Russian Beard Tax Token

Peter the Great (1672-1725), Tsar of Russia, wanted to Westernize his nation. To do so, among other actions, he required the men of Russia to shave their beards in imitation of the highborn men of Western Europe. Or, alternatively, to pay a beard tax. Men who paid this tax were given a token as proof:

On 16 January 1705, men 'of all ranks', including merchants and artisans (but not priests, deacons and peasants), were ordered to shave. Anyone who wished to keep his beard and whiskers had to pay a fine on a sliding scale according to status: 60 roubles for nobles, military officers and chancellery officials, 100 roubles for merchants of the first guild, and so on. Permits took the form of a beard token disc obtainable from the Police Office. Bearded persons had to pay a kopeck each time they entered the city gates.

Link -via The Oddment Emporium | Photo: US State Department

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