Why Did King Victor Emmanuel II Of Italy Give His Toenails As Gifts?

Did a king ever give his Toenails as gifts? Yes. One king did, and he did it more than once.

King Victor Emmanuel II was the first man to rule over a united Italy and was probably also the first to give away his toenails as presents. Every year while he was king, he allowed the nail on one of his big toes to grow without being cut.

Every New Year’s Eve, he had this toenail clipped. It would usually be about half an inch long. On good years, it was even a bit longer. The nail was then sent to the royal jeweler, who filed it into an artistic shape, edged it with gold, and embedded diamonds and other gems into the surface.

The nail was very valuable then, and the king gave it to his sweethearts. Every year, nails would be cut and fixed up that way.

The biggest collection of these odd gifts was owned by a countess who later married the king.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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