There once was a “beard tax” in England (and in Russia), those who payed the tax were given a token

 
 
 
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To be honest, when we first heard the term “beard tax,” we hoped that it would be some new measure to control this odd “hipster beard” phenomenon. However, despite our hopes, the “beard tax” actually goes back to the 16th Century in England.

In 1535, King Henry VIII, who sported a beard himself, introduced a tax on beards.

Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII of England

It was a graduated tax depending on the beard wearer’s social position; the higher was the wearer’s standing in society, the larger amount of money he had to pay, making facial hair a symbol of status.

Photograph of unidentified man with beard
Photograph of unidentified man with beard

After the beard tax was dropped, Henry’s daughter, Queen Elizabeth I of England, re-introduced it again and began taxing every beard of more than two week’s growth.

Russian-orthodox-monk-with-a-large-beard
Russian Orthodox monk with a large beard

In 1698, Emperor Peter I of Russia, as part of his efforts to modernize Russian society following European models, instituted a beard tax for everyone who sported a beard or mustache.

Peter the Great ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from 7 May (O.S. 27 April) 1682 until his death,
Peter the Great ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from 7 May (O.S. 27 April) 1682 until his death,

In Russia, the bearded men who would the pay the beard tax were required to carry a “beard token.”

A Russian beard token from 1705, carried to indicate that the owner had paid the beard tax imposed by Peter the Great
A Russian beard token from 1705, carried to indicate that the owner had paid the beard tax imposed by Peter the Great

The beard token was usually silver or copper coin, embossed with a Rusian Eagle on one side, while on the other, the lower part of a face with nose, mouth, whiskers, and beard.

The token was inscribed with two phrases “the beard tax has been taken” (lit: “Money taken”) and “the beard is a superfluous burden”.

Here is another interesting read from our vault that you may like:Unusual bearded baseball team: The House of David team was a baseball version of the Harlem Globetrotters

The “rebels” who would resist paying the tax on their facial hair were punished by being forcibly and publicly shaved. The beard tax was eventually abolished in 1772.