Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mustaches of the past

Now that Mercury's Rise, the fourth of the Silver Rush historical mystery series, is well and truly done, I've time to turn attention to this rather neglected blog (blows virtual dust off).

In this latest installment of the ever-continuing Silver Rush saga, protagonist Inez Stannert and her friend, photographer Susan Carothers, travel to Manitou (sometimes called Manitou, sometimes Manitou Springs). The intent of the trip is for Inez to re-unite with her much-missed young son and her sister. Most of my posts here will focus on bits and pieces of research for the story. (I'll not promise all posts, because one must leave room for serendipity.)

I shall begin with mustaches, because... well, because I want to. And because the World Beard and Moustache Championships just finished. (Thank you, author Sarah Smith, for mentioning this momentous event on Facebook.) The connection to Mercury's Rise follows...

One of the characters in this newest book, Terrance Epperley, is a young British remittance man who sports a "facespanner" mustache.

When I started the draft, I could see this fellow clear as day in my mind's eye. His mustache extended straight along the horizontal, from one side of his face to the other, fierce in its impeccable grooming.

Can you picture it?

Now, I had no idea that this particular facial decoration was a well-known and documented style until I stumbled across the wonderful blog Mustaches of the Nineteenth Century (isn't the internet amazing??). Here, I found explanations, terms, and photos for the mustache I envisioned and many more besides. The blogger was (I use past tense, because, alas, the last post was in 2010) meticulous in keeping his/her list of classifications up-to-date, so you can search "facespanner" (I've done it for you here) and view some truly amazing photographs of facespanner mustaches of the past.

If you want to know what (the fictional) Terrance Epperley's mustache looks like I commend you to the 2007 post Straight and True, which features the image below:


Renaissance Women said...

Absolutely fascinating. I have been using that word a lot, but is is so appropriate. I can't wait to read the next installment. I know others who are awaiting the new release.

Heidiwriter said...

Wow, I ditto Doris' comment--fascinating. I've always admired those curled up mustaches too--must be a lot of work to keep up!

Ann Parker said...

Hello Ms. R.W.! :-)
I hope to keep this blog updated weekly... we'll see how it goes. I love the 19th century mustache blog. Just wish the blogger continued, but there's certainly lots of information here, "as is."

As for Mercury's Rise, I feel like a parent watching a kid head off to college: "Did you pack everything? You going to be okay? Any last questions?" Then, it's time to head out into the world!

Ann Parker said...

Hi Heidi!
I believe you're right. I think men back then must have spent as much energy on their mustaches/beards as women did with their hair! Well, maybe not, but I gather it was an area of great focus.

Maddy said...

Now that is one heck of a moustache!

Ann Parker said...

Hello Maddy!
Yes indeedy, I was very excited when I found this photo. The character in MERCURY'S RISE who sports this bit of flamboyant facial hair is named "Epperley." I think the name fits! :-)