Sep 8 2012, 2:38pm
In other words, a being need not be aged to have a beard (as exhibited in Men), and so I think Elves need not be aged looking if bearded. Or in other, other words, the matter of the beards does not necessarily speak to outward ageing in other ways.
emphasis more on 'young' men can have beards
But Tolkien repeatedly insisted that Elves were beardless. The note in Vinyar Tengwar (and hence this thread) was retconning; Tolkien was uncharacteristically careless when he stuck a beard on Cirdan, but since it appeared in print T by his self-imposed rules regarded it as a hard datum.
Beleg appears to have had a short beard in an early illustration by Tolkien -- although some have argued that this might really be a shadow or something, I assume (!) Hammond and Scull have seen the original artwork, and they note, in seemingly certain terms at least, that Beleg has a short beard in JRR Tolkien Artist and Illustrator.
If I recall correctly, it's actually only the very late note in Unfinished Tales which appears to say that it was a characteristic of all Elves to be beardless -- which contradicts Cirdan, Nerdanel's father (the Vinyar Tengwar note), and possibly earlier ideas, again if one accepts a bearded Beleg.
Of course if we go back far enough to The Book of Lost Tales we can find, for example: 'Know you that the Noldoli grow old astoundingly slow, and yet have I grey hairs in the study of all the tongues of the Valar and of Eldar.'
This is Rumil the door-ward, who here had been a slave under Melko, and was: 'old in appearance and grey of locks, and few of that folk were so; but the other had a weather-worn face and blue eyes of great merriment, and was very slender and small, nor might one say if he were fifty or ten thousand.' JRRT, The Music of The Ainur, The Book of Lost Tales I
(This post was edited by Elthir on Sep 8 2012, 2:47pm)