The advent of the men’s health campaign Movember 2013, inspires a consideration of the rise, development and decline of Sir Henry Wellcome’s moustache-action over several decades.
As a young man in the USA we can see, c. 1880, his wispy early specimens, combined, in one instance, with a rather regrettable beard, which he clearly soon abandoned to concentrate on cultivating particularly resplendent foliage on his upper lip.
The 1890s were the heyday of a Wellcome ‘tache so luxuriant that it became a signature feature in the cartoons by Fred Reynolds:
A new restraint became perceptible as the twentieth century dawned, although the moustache formed a noticeable element on the plaster cast taken in 1902. And a discreet moustache continued to adorn Sir Henry well into the 1920s:
but had disappeared entirely by the 1930s, if the Simone bronze bust is any indication.
Author: Dr Lesley Hall, senior archivist at the Wellcome Library