Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Jack Black (Rat Catcher)

Jack Black was rat-catcher and mole destroyer by appointment to Her Majesty Queen Victoria during the middle of the nineteenth century. Black cut a striking figure in his self-made "uniform" of scarlet topcoat, waistcoat, and breeches, with a huge leather belt inset with cast-iron rats. When he caught any unusually colored rats, he bred them, to establish new color varieties. He would sell his home-bred domesticated colored rats as pets, mainly, as Black observed, "to well-bred young ladies to keep in squirrel cages".  The more sophisticated ladies of court kept their rats in dainty gilded cages, and even Queen Victoria herself kept a rat or two. It was in this way that domesticated—or fancy—rats were established.