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  • Cam Writt

Duty on Hair Powder Act 1795

Updated: May 7, 2019

I’d like to talk about hair powder with you, because the people with whom I wanted to discuss it aren't here right now. When we think of hair powder today, we tend to not know what it is, and we become aggravated with anyone who brings the subject to our attention. Back in the late 18th Century, hair powder was hardly selling anymore, but the Parliament of Great Britain imposed a tax on it anyway. This meant that anyone wanting to purchase hair powder had to first go to a stamp office and purchase an annual certificate, costing one guinea (modern equivalent of 52 gerbils). Most people found the addition of paperwork to the errand of getting hair powder to be “a horse bonanza” and “dreadfully thrilling”*. Seventy-four years after its introduction, the hair powder tax was repealed, and this resulted in large crowds filling the streets mumbling “Fine, okay”.


*These can be confirmed by the inscriptions on the soles of Beau Brummell, which were only visible when he was suspended upside down in a barrel of pomade.

©2019 by Cam Writt