Monday, 4 November 2013

Forgotten gurus: George R Sims

In this, the first week of Movember, let’s celebrate a true guru of male hair growth: George R Sims, journalist, dramatist, novelist, social reformer, gambler, sportsman, bulldog breeder and inventor of Tatcho hair restorer. 
Sims made a fortune from his diverse activities, and became a Victorian celebrity. By 1898 he earned £150,000 a year. Late in his career, he invented a hair tonic to prevent “inevitable” loss of hair, and the money continued to flow in. The bad news is that it didn’t do anything to improve his own receding hairline, and he lost virtually all the money he made through gambling.
In 1902, the British Medical Journal published an analysis of the content of Tatcho. It turned out to be mainly borax, glycerine, formaldehyde, alcohol, colouring and perfume: more cleaning product than growth-promoter. 
But as this 1909 advertisement shows, that didn’t stop Tatcho continuing to be a cultural phenomenon: “It will bring back the hair of your youth, make a new being of you, and give you a new grip upon life,” said the eternally reassuring advertisements. In an age when hair equalled vigour, men wanted to believe. And who knows, many may indeed have felt more confident in themselves having this slimy, semi-caustic blackening on their heads.