Hair-brained schemes

Highly elaborate wig-snatching schemes were very much a thing in the 18th century

No one can argue that it’s an interesting time to be alive, but we wouldn’t mind if there was still the occasional elaborate wig-snatching scheme that somehow involved monkeys.

According to Atlas Obscurawig snatching was a rather prevalent crime in 18th-century England — as you can see in the above engraving, which immortalizes one such heist: As an incredibly handsome woman struts alongside a high orchard wall, her impossible coiffure is lifted off her head by a mischief-making monkey.

Related: Drag Queen Wig Styling Tip: How to Curl or Crimp a Synthetic Wig

Such crimes were, in fact, fairly common. Periwigs decked out in lace and ribbons were embraced by the upper class and inspired a number of wiggy thefts. The “surprisingly elaborate” schemes would often involve long poles, animals, and boys hauled on shoulders of “impostor butchers.”

Yea, as Atlas Obscura explains:

One of the most successful wig-stealing schemes involved concealing young boys in baskets and under blankets, according to William Andrews, author of the 1904 book At the Sign of the Barber’s Pole. In an episode in England, a boy rode in a butcher’s tray carried on the shoulder of a tall man. As the pair walked passed a victim, the boy twisted the periwig off the head and the man would take off in the opposite direction, leaving the confused owner clutching at his or her now bald head.

It was also not unheard of for wig thieves to employ dogs. In this variation of the scheme, a boy would harangue a brilliantly bewigged nobleman as another boy pulled his hair off and threw it to a pooch.

As Margaret Visser explains in The Way We Are: What Everyday Objects and Conventions Tell Us About Ourselves, all three would then split down different alleys and reconvene later to celebrate their most recent acquisition. The nobleman would be more concerned with covering his bald pate than finding the naughty boys and dogs responsible.

And really, that’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as nefarious wig-stealing capers are concerned. You’re encouraged to read the full Atlas Obscura article in its entirety, and perhaps together we can figure out how to bring this wiggy phenomenon back into the modern world.