Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

August 29, 2013

The boys club

Ladies have always had those special gathering places that, by their nature, are for “women only.”

In the Victorian era, ladies of means gathered in the home to decorate porcelain at painting parties. A common pastime in the early part of the 20th century was the quilting bee. In the 1960’s many of our mothers enjoyed an afternoon of Bridge with “the girls.” And on Wednesday evenings, my daughter and her friends all pull on their Spandex and head out for a night of Zumba. Yes, we gals have always found our ways to get a few moments away from the men.

To balance the scales, there exists an oasis of masculinity that has remained pretty much a “boys club” since it’s inception in the mid-1800s. A place to relax, read the morning paper, share political views and catch up on all the local gossip – yes, men gossip too. A place where a man always felt welcome, even catered to, no matter what his social position. No membership dues or scheduled meetings here, just a chance to escape from the worries of the day at the neighborhood barbershop.

From the striped pole at the entry, to the basic tools of the trade, barbershop memorabilia is attracting an ever-growing audience of collectors. Whether it be a barber chair for $1700 to a shaving brush for $10, the memorabilia from the glory days of the barbershop are in high demand.

Shaving mugs, from 1860 to 1930, have long been a popular collectible.Collectors watch for “occupational mugs.” When a man was a regular at a barbershop, he would be assigned his own personal shaving mug. These commissioned mugs,with the name of the owner in quilt lettering and a hand-painted illustration of his profession, added a touch of individuality and prestige to the daily grooming ritual. Prices vary greatly with the rarity of the profession dictating the value. Recently realized prices at a noted Mid-west auction included a farmer’s mug at $20, a seaman’s mug at $200, and an early baseball player’s mug for $2,500.

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