Rediscovered: Poe’s Mustache

Autograph Hound Saturday, with Brian Leno back on the stick to show off another offtrail corner of his John Hancock hobby. While I’m sure Brian would have nothing against getting some major signature if he had the opportunity, a Bill Shakespeare or Jack the Ripper, I imagine he’d also salivate if the auto of Jack the Ripper’s barber was up on the block.

Here’s Brian:

In July of 1849 Poe entered John Sartain’s engraving shop in Philadelphia and had a wild story to tell.

The writer said he overheard two men talking about a plot to assassinate him. He asked Sartain for a razor, figuring that if he shaved his mustache he would be unrecognizable.

To Sartain, Poe appeared distraught, obviously not quite right in his mind, and perhaps suicidal. He told the poet that he never shaved and so didn’t have a razor — but he volunteered to cut Poe’s mustache off with a scissors.

So, apparently, Sartain removed one of the most recognizable of all literary mustaches.

However, Peter Ackroyd, in his Poe: A Life Cut Short, doesn’t seem to put too much faith in the story, stating that Poe did have a mustache still when he got to Richmond.

Either way it’s a helluva good story.

Autograph, on a check, of John Sartain, one of the owners of Sartain’s Union Magazine, which published Poe’s The Bells and Annabel Lee:

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