Just who is A.B. Moler?

Who is A. B. Moler?

Portrait of A. B. Moler

Mr. Moler himself

If you’ve ever barbered for a living, then there’s a high chance you’ve never heard of him. Which isn’t your fault, he’s hardly a household name. But thanks to him, you are where you are now. A. B. Moler was the man to go to for barbering advice and training for nearly 40 years!

A. B. Moler was born in 1868, Chicago, Illinois, and there’s very little information available about the first formative 21 years of his life. At 21, however, is when the magic began. Moler began his barbering apprenticeship then, under the tutelage of his older brother who had learned on the job until he was something of a dab hand. For the first 3 years of his apprenticeship, Moler didn’t really feel he learnt all that much, being primarily engaged with floor-sweeping, neck-shaving and hot towel dispensing, which he felt added little to his trade.

Did this lack of training inspire him to become what he is famous for? Potentially. I would hazard that it was most likely the major influence.

Barber School

A. B. Moler 'Trimming Full Crown'

Just how old is this technique?!

Over the next 10 years, A. B. Moler devised a method of training that led to the founding of the “Moler System of Barber Colleges”. Beginning with his main college, which was founded in 1893, Chicago (his home town), the colleges spread to almost every major city throughout the United States and Canada! Quite an achievement for someone who felt the first 3 years were a waste. These barbering schools were the first of their kind, not just in the US, but in the world!

The same year of the training school opening, he published his first text book: The Moler Manual of Barbering. This was just the first in a wide range of textbooks the prolific and multi-talented A. B. Moler wrote. Including, but not exclusively: The Barbers Manual (1911) the main image for this article, The Manual of Beauty Culture (1922), Ambition or Just Plain Laziness (1930) and The Manual of Cosmetology (1947). Quite the catalogue.


Moler's Diagram of a face for shave

Is this the face of mercy?

A. B. Moler’s dedication to his career and spreading the knowledge is what made him a legend, being inducted to the Barber Hall of Fame in 1965, and quite deservedly we would say.

And that’s all there is to say! A man who became a barbering legend boiled down to a few hundred words. If you can get a hold of a copy of his works, like we have, we highly recommend it. You never know, he might teach you something from beyond the grave. I’ll leave you now with some selected pictures from The Barbers Manual and the opening paragraph from A. B. Moler himself:

“In England, America and all over the civilized world, the decline of the barber was a spectacle for all to see. Barber shops became hangouts, places where low characters assembled. Smutty stories, malicious scandal and gossip of all kinds, characterized barber shops. Until a few years ago, a barbershop was a place where men showed their lower instincts and where women dared not to enter.”

Thanks for ruining it for everyone Moler!

Until next time

Dark Stag Team

All images displayed in this article are used from wikimedia commons or taken by the Dark Stag team.

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