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Everyone has 15 minutes of fame, the saying goes, and for one man, it was due to his enormous beard housing black cats. Louis Coulon was born in France in 1826 and, according to one account, started growing facial hair by age 14.

But by the time Coulon was age 78 in 1904, his beard hair reached as long as 11 feet and perhaps longer by the looks of it! By trade, he worked with cast iron as a metallurgist in a factory, which raises all kinds of questions since it’s hard to know how he preserved such a massive beard in his line of work. But he had another interest: posing for postcards with cats and family.

Louis Coulon with cat in his beard, postcard from France, 4

Images of Louis Coulon via Wikimedia Commons

“Come on everyone, gather round Grandad’s beard!”

Louis Coulon, French man with 11 foot beard that nested cats, Radagast the Brown, Tolkien, France, 1

Postcards of Cats and Birds in a Cozy Beard Nest

Sometimes, the curious postcards featured black cats peeking out of the tangled mat of grey hair.

Louis Coulon with cat in his beard, postcard from France, 2

They look quite content and safe inside their protective nest.

Louis Coulon with cat in his beard, postcard from France

But it’s not clear if this was just an amewsing idea to capture public interest in the postcards, said to have become “relatively famous.” Or, did these cats truly enjoy taking refuge like this at home?

Louis Coulon with cat in his beard, postcard from France, 3

Whatever the case, he looks a lot like a grizzled wizard out of a Tolkien book, Radagast the Brown. Could Tolkien have seen postcards of Louis Coulon for inspiration for his wizardly “lover of birds” and nature? If you are familiar, birds nested in the character’s beard in the films.

 Louis Coulon, French man with 11 foot beard that nested cats, Radagast the Brown, Tolkien, France, 2

Video of Louis Coulon via Wonder World Tube:

As you can see, there are postcards featuring what looks like taxidermy birds in Coulon’s whiskers.

Antique postcards of Louis Coulon and his epic beard, France, 2

Given that Tolkien was writing his books in 1930, it’s possible he might have seen these popular postcards, of which there were many.

Antique postcards of Louis Coulon and his epic beard, France

But regardless, Coulon certainly looked like a character who could easily step out of a forest in Middle Earth.

Radagast the Brown via Wikimedia Commons

Radagast the Brown via Wikimedia Commons

Louis Coulon’s Epic Cat Beard

By some accounts, Coulon’s mane was at least three meters or nearly eleven feet long. But he doesn’t hold the world record, living before the Guinness World Records. Today, the current record holder has a beard of 8 feet and 3 inches, Sarwan Singh from Canada. He’s held that record for the longest-bearded male for 15 years.

It doesn’t look like Singh, a practicing Sikh who has never trimmed his sacred hair, is prone to nesting cats or other creatures in his facial hair. Yet there’s nothing to say he won’t one day. Nevertheless, Louis Coulon’s claim to fame will always be secured, a legendary beard which occasionally housed felines. 

Video by Guinness World Records:

 

 

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