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The evolution of beard trends- Photographs of different types of beard styles from 18th – 20th century

David Goran

As hipster will know, beards have fallen in and out of fashion throughout human history.

Throughout the course of history, societal attitudes toward male beards have varied widely depending on factors such as prevailing cultural-religious traditions and the current era’s fashion trends. In the 15th century, most European men were clean-shaven.

16th-century beards were allowed to grow to an amazing length.

Some beards of this time were the Spanish spade beard, the English square cut beard, the forked beard, and the stiletto beard.

At the beginning of the 17th century, the size of beards decreased in urban circles of Western Europe.

William Armstrong of Macon County, Illinois. source

William Armstrong of Macon County, Illinois. source

Two photographs of the same unknown man, each taken at a different studio in Texas. source

Two photographs of the same unknown man, each taken at a different studio in Texas. source1 source2

Ralph Curry of Franklin County, Indiana. source

Ralph Curry of Franklin County, Indiana. source

James Yarbrough of Schuyler County, Illinois. source

James Yarbrough of Schuyler County, Illinois. 

The English born E.A. Stansfield who emigrated to America and ended up as superintendent of Keystone Silk Mills in New Jersey. source

The English-born E.A. Stansfield who emigrated to America and ended up as superintendent of Keystone Silk Mills in New Jersey. 

George Oren of Macon County, Illinois. source

George Oren of Macon County, Illinois.

An unknown Australian man. source

An unknown Australian man. 

Joseph Pelts, “one of the best-known, best-liked, and influential men” of Dunklin County, Missouri. source

Joseph Pelts, “one of the best-known, best-liked, and influential men” of Dunklin County, Missouri. 

The Yorkshire born radical journalist Adolphe Smith, who worked with the photographer John Thomson. source

The Yorkshire-born radical journalist Adolphe Smith, who worked with the photographer John Thomson. 

During the early 19th century most men, particularly amongst the nobility and upper classes, went clean-shaven.

There was, however, a dramatic shift in the beard’s popularity during the 1850s, with it becoming markedly more popular.

Consequently, beards were adopted by many leaders, such as Alexander III of Russia, Napoleon III of France and Frederick III of Germany, as well as many leading statesmen and cultural figures, such as Benjamin Disraeli, Charles Dickens, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Karl Marx, and Giuseppe Verdi.

This trend can be recognized in the United States of America, where the shift can be seen amongst the post-Civil War presidents.

Before Abraham Lincoln, no President had a beard; after Lincoln until Woodrow Wilson, every President except Andrew Johnson and William McKinley had either a beard or a mustache.

Benjamin Lyman Morrison of Ripley, Massachusetts, born in 1828. source

Benjamin Lyman Morrison of Ripley, Massachusetts, born in 1828. 

Captain Charles Brownlee of Gibson County, Indiana, born in 1839. source

Captain Charles Brownlee of Gibson County, Indiana, born in 1839.

Albert Sands Southworth (1811–1894) who operated Southworth & Hawes daguerreotype studio with Josiah Johnson Hawes from 1843 to 1863, here photographed ca. 1848. source

Albert Sands Southworth (1811–1894) who operated Southworth & Hawes daguerreotype studio with Josiah Johnson Hawes from 1843 to 1863, here photographed ca. 1848. 

Victor Emanuel II (1820 – 1878) the king of Sardinia from 1849 until, on 17 March 1861, he assumed the title King of Italy to become the first king of a united Italy since the 6th century. source

Victor Emanuel II (1820 – 1878) the king of Sardinia from 1849 until, on 17 March 1861, he assumed the title King of Italy to become the first king of a united Italy since the 6th century.

Unidentified soldier with full beard in Union non-regulation uniform, between 1861 and 1865. source

Unidentified soldier with full beard in Union non-regulation uniform, between 1861 and 1865. 

Peter Cooper (1791 – 1883), the inventor of the first steam locomotive, the Tom Thumb – and reportedly also inventor of the first gelatin dessert better known now as JELL-O. source

Peter Cooper (1791 – 1883), the inventor of the first steam locomotive, the Tom Thumb – and reportedly also the inventor of the first gelatin dessert better known now as JELL-O

Horace Creeley (1811 – 1872), founder of the New York Tribune, founder of the Liberal Republican Party faction of the Republican Party, and an outspoken opponent of slavery, as well as sporter of one of the finest neck beards known to man. source

Horace Creeley (1811 – 1872), founder of the New York Tribune, founder of the Liberal Republican Party faction of the Republican Party, and an outspoken opponent of slavery, as well as sporter of one of the finest neck beards known to man. 

Frau Josephine Budra and Anna HUdjos, two hemaphrodites featured in Hermaphroditismus beim Menschen (1908). source

Frau Josephine Budra and Anna HUdjos  (1908). 

The crofter Karl Oskar Lööw, bron in 1873, photographed in Fredhäll, Sweden in 1933. source

The crofter Karl Oskar Lööw, born in 1873, photographed in Fredhäll, Sweden in 1933.

The carpenter Karl August Andersson, born in 1859, photographed in Sabbatsberg Old People’s Home in 1934. source

The carpenter Karl August Andersson, born in 1859, photographed in Sabbatsberg Old People’s Home in 1934

The yeoman farmer Ollas Per Persson, born in 1866, photographed in Almo, Dalecarlia, Sweden in 1935. source

The yeoman farmer Ollas Per Persson, born in 1866, photographed in Almo, Dalecarlia, Sweden in 1935.

The beard became linked in this period with notions of masculinity and male courage. The resulting popularity has contributed to the stereotypical Victorian male figure in the popular mind, the stern figure clothed in black whose gravitas is added to by a heavy beard.

We have another beard story for you: Joseph Palmer – The man who was sent to jail for wearing a beard

The resulting popularity has contributed to the stereotypical Victorian male figure in the popular mind, the stern figure clothed in black whose gravitas is added to by a heavy beard.

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