This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

What shave and haircut, two bits, means

If you have ever heard the old expression, *Shave and a hair-cut, two bits* (which, by the way, is irresistible to 'toons), you may have wondered what it all means. There are a couple of things here that need explaining.

The first thing is that men have only been shaving themselves since the late 1800's.  Before the invention of the safety razor, which we use now, faces were shaved by professionals who used a very sharp straight razor. So, men didn't shave very often, as it cost money. Clean-shaven men showed their wealth on their face. Of course, we still get haircuts today, but I've never had a barber ask if he could shave me. If it was 100 years ago, he would have wanted to give me a deal. He would offer to do my shave and a hair cut for two bits.

Two bits is an old expression that meant twenty-five cents. A *bit* is an eighth of a dollar, going back to the old Spanish *pieces of eight*, which you should remember from pirate stories. Spanish dollars were divided into eight pieces in those days, and even though United Stated money was never divided that way, people back then were in the habit of talking about *bits*. So, two bits equaled twenty-five cents.

By the way, that handsome fellow in the picture is my great-great-great Grandfather Elisha Banks Hall. I'll bet that he could have gotten a shave and a haircut for less than two bits!

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