guys rock.

I myself need a beard. Believe it or not most people want to see the blacksmith they are buying from to look like what they have pictured. Most picture a burly beard on a smithy.

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