Crass Menagerie

It’s one thing to shoot a bear, another to take its dignity. From a feature on “animal furniture” in Strand, August 1896:

“This obsequious-looking bear was shot in Russia by no less a personage than the Prince of Wales; and for years it has ‘waited’ meekly in the smoking-room at Marlborough House.”

Evidently this was the vogue in the 1860s. Further examples:

  • A chair made from a baby giraffe shot in British East Africa
  • A pet monkey converted into a candle holder (“Mr. Jamrach, the famous wild beast importer, was vexed with orders for dead monkeys”)
  • A black swan table lamp, made to order for a wealthy Australian gentleman
  • A “tiger chair” made for a gentleman in the Indian Civil Service (“Observe the ingenious way in which the tail is disposed, as though the tiger were coiled right round the chair”)
  • A small elephant made into a hall porter’s chair

Gandhi would later write, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”