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Facial Hair Culture

What is a Mustache Cup?

mustache cup

Mustache Cup & Saucer

Beachville District Museum Collection
Photo credit: Sidney Hicks

Proud mustache wearers expended much effort shaping and maintaining their facial hair. During the nineteenth century, one of the main threats to the finely curled mustache was a piping cup of tea. The heat of the beverage melted special, mustache waxes and stained facial hair. By the late 1800s, Harvey Adams had designed the mustache cup as a solution to these problems. The cup had a secret shelf, or ledge, that protected the mustache and a hole through which to drink through.  At the height of their popularity, these pieces were made by well-known ceramic manufacturers and were given matching saucers.

The Weird and Wonderful World of Beard Contests

Beard contests, you may have heard of them, you may have stared in awe at pictures on the internet of the over the top styled mustaches and beards or you may have cringed at the site of people’s faces covered in overgrown  hair. Whatever your feelings are about them, beard contests are here to stay and are only increasing in popularity. The trend of men competing to grow the largest or most elaborate facial hair seems to have originated in the mid to late-1800s but did not become part of the mainstream until the 1990s.

Typically the purpose of the competitions are to see who can grow the longest beard or style it in the most creative way. This has led to participants using wax and other products to style their beards and mustaches into spikes, loops and other shapes, with the most elaborate beards forming small worlds with landscapes and props. In some competitions, participants also wear costumes to enhance the look. National beard and mustache competitions take place all over the world each year including Australia, the UK, the USA, Russia, Germany, and The Netherlands, among many others. The World Beard and Mustache Championships first began in 1990 and are held every two years.

The Norwich Beard Contest

medal for 2nd place

Beard Contest 2nd Place Medal

Norwich and District Museum
Donated to the Norwich Museum in 2020 by Barb Crittenden

Second-place medal won by Ralph Crittenden in the Norwich Beard Contest, “Best Designed Beard” category, 1967.

The Norwich Beard Contest was hosted by the Norwich Lions Club as part of the Canada Centennial Celebrations.


Article from the Norwich Gazette covering the Norwich Beard Contest, 13 July 1967

Courtesy of the Norwich and District Museum & Archives.

centennial costumes

Centennial costumes of Dave Moore and Jim Alexander

 Dave has a tall wooden staff, large brimmed hat, and brown overalls on one shoulder. He has a wooden pipe with a painting on the bowl. Jim has a striped brown, orange, and beige jacket with an orange vest and brown top hat.

Dave Moore (on the left) was one of the judges of the Beard Contest.

Norwich, 1967. Courtesy of the Norwich and District Museum & Archives.

group photo large

3000.8 Centennial 1967 group photo of beard growers

Norwich and District Museums & Archives

Front Row: Albert Cornwell, Darwen Scott, Norm Marshall, unknown, Willie  McLelland, Laverne Irving, Don Batson, Lee Wright, unknown, Doug Avey, Jack McMillan, Jim McLaren, Bev Avey, Carm Sweazey, Glen Penny, Bill Smith, Dave Moore

Second Row: Don Sweazey, Fred Andrew, Jack Parker, Roger Orth, Alf Lossing (flowered vest), Mike Fidlin, Ralph Pick, Don McPherson, Harold Williams, Harold Stover (bow tie with tails), Ross Warboys, Howard Alexander, Don Clinton?,  unknown, Howard Cornwell, Paul Butler, Lyle Manicom, Carmeron Topham, Frank Butcher?, George DeWaele, George Malcolm, Wayne Force, Barney McKernan, Howard Davis, unknown, unknown, Jim Arthur, unknown, Howard Nix, Bill Parkhill, Ralph Crittenden (white shirt), unknown, Tom Sims, Joe McKiernan, Rene DeCooman

group photo

3000.7 Centennial 1967 Beard Contest – winners

Norwich and District Museum & Archives

Front Row: Lee Wright (Thickest/Bushiest Beard), Wayne Force (Funniest Beard), Doug Avey (Best Van Dyke or Goatee)

Back Row: Jack Parker (Best Full Beard), Mike Fidlin (Best Designed Beard), Darwen Scott (Best Lamb/Mutton Chop), Stanley Arthur (Most Colourful Beard), George DeWaele (Sparsest/Scraggliest Beard)