Since 1926, a 3-foot tall black wooden cat has resided in the Savoy Hotel in London. He spends most of his time inside a display case opposite the hotel gift shop, but joins any table of 13 diners to increase their number to 14 and avoid the dreaded number 13 “curse”.
According to the story, in 1898, a hotel guest, Woolf Joel, hosted a dinner party. There were supposed to be a total of 14, but one guest canceled at the last minute, leaving 13 people. Joel laughed at the superstition that said the first person to get up from the table would be the first to die. Joel was the first to rise, and he was murdered in South Africa shortly afterward.
For some time afterward, not wanting another episode like Joel’s that could damage their reputation, the hotel had a member of the hotel staff sit at tables of thirteen, but guests wanting to talk about personal or private matters didn’t like the idea; so in 1926 a new solution was found. British architect and sculptor Basil Ionides was commissioned to create a three-foot-high model of a black cat.
Winston Churchill, a cat lover himself, was quite fond of Kaspar, he insisted the cat be present at every meeting of The Other Club, a political dining club he had founded in 1911, and Kaspar has been at all the fortnightly meetings — always held at the Savoy — since 1927.
During World War 2 Kaspar was catnapped by some Royal Air Force personnel and flown to Singapore, and Churchill himself demanded its immediate return!
The Savoy Hotel was closed for extensive renovations in 2007, but upon re-opening in 2010, Kaspar was on the job once again!
[Photo: Getty Images]