Interesting thing is to why that boom happened - I have a copy of a paper someone wrote about the fact there was a beard boom from 1850's to 1890's.
It said that there were many pamphlets being published that talked about illnesses from shaving - not a completely alien idea, since with cut-throat razors and tetanus and the like it was a real possibility. But there were also some rather interestingly cult-like ones about vitality of men, that cutting the beard was taking men's power like Samson, and that men should be naturally bearded - some invoking some evolution ideas if I recall correctly. It was like a cult of the beard....a Masonic Lodge of Beardiness. Also a crisis in masculinity, and early women's movements maybe?
BTW that's on JSTOR too - it's where my partner pulled it from.
Also, if I ever get a Time Machine thanks - I just got a target date, about 1885 or before, London, England. Geronimo! (oh he can stay where he is, no beard...)
Just found it, it's called 'The Beard Movement in Victorian Britain' by Christopher Oldstone-Moore, Victorian Studies, Autumn 2005.
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