Figure 1.--This unidentified boy wears a classic summer Fauntleroy suit. He looks to be about 5 years old. Mother has put a lot of thought and effort in his ringlet curls. Unlike most ringlet styling, his hair is not done symetrically. Notice one ear is not even covered and their is only one shrt, albeit fat ringlet. On the other side, however, his hair ringlets come down toward his shoulders. Also notice the top curl over the crown. Mother has had the studio use a mirror to capture her creation in all its glory. The cabinet card is undated, but the card mount suggests the early 1900s, probably about 1900-05. The photographer was Bennett's Studio in Beloit, Wisconsin.

U.S. Boys' Ringlet Curls: Popularity

There is no doubt that ringlet curls for American boys were enormously popular, at least with mothers. Actually ringlets were not as unpopular with boys as one might imagine. This was largely a matter of age. Younger children crave the attention of their parents. And ringlents required a lot of time and attention. Of course as boys got older, the poinion of their peers became important. Less clear is just why mothers liked ringlets so much. It was probably the same reason mothers luje to dres boys in cute outfits. Another issue iswhy ringlet curlswere so popular in America. . The popularity of ringlet curls in America is easily documented by the ampel photographic record. Countless images exist of American boys wearing ringlets. Ringlets appear to have been enormously popular in America. Most of the portraits in the ringlet curls section are of American boys. I am not sure why this was. Of course our American archive islarger than for any other country, but the relative appearance of ringlets is even more notable than the absolute numbr of photographs. We suspect that may be related to the tremendous economic expansion of America after the Civil War (1861-65). Large numbers of Americans with very humble backgrounds made a lot of money in the country's industrial expansion. And average incomes exceded European levels. Many newly well-to-do Americans were anxious to show their success and influence. And fashionanle clothing for themselves and children were one way to do this. Hair styling was another way. The idea was to emmulate how they thought wealthy people in the Northeastern cities and Europe dressed. Some mothers were so impressed with their handiwork that they wanted a record preserved for prosterity. And this meant that they needed a back or side image, sometimes both. A few mothers had a portrait take of the back, but this was not very common and of course a little expensive. It also wa not as pleasing visually as a portrait without a face lacked appeal. Another alternative was posing the child by a mirror. Tiseems to have been a little more poula because it include the face along with the back.


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Created: 9:16 AM 5/29/2016
Last edited: 9:16 AM 5/29/2016