False Find at Papermania

Last weekend I indulged in a photo buying binge.  I had a reason.  It was Papermania, the largest ephemera and photo show in New England.   Had a great time and bought some really wonderful photos.   Here’s one.

I wrote about false beards in Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900, but didn’t have an actual example to show. I couldn’t believe what I found at Erin Waters booth. A guy in a false beard.

Take a close look at his right ear. You can see where the false hair loops over his ear.  The beard is very different than his natural hair, but that’s not what tipped me off.  It was the piece near his ear.

So why would a man wear a fake beard?  Not all employers allowed their workers to have facial hair or perhaps this unidentified man couldn’t grow the beard of his dreams. Here’s picture proof that they existed.

Oliver B. DeMorat took this photo. According to Linda A. Ries and Jay W. Ruby’s book, Directory of Pennsylvania Photographers 1839-1900 (Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1999), he had a studio at 2 S. Eighth Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 1864-1887.  This photo is from the early 1870s.

6 Responses to “False Find at Papermania”

  1. I wonder if it was even real human hair. It certainly looks “full”. Maybe he was a charter member of Hair Club For Men? :)

  2. You suppose this man could be a woman do you? Just a thought.

  3. Oops, I ment to say you don’t suppose this man could be a woman do you? Sorry I left out the word don’t. :-/

  4. Very interesting! I wouldn’t have thought about the person being male, but that is an interesting thought, and probably happened occasionally.

  5. Caroline Pointer says:

    I agree that he might be a she. The facial features look feminine, and it looks like she is trying too hard to sit like a man. However, I can’t get a good look at the hands. Just a thought.

    ~Caroline Pointer

  6. The hair in the beard doesn’t look real to me. More like some kind of artificial fiber. At first, I thought a fake beard wouldn’t look real, so why wear one, but then again, lots of men wear toupees that don’t look real either.

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