Uncommon Knowledge: Should beards be outlawed?

Wooden Whiskers Combs | UncommonGoodsIf you’re the Russian emperor, then you certainly might think so. In 1698, Peter the Great returned to Russia after a tour of Europe, ready to bring his own country into the “modern” world. In addition to governmental reforms, economic reforms and military advancement, he wanted to update the nation’s fashion sense—and clean-shaven faces were all the rage on the Continent. Peter started his campaign right away, at the formal reception welcoming him back from his European tour. After greeting his guests, he brought out a straight razor and began shaving off the men’s beards! The guests were horrified, but were in no position to deny their ruler. He made beardlessness the law, and his police were even known to shave offenders in the street. There was, not surprisingly, much resistance to such a decree, and eventually Peter compromised. Instead of repealing the law, he instituted a beard tax. Those who wished to grow their facial hair could receive permission to do so for a yearly sum, which added to Peter’s coffers while allowing his subjects to save face.

Wooden Whiskers Combs, $12

Written by Nathan

Nathan is a copywriter, who helps create our product descriptions as well as our weekly emails. He is also a nationally award-winning musical theater writer, whose work includes an adaptation of Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver. Nathan has also been a classical violinist, tutored Kazakhstani jewelers in entrepreneurship, created large-scale games played across entire city blocks, served as a missionary in South Korea, conducted experiments in sonoluminescence, co-founded an exotic fruit-growing business, was a theater critic for Tucson Weekly, and as a teenager composed a women’s jazz quartet that is currently performed around the world.

1 Comment

  1. Sheryl

    The tsar was smart enough not to mess with the common man. Peasants (at that time serfs who were virtual slaves) were exempt from this decree.

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