Unicorn Week – To Horn or Not To Horn?

Martin Frobisher presented his Narwhal tusk to Queen Elizabeth I in 1577 who had stumbled upon it in his own strait no less, Frobisher’s Strait that is, where I here you ask? Canada Eh. This Narwhal tusk would soon enter the Crown Jewels as the Horn Of Windsor. Did Frobisher know what a Narwhal was? Was it a con? Who knows, what was sure was the price, with the queen bee fooled, it soon sat upon the prestigious throne of being an actual unicorn horn with a unicorn price of 40 000 Euros, well over that in todays monies. Not all were fooled however, even some at the time believed that what was found on the corner apothecaries shelf was a far cry from being a unicorn horn. Naturally this led to uhm……

testing……..

Let The Tests Begin!

  • Scientist – King James I
  • Product – Unicorn Horn
  • Place – England
  • Subject – Lowly Servant

King James purchases a supposedly real Unicorn horn for 10 000 smackaroos, mixes a delicious draught of freshly made poison for his servant to drink with some powdered unicorn horn to act as an antidote, shaken right in. ‘Drink Young Man’ or old man, I don’t know, this poor guy could have been any age, the King shouts at him ‘Drink!’ down it goes and down he goes.

  • Conclusion – James now sees he has been conned into buying some silly white tusk, no doubt some heads will roll in the marketplace tomorrow, but he now is satisfied with having dodged downing a fake batch himself.

Thus Concludes Our Testing Period

So who broke the spell? well it was none other than Danish zoologist Ole Wurm, who decried the falsehood in a public lecture in 1638 on Narwhals and the subsequent true origin of the Unicorn horns most were seeing. Though immediate attention was not paid, it soon sent ripples through the Unicorn stock market. You see, the kings of Denmark had grown rich and fat by monopolizing this trade and guarding its secret. Oddly enough, their very own throne was plated in Unicorn horn, I am not going to lie, this thing looks pretty cool even for it being fake, well fake Unicorn horn anyways, check out the picture of it just below.

Prices of Unicorn Horn plummeted toward the end of the 17th century, Charles I of Britain’s horn depreciated from 8 Grand to just 600 bucks in 1659.

The horn however, did not lose its flimsy medicinal appeal for at least 100 years, it was also used as the emblem for European pharmacies.

Not everyone bought it forever, as during the 19th Century many a scientist applied their wits to solving this Unicorn mystery, including one French Naturalist by the name Baron Georges Leopold Cuvier. Himself already established as a respected dinosaur fossil pioneer. In a commentary on the descriptions of unicorns in Pliny’s Natural History, Cuvier declared that in his opinion a cloven hoofed ruminant, such as the unicorn was supposed to be, could not possibly have a singular horn owing to the fact that it would have to grow over a division of the bone of its forehead. Similar opinions were echoed and carried in the scientific circles such that, to the dismay of some, some stories which may have held some substance, particularly from Africa and Asia were dismissed as fanciful travellers tales.

By the turn of the century the skeptics had all but won, save a few romantics who still entertained the notion, some suggesting more seriously than others, such as Charles Gould who went so far as to enlist the help of one Charles Darwin in his quest.

This however is not the end of the story my dear friends, oh no, because in 1906, among a collection of exotic animals from Nepal presented to the Prince of Wales, intended for the London Zoo, arrived a few unicorns, yep not just one, unicorn rams at that, cloven hoofed beasts that were normal in every aspect except one…

From each of their foreheads sprouted but one horn…

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