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May 17, 2022

30 Vintage Portraits of Victorian Men With Impressive Beards

The mid-19th century was when facial hair really took centre stage. Just fifty years before, beards were a sign of degeneracy but by the 1850s they became the ultimate sign of class, sophistication and fashion. This didn’t happen out of the blue. Notions of masculinity and gender identity were building in this period and these led to the popularity of the beard.

Men were now working in offices and factories rather than out in the fields; the idea of what a man was ‘supposed’ to look like was being brought into question by the reality of desk jobs and city life. The combination of the requirement for fighting men and the concern about men becoming ‘soft’ led to a minor crisis in gender identity. This happened alongside increasing awareness of women’s rights and the early stages of feminism. It was at this point that the full beard came into fashion.

Dr. Mercer Adams, a professional and successful doctor during the period, described the beard as the “badge of manly strength and beauty”. It became a way to define ‘manliness’ during a period where gender identity was beginning to change.

Here is a set of vintage photos that shows portraits of Victorian men with their impressive beards.


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