A blog in honour of Movember

Although the beard has made a major comeback in popular culture, the moustache still seems to be hanging in the, um, fringes of fashion, and still treated with a modicum of irony.

The annual Movember charity event has been a big boost for the fringe-dwelling facial fur, but it seems the only time of the year when the moustache becomes popular. Still, it’s a great event. We in the currency history trade, however, know that a moustache is never out of fashion.

Because money has always reflected a nation’s history and its historic leaders, currency has remained a showcase of the finest moustaches. Simply put, there are a lot of moustaches (and beards) on money. Admittedly, most of these moustachioed icons have been dead for the better part of a century, some for several, but this does little to dim the elegance and dignity of a good moustache.

In promoting Movember, and to honour this rather tarnished example of men’s grooming endeavours, we would like to present some of history’s great moustaches—as seen on bank notes from around the world. 

Molson Bank $10 bank note

William Molson Macpherson was president of the Molson Bank. Hopefully he used a mustache cup when enjoying a drink of beer. $10, Molson Bank, Canada, 1916

Czech bank note with warrior Jan Žižka in eye patch

Jan Žižka of Trocnova was a Czech warrior who never lost a battle—only an eye. And his walrus moustache is as fearsome as his eye patch. 25 korunas, Czechoslovakia, 1961

Italian bank note featuring Gian Lorenzo Bernini

The great Italian Renaissance sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini is here sporting an early handlebar along with an elegant imperial beard. 50,000 lire, Italy, 1992

Hungarian bank note with Francis II Rákóczi, Transylvanian prince

Francis II Rákóczi was a prince of Transylvania and a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece. No, “fleece” does not refer to his facial hair. 500 forint, Hungary, 2006

Dominion of Canada $2 bank note

Governor General, the Marquess of Lansdowne is here wearing an elegant waxed handlebar with a matching set of mutton chops. $2, Dominion of Canada, 1887

$100 Canadian bank note featuring Sir Robert Borden, 1976

Of Sir Robert Borden’s 22-man cabinet, 13 had moustaches. I think we can safely say that ratio will never occur again. 100 dollars, Canada, 1976

$100 Canadian bank note with Prince Henry, 1935

This neatly trimmed military moustache belongs to the little brother of King Edward VIII and King George VI. He was Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester. 100 dollars, Canada, 1935

Dominion of Canada $4 bank note with Lord and Lady Minto

That’s what is termed a “soup strainer” on Governor General, the Earl of Minto’s upper lip. Lady Minto is also featured. 4 dollars, Canada, 1902

Banque Ville-Marie bank note featuring Champlain

A popular figure on old Canadian bank notes was Samuel de Champlain, founder of Quebec and proud moustache wearer. Maybe. Nobody actually knows what he looked like. 5 piastres (dollars), La Banque Ville-Marie, Canada, 1873