Charles Dickens’s cat paw letter opener
(Berg, New York Public Library)
When Dickens’s beloved cat died, he had his foot made into this letter opener, with the inscription, “C.D. in memory of Bob 1862.” Victorians, great lovers of taxidermy, sometimes had beloved pets stuffed, especially terriers, and then put under glass in the home. A dog called Wimbledon Jack, who had labored on behalf of charities by wearing a charity box attached to his collar, was stuffed after his death and displayed in a case at Wimbledon Station. In another act of memorialization (or maybe just thrift), Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Victoria, had the shed hair of her poodle knitted into a shawl.