The British Empire – Empire of the Moustache or The 100 year itch

So I was looking back in time, using’s famous app “TimeMachine”, and was about to post an epic retelling of a moustachioed episode (yes, that rhyme combo needs to be considered again, later) in Earth’s history when I found this post from not too far back, 2008.

Seems this guy has done his research! He even has a graph that charts the relation of the Imperial Empire to the popularity of large moustaches:


Caption not mine: “As can be seen from this graph, the hundred year period 1857-1957 saw the terminal decline of the Empire coincide directly with the decline in the popularity of large moustaches.”

It’s not surprising that success is linked to giant moustaches. As the featured post suggests, moustaches are a “potent symbol of virility”. Indeed! And another potent source of knowledge, Wikipedia, agrees: “Historically, masculine attributes such as beard [and moustache, obviously] growth have been seen as signs of virility and leadership (for example in ancient Egypt and Greece).[1]

Me: “Barkeep, sign me up for a shot of virility.”
Bartender: “No sweat, Straight Shooter, you got one right there on your upper lip. But give me $4 for pointing that out.”

So as I was saying, moustaches are cool. I think this is my favorite line in the article: “They were brushed and pomaded. The follicles were fertilised with patent unguents such as Ayre’s Formula, Elliott’s Tonic Lotion and Oldridge’s Balm of Columbia. The topiary luxuriance was trained with iron curling tongs.”

The first person to bring me a bottle of Ayre’s, Elliott’s or Oldridge’s get a free 2010 Stache Pag t-shirt. No shit at all. We don’t kid about these contests. If you come up with iron curling tongs…wow, will we find something awesome to give you (but we keep the tongs).

Wait, new favorite line: “Their ends were waxed and given a soldierly erection.”

Ah, to be a man in the late 19th century… (“By the 1890s, the moustache was the mark of every successful dandy. As far away as Hong Kong, it was said to be social death for a man to forget to curl the ends of his moustache.”) But if you could not grow a stache, what say the masses? Is SD (or Stachetile Dysfunction) a relatively recent phenomenon? Seems in 1956 there was some empirical evidence of its onset. One wonders, doesn’t one…

Well check out the post for some amazing photos. Here is an example:

Caption not mine: “Oversaw the disaster at Singapore. Blame can be placed directly on the moustache size preferred by Percival, described by a Japanese Officer as ‘Nasal hair trying to escape’.”

So while we cannot agree that the stache is an “appurtenance of terror”, it may be an appurtenance of something. Maybe confidence, maybe intrigue, maybe just a late night. Maybe–since we can’t put our finger right on it–the stache is the “appurtenance of mystery”. (foreshadowing to a future post? maybe.) personally, I am satisfied with the “appurtenance of maybe”.

Oh, and a side note: we use the English spelling of moustache on this site, despite this annoying red squiggly line under it each time I type it. In fact, I like the red line because it reminds how often I use the word moustache, which is important, because it is a website about moustaches.