Blackbeard vs. Fashion

Arrr, me maties!

It be International Talk Like a Pirate Day — a day dedicated t' natterin' like a pirate. 'n a day fer ye t' grab yourself one o' our world-famous Mo Bro’s site-wide discount codes. We’ll give ye th' low-down on that at end o' th' post (although th' code be right thar in th' feature image if ye can’t wait).

Afore that, we’re goin' t' natter about pirate beards. 'cause every pirate wagin' war across th' seven seas had a beard, right?

Er, nah quite.

It pains us t' say this but it turns out that durin' th' golden years o' piracy, beards weren’t mighty popular. Ridiculous, we know. But, sadly, true.

Fair play t' Captain Jack Sparrow 'n Hector Barbossa fer supportin' th' idea that most pirates had beards; however, durin' th' early 1700s facial hair jus' wasn’t on trend, on land or sea.

I wanna look fine, most o' th' time

Bein' swab-shaven was smart durin' th' pirate’s heyday. Scallywags found it attractive. So whenever thar was a special event like thar ship arrivin' at a port, pirates would shave t' look thar best when they hit th' town.

Shavin' definitely wasn’t an everyday thin' mind ye, twice a week at th' most. That’s 'cause th' tools used fer shavin' were pretty brutal. Most crew hands couldn't afford th' all-new steel razors that had recently arrived on th' groomin' market, so they were left t' shave wit' iron blades or th' sharp edge o' broken glass, pluck out hairs individually wit' a pair o' iron tweezers or scuttle stubble wit' a pumice stone, which stopped hurtin' once yer face had toughened up aft a couple o' months. As fer soap - well, 'twas jus' whatever swabbin' product was kickin' about.

Th' thin's scallywags do fer fashion, ey?

Visitin' th' barber surgeon

Shavin' wasn’t always a struggle, though. Jus' like we get t' go t' th' barber fer a quick trim ahead o' a special occasion, pirate ships had thar owns on-board barber who had access t' th' mighty best blades fer shavin' 'n cuttin' hair 'n th' skills t' use them.

Except these barbers also happened t' be surgeons 'n those same blades used fer shavin' were used fer minor surgery such as bloodlettin' (cuttin' a vein t' drain blood as a way t' keep patients in good health) 'n more major operations like amputatin' limbs.

So th' scallywag that be givin' ye a close shave on a Sunday would be th' same game givin' ye an enema on a Monday.

Despite how clearly dangerous a pastime shavin' was, th' vast majority o' pirates persisted, except one scallywag in particular.

Captain Blackbeard

Captain Blackbeard be th' most infamous pirate o' all time. No one comes close. But he owes a lot t' his fellow pirates o' th' time. 'cause if they all gave up shavin', he wouldn’t 'ave been so recognisable.

He’d 'ave been jus' another cap'n wit' a beard, remembered more fer his real name, Captain Edward Teach (which sounds more like someone headin' up a crew on University Challenge than a scallywag reekin' havoc on th' high seas).

Fer whatever reason (maybe 'cause he refused t' bow t' th' pressures o' pirate trends), Blackbeard decided t' grow hisself a black beard. Which in hindsight was great fer marketin'.

Durin' his brief spell terrorizin' th' Caribbean at th' helm o' th' Queen Anne’s Revenge (a former slave ship fitted wit' 40 cannons), Blackbeard’s beard was thought t' be his biggest weapon. In fact, th' mere sight o' his long black scallywag mane approachin' would be enough t' intimidate other ships into surrender.

Here’s how Blackbeard’s contemporary, Captain Charles Johnson described Blackbeard’s fearsome facial hair:

"So our Heroe, Captain Teach, assumed the Cognomen of Black-beard, from that large Quantity of Hair, which, like a frightful Meteor, covered his whole Face, and frightened America more than any Comet that has appeared there a long Time. This Beard was black, which he suffered to grow of an extravagant Length; as to Breadth, it came up to his Eyes; he was accustomed to twist it with Ribbons, in small Tails."

It’s thought that Blackbeard would tie lit fuses t' his beard durin' battle as a way t' make 'im look like th' Davy Jones. Combine that wit' knee-high boots, a long, brightly coloured silk coat 'n three pistols hangin' o'er his shoulder 'n ye can imagine why other ships would wave th' white flag without raisin' a cutlass in wrath. 

Blackbeard eventually met his maker at th' hands o' Lieutenant Robert Maynard durin' th' Battle o' Ocracoke, but th' legend o' his beard lives on, albeit wit' a number o' different looks.

Pick yer favourite from this lot:

OG Blackbeard 

Original Blackbeard

Image credit: Mental Floss


Blackbeard the Pirate
Blackbeard Pirate Film
 Image credit: iMBD


Blackbeard’s Ghost
Blackbeard's Ghost

 Image credit: Disney Wiki


Blackbeard the Hunk
Blackbeard the Hunk

  Image credit: BBC


Blackbeard the antiques dealer
Pirates beard

 Image credit: Disney Wiki


LEGO Blackbeard
Lego Blackbeard

 Image credit: Bricklink


Wha' kind o' look would ye sport as a pirate: swab shaven wit' a shard o' glass or hair up t' yer eyeballs 'n bows in yer beard like Blackbeard?

Whichever look yer goin' fer, it needs work. Which leads us seamlessly onto this: yer International Talk Like a Pirate Day discount code.

Use th' code “PDAY15” at checkout t' get 15% off yer order. 'n thar are no exclusions. 'cause if ye really are a pirate, ye needs all th' groomin' help ye can get.

Be quick, though. Th' code expires Midnight 20th September 2018.