Sunday, July 8, 2012

Moustaches, Mustaches and the Proper Victorian and Edwardian Accoutrements for Them

"There is no worthier accomplishment for a man with a moustache than to take soup in an inoffensive manner… and by no means should the moustache be used to strain the soup." Cornelia Dobbs’ 1908 "Guide to Manners"

Example of a U.K. made, all silver moustache spoon c 1880s

In the 1800s, dining etiquette dictated that one have the correct utensils and other accoutrements at the dining table to be fashionable.  Men with food in their mustaches were not fashionable in the least, so spoons and guards were invented for them.

 My husband had a bushy mustache that he was very proud of in his younger years.  He has talked about growing it back, now that he is in his 60s.  I thought he looked rather dashing in the 1970s.  Now that his hair has thinned out with age though, I have been curious to see how he would look if he decides to regrow his.  He is still debating the issue with himself however, while I am perusing Ebay and other sites for mustache spoons and mustache cups.  There are none currently listed on Ebay, but I did find a genuine 1894 antique moustache spoon for sale (like this below-left), but in silver plate, with a price of $899.00 I think it really belongs in the hands of a serious collector.

1894 California Expo Mustache Spoon

English author and poet, Rudyard Kipling once wrote of a woman who had complained that being kissed by a man who'd not wax his mustache was like "eating an egg without salt".

Rudyard Kipling
Mustache cups are easily found, yet the mustache spoons are  not always easy to track down. Invented in the latter half of the 1800s, when mustaches were worn by the most prominent of men, including a few Presidents of the United States, genuine moustache guards, clips and spoons are hard to come by. Though moustaches have made comebacks over the years, everything for mustaches except for mustache cups, seemed to fall out of favor until the 1970s.
Theodore Roosevelt

Chester Arthur
Grover Cleveland

Reed & Barton Moustache Spoon, courtesy of Maura Graber

Several reproduction mustache spoons were made in the early 1970s, alas not in steling.  I may have to settle for one of those in silver plate.  
Olympian Mark Spitz

Moustaches made a huge comeback in the 1970s, due to the likes of Robert Redford, Olympian Mark Spitz, Rob 'Meathead' Reiner and Burt Reynolds.
Rob Reiner from "All in the Family"

Burt Reynolds

They are fairly easy to find on sites like Ebay and Ruby Lane, though many sellers list them incorrectly as "sterling."  And depending on who is selling them, the spellings for searches can be either "mustache" or "moustache" due to the fact that Mustache is the U.S. spelling of the word and Moustache is the preferred spelling in all major varieties of English other than American English (aka British, Irish, Australian, etc...) Check out 'Grammarist' to see the differences explained.  I cannot decide which I prefer, so I am using both!
Britain's King Edward VII

There are quite a bit of antique mustache combs, in sterling and in silver plate available too, so if you are in the market for gifts your moustachioed man would like, they are plentiful.  Finding things like these gems below, might be a bit difficult though.

1882 Moustache Guard to hold one's mustache up

1876 Mustache Guard Which Clips on to a Cup

Moustache Guard for Spoon
Design for a Moustache Spoon 1890


  1. My uncle always had a pencil-thin mustache, just like Jimmy Buffet sang about. Love my uncle Frank! Great post.

  2. Really fascinating to read. I love the patents!