Today’s Smile is dedicated to our brother-in-law Darryl Mann.

Sunday September 5, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Beard Tax

On this Day:

In 1698, Russian Tsar Peter the Great imposed a tax on beards, which only goes to prove that the government will try to shave tax money from people any way it can.

A beard tax is a governmental policy that requires men to pay for the privilege of wearing a beard. The most well documented beard tax was in place in Russia during the 18th century.

In 1698, Emperor Peter I of Russia instituted a beard tax as part of an effort to bring Russian society in line with Western European models. To enforce the ban on beards, the tsar empowered police to forcibly and publicly shave those who refused to pay the tax. Resistance to going clean shaven was widespread with many believing that it was a religious requirement for a man to wear a beard, and the Russian Orthodox Church declared being clean-shaven as blasphemous.

The tax levied depended upon the status of the bearded man: those associated with the Imperial Court, military, or government were charged 60 rubles annually; wealthy merchants were charged 100 rubles per year while other merchants and townsfolk were charged 60 rubles per year; Muscovites were charged 30 rubles per year; and peasants were charged two half-kopeks every time they entered a city.

The tax raised an average of 3,588 roubles annually over the first four years beard tokens were available (1705–1708). However, from a financial standpoint, the tax was unsuccessful due both to the relatively low number of people unwilling to shave their beards and an overestimation of the ability of the Russian state to administer and collect the tax. In 1772, the tax was formally repealed by Catherine the Great.

Those who paid the tax were required to carry a “beard token” (Russian: Бородовой знак). This was a copper or silver token with a Russian Eagle on the reverse and on the obverse the lower part of a face with nose, mouth, whiskers, and beard. Several different versions were minted between the issuance of the decree and its lifting in 1772. The first token was minted in 1698 or 1699, followed by the more common round, copper token minted in 1705 and again in 1710. A rhomboid version was issued in 1724 and 1725. Walter Hawkins published a paper in 1845 illustrating an example of the token from his own collection and describing the history of the tax in Russia.

The 1705 versions was inscribed with the words “money taken” (ДЕНГИ ВЗѦТЫ) on the obverse and the date in Cyrillic numerals (҂АѰЕ ГОДѸ, “Year 1705”) on the reverse; the 1710 version was largely the same with an updated date (҂АѰІ, “1710”). The rhomboid version of 1724/1725 was smooth on the reverse with the phrase “beard tax taken” (СБОРОДЫ ПОШЛИНА ВЗЯТА) on the obverse and “the beard is a superfluous burden” (БОРОДА ЛИШЬНАѦ ТѦГОТА) on the edge. The date on the later tokens was written in Arabic numerals.

A persistent legend claims that King Henry VIII of England, who wore a beard himself, introduced a tax on beards, and that his eventual successor Elizabeth I tried unsuccessfully to increase the tax. Contemporary documentation of the Tudor beard tax, however, is lacking, and The National Archives has no record of such a tax having been instituted.

The bearded Francis I of France received approval from the Pope in the early 1500s to levy a tax on priests’ beards in part to fund his wars with the Holy Roman Empire. This led to a divide between the wealthier court ecclesiastics who could afford the tax and poorer village priests who could not.

In 1936, the Kingdom of Yemen introduced a “no-beard tax,” allowed men with clean-shaven faces to pay a tax in lieu of growing a beard. This policy differed from the approach taken in other Islamic nations where tradition and sharia law have been used to require the growing of beards under threat of punishment (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

At first, I did not like wearing a beard. But in time, it grew on me.

Second, a Song:

Live Bearded’s Mission:

We help beardsmen look, feel, and be their best!

We believe when you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you Do Better in all areas of your life. As a company we sell grooming products, but we exist to support our community celebrate brotherhood.

“Don’t wish life was easier, wish you were better” – Jim Rohn

As a company, and as men, we believe it’s our responsibility to Do Better every day, to learn from our mistakes, grow through our failures, and strive to be the best men we can be.

We believe life is always happening for us, not to us. For us to learn, grow, and evolve. Life is littered with adversity and hardships and through these challenges comes strength if you’re willing to face them head on and grow through them.

We strive to lead by example, live with gratitude, and have as much fun as possible while inspiring our community and those around us to do the same.

Live Bearded story of the Music Video:

“As we were preparing for Beer’d Fest 2018, a few guys on our team (Nathan, Dustin and Adam) had the idea of using the event to make a parody music video. It sounded like an awesome idea since there would be a couple hundred people at the event, and we could use the bar, stage, etc for a great setting. 

As they played around with ideas, songs, and lyrics the idea for “Friends With Hairy Faces” started to take shape. Nathan, Dustin and Adam went back and forth on lyrics for a couple weeks and the song really came together. 

Once they had the lyrics finalized, Dustin asked his buddy Eric Metz, a singer, and songwriter if he would lay the track in his studio. He agreed and absolutely crushed it!

From there, it was off to Castle Rock, CO to host Beer’d Fest 2018 with our friends at Burly Brewing Co. so we could bring this baby to life. Hosting an event is never easy and there is always an endless amount of things that need to be done. So, shooting an entire music video on top of everything that goes into hosting an event is no small task. 

To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure we would be able to pull everything off, but our team came together with the help of so many at the event, and we were able to make it happen. 

Special thanks to everyone who helped make this video possible, everyone who attended Beer’d Fest 2018, our co-hosts and friends at Burly Brewing Co and our brother Eric Metz for recording an amazing track for us! (from

“Friends in Low Places” is a song performed by American country music artist Garth Brooks. It was released on August 6, 1990 as the lead single from his album No Fences. The song spent four weeks at number one on the Hot Country Songs, and won both the Academy of Country Music and Country Music Association awards for 1990 Single of the Year.

“Friends in Low Places” was written in 1989 by songwriters Earl Bud Lee and Dewayne Blackwell. The two songwriters had given the song to Brooks to record as a demo soon before the release of his self-titled first album, when he was a relatively unknown singer. Enamored with the song, Brooks recorded the official version the next year. Mark Chesnutt recorded the song for his second album Too Cold at Home (from Wikipedia).

Here is Live Bearded parody video “Friends with Hairy Faces” (based on the Garth Brooks song). I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“Kissing a man with a beard is a lot like going to a picnic. You don’t mind going through a little bush to get there!” – Minnie Pearl

Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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