Facial Hair Friday: the Mustache Spoon

Since the origin of our nation, women inventors have contributed innovations large and small to our society. For Women’s History Month, today’s Facial Hair Friday post features a very specialized invention developed by a woman for use by men.

Before modern-day hipsters donned their flamboyant facial hair, large, extravagant mustaches were all the rage in the Victorian era. But how did Victorian men slurp such delicacies as soup without soiling their well-groomed staches or melting the wax that kept them in place? The mustache spoon of course!

One of the earliest mustache spoon patents was by New York engineer, Solon Farrer, in 1868. In 1873, Ellen B. A. Mitcheson of Philadelphia submitted this patent for an improvement on mustache spoons. 

Her idea was to add a piece of metal to a regular spoon that allowed the liquid to move through the spoon into the mouth without making contact with the mustache. 

According to her letter accompanying the patent drawing:

The object of my invention is to enable the wearer of a mustache to convey soup and other liquids to his mouth by means of a spoon without danger of soiling or disfiguring his mustache; and this object I attain by combining with the bowl of a spoon a shield, a, in the manner shown in the perspective view, Figure 1, the shield being such that, while it permits the user of the spoon to receive into the bowl by the usual dipping process a proper quantity of soup, the latter can be conveyed to the mouth without any portion of the liquid being brought into contact with the mustache.

Several mustache spoon patents were taken out in the late 19th century for use by both right and left-handed men. The use of mustache spoons, however, declined in the 20th century when mustaches began to fall out of favor. With mustaches back in style, maybe it’s time to bring back the mustache spoon!

Visit the National Archives Catalog for more digitized patent drawings.

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