The American Barbershop

August 19, 2021
Barbershop Window at PPF

The nostalgic barbershop inspired call and response reminds many little boys of the times they accompanied their fathers to the barber for a haircut and shave. 

Haircut, shave and tooth extraction were all good reasons to visit the local barbershop in the 1880s. During these times a haircut would cost five or ten cents and a shave cost three cents. As early barbers usually served as surgeons and dentists, you could take care of your dental needs at the same time!

The barber trade has a long history, as razors, made from oyster shells or sharpened flints, had been used by the Egyptians nearly 6000 years ago. In early Egyptian culture, barbers were highly respected members of society.

The iconic barber pole that we still see today brings us back to a time when barbers were expected to engage in "bloodletting" to heal people by releasing illnesses from the body. Today the barber pole embodies the skill, workmanship, and originality of today's barbers. And the red, white and blue lit barber pole is a sign to let customers know they are open for business. The pole is sometimes stationary or can rotate with the assistance of an electric motor. 

The William Marvy company of St. Paul, Minnesota started manufacturing barber poles in 1950.  Prior to that, there were only four manufacturers of poles in the US.  The company is now the sole manufacturer of poles in North America, selling only 500 per year, compared with 5,100 in the 1960s.

To learn more about the history of the barbershop visit our newsletter on the subject, The American Barbershop