20 June 2024

The Marvellous Story of Louis Coulon and his Colossal Cat Beard

Humour me for a moment, if you will.

Imagine, that it’s 1904 and despite being a septuagenarian, your modelling career is in full swing!

You have a beard so unshorn that you gain international notoriety for it.

Now, stretch that mighty imagination of yours to envisaging a kitten sheltered in said facial fur.

“That’s madness!” I hear you say.

Well, however mad it may be, this is the story of Louis Coulon and his colossal cat beard.

What inspired Louis Coulon to grow such a colossal beard?

Louis graced the world with his presence way back in 1862, on February 26th, in the French town of Vandenesse (Nièvre).

Can you believe that by the age of twelve, he was already complaining of a blunt razor due to excessive shaving. And, as early as fourteen, was already sporting a whopping half a meter (19.6″) of growth!

Louis Coulon’s career

Painting of Burmeister and Wain Iron Foundry in 1995
Burmeister and Wain Iron Foundry, Peder Severin Krøyer 1885 / Public domain

Following in his father’s footsteps, Louis worked in the cast iron moulding ‘Forey Factory’ in Montluçon.

How on earth he coped in that sweltering heat with that beard of his, is an absolute mystery. Though, not only did he cope, but according to Le Petit Journal (1st August 1905), the ‘Dean of Metallurgists’ (as they named him) worked at the plant for a monumental 67 years. And, according to the article, his beard measured 3.5 metres, with an accompanying moustache of 1.5 metres. Nuts!

You’d think that his insanely long beard must have hindered his work, right? But no, Louis Coulon came up with a rather novel way to deal with it. It is told that he rolled up his beard into a kind of ‘mattress’ and laid it on his chest under his shirt. Nothing like an extra layer of personal insulation, working next to a blast furnace!

Louis Coulon’s modelling career

Three photos of the bearded louis coulon leaning casually

Throughout his late adult years, Louis and his beard posed for numerous postcard prints. To be fair to the chap, he really seemed to know what he was doing. There’s no denying the blatant fact that he had mastered the art of the casual lean.

Three photos of the bearded louis coulon. Two show a cat in beard, another with birds.

Anyway—casual leans aside—in this treasure trove of photographs there are a couple of especially engaging ones. In one, cocooned in that mane of his is a tiny black kitten. In the other, sometime later in his life, a small black cat nestles in. Through extensive research, I was unable to determine whether or not this is in fact the same cat, although much of the documentation does suggest it is.

Bedroom antics

Just in case you felt the need to know, each night whilst preparing for bed, dear Mr Coulon tied up that beard of his to avoid strangulation.

So it seems that unfortunately, with such woolly splendour comes a potential threat to one’s own life! Which leads to my next point perfectly…

Don’t go trying this at home kids!

To conclude this marvellously hirsute story, I would just like to suggest this:

However tempting it is to foster a clouder of kitties in your facial hair, please do your utmost to resist the urge!

Just think of the grim potential for lice, foul odours and the inevitable backache from carrying this monstrous beast of burden from only your chin. 

Not to mention that it could all end in tragedy, like the man who tripped over his own beard and died.

That’s a story for another time though.

Check out more delectable purrplex blog treats!

For a digestif, I suggest heading over to another Purrplex page. This time feline fur, not human: Cat snaps: Fluffy felines

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