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THE TRADITIONAL PERSIAN
Diana Fineran March 14, 2002©
The origins of the Traditional Persian (Doll Face) are shadowed by long years of history. Let it be said that this gloriously long haired breed has been enjoying existence among us for many decades.
By the time cat shows began in England it was already a well established, admired breed. The Angora was the "other" long haired breed of the time, which was said to have a rather smaller head, with larger ears and fur more silky with a tendency to wooliness, in comparison to the Traditional Persian (Doll Face). Breeders trying to increase their Traditional Persian (Doll Face) breeding stock began using the Angora, causing the Angora to gradually disappear from British soil.
An interesting comparison to short haired cats gives the comments that the Traditional Persian (Doll Face) are not so amiable, or so reliable in their temperament. However, they are more intelligent and have a greater instinctive desire to make themselves at home in their surroundings. "The longer the coat the weaker the cat." One breeder stated. Kittens with unusually long fur were more difficult to raise and suffered from extreme delicacy. Inbreeding was blaimed for this. They require a great deal more care than short haired cats, because of the required grooming to keep their coat in order. Shedding causes these cats to have a rather lesser coat in the summer months. It is in the winter months that the Traditional Persian (Doll Face) is in its prime coat. In the early years there were two classifications of varieties of cat breeds. One was called the long hair or Eastern cat and the second was the shorthair or European cat. By 1902 the entries at large British cat shows were four to one with the Traditional Persian (Doll Face) predominating.
BLACK: Originally this color was to be absolutely uniform through out. No brown, rusty tinge, white hairs., shading of gray or blue and no undercoat of a lighter shade were allowed. Only full, round, deep orange eyes were acceptable. They were known to be very strong and healthy, often growing into large, massive cats. Breeding a true black could be come from a tortoiseshell female with a black male or two brown tabbies. Neither numbers of black nor prices paid for them were high in the beginning. Still they were used to intensify the coloring of silver tabbies and smokes.
In an early article from "Our Cats Magazine" an un-named author wrote, "White cats with blue eyes are not often to be obtained from abroad, neither are the black warranted to possess the amber eyes voted correct by up to date cattists. I know of a black queen straight from the land of cats and the palace of the Shah himself. It had the most glorious emerald eyes it is possible to imagine. As different from the ordinary run of green as flaming amber is from faded yellow. This cat, a Persian among Persians, had a coat as black as the proverbial jet, perfectly black throughout, long and straight, of fine, silky texture, but not giving one the impression of massiveness that is such a prominent feature of the type of imported cat. Moderate in size, slightly built, with an expression so foreign that it amounted to weirdness. This cat could with a dash of imagination have been worked up into the incarnation of a spirit, a soothsayer, the veiled beauty of a harem, a witch, snake charmer, what you choose, but always remain something far apart form prosaic England, something tinged with romance and the picturesqueness of the mystical East. This black cat was undoubtedly a typical Persian."
Old catalogs of Crystal palace shows proved that the number of Black entries were scarce. In 1886 the black male class was marked, "No entry." In 1889 Mrs. H. Warner (later Hon, Mrs. McLaren Morrison) made the sole entry of "Imp" in the black class. In 1890 Mrs. Warner exhibited "Satan", a black who was never beaten in all his years of exhibition. He was described as, "The most remarkable of unapproachable excellence. A veritable triton among minnows." Show Secretaries commonly put sentences in their reviews such as, "Good black with orange eyes were conspicuous by their absence", or "The black classes, as usual, were poorly filled."
WHITE: By 1902 some interesting details were presented, especially about eye color. A great change from yellow eyed whites to blue eye color, formerly considered quite rare, came about. The most perfect white Traditional Persian (Doll Face) at that time was found among the imported cats due to their certain beauty of form and silkiness of fur, unusually long coats, round heads, tiny ears and wonderful toe tufts, which were not possessed by the specimens bred in England. A draw back was mentioned about the rather savage disposition of the imported cats. Although they would be sweet tempered enough with human being, they were extremely fiery with their fellows.
Two points to consider about white Traditional Persian (Doll Face) in the early days was that they were frequently stone deaf, and they very often had odd colored eyes. The two colors being blue and yellow. Once in a while one would have sea-green eyes. Still the usual color was heavenly blue, not so much of a sapphire, but more of the deep forget-me-not blue.
Americans created a demand for white Traditional Persians (Doll Face) with blue eyes, which exceeded the supply of imported cats. In an early Beresford Cat Club Show (Chicago) the entries in the white classes were very large. Golden and blue eyed whites were subdivided according to sex, with all classes well filled. Mrs. Clinton Locke’s, "Lord Gwynne" was a noted white stud cat in the U.S., as was Mrs. Colbourn’s "Paris".
OLD BIRTISH CATTERIES
MISS WHITE ATKINS: Bred white Traditional Persian (Doll Face).
BISHOPSGATE CATTERY: Owned by Lady Marcus Beresford, this cattery had both Traditional Siamese and Traditional Persian (Doll Face). Among her "Persians" were "Blue Boy II" and "Beetle". One of the most lovely white imported cats was exhibited by Lady marcus Beresford at the Westminster Cat Club Show in 1900. The best judges declared that there was not a fault to find with "Nourmahal", but her career was a short one.
BOSSINGTON CATTERY: This cattery was owned by Mrs. Collingwood, of Leighton Buzzard, England. She maintained the numbers of cats in her cattery to about 30, divided equally between short haired and long haired varieties. Blues were her greatest favorite, which caused her to be on the Blue Persian Cat Society Committee.
"Royal Bobs", a big, massive blue male, did a lot of winning for her. He was bred by the Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein. His sister, "Jill" lived in one of the 12 cat houses distributed over the five acres grounds of Bossington. Small houses were mostly on wheels. Larger houses were kept for females and their kittens. Sometimes a corner of the hay loft was set aside for a mother cat too. Males cats were let out in the mornings and joined in the afternoons by the females. Mrs. Collingwood didn’t keep a stud cat, but neutered pets had their run about her house and ate their meals in a corner of the dining room.
Her ambition was to breed for smokes, to breed a perfect silver tabby and a perfect orange tabby.
"James’ was her beautiful silver tabby and during 1902 he won eight first prizes. At Altrincham he had the honor of claiming championship and the silver medal for the best cat in the show, beating all the long haired cats that generally carry off that coveted prize. At the Crystal Palace he was the admired of all admirers, with a number of prize tickets covering his pen.
There was great devotion shown to cats at Bossington. Mrs. Collingwood supported cat shows by making several entries, by guaranteeing classes and by giving handsome prizes. Her cats were always shown in the pink of condition with her in attendance.
MRS. S.F. CLARKE: Not every breeder had the luxury of having a lot of space in the country to breed cats. At her small house at Louth, England, Mrs. Clarke has great success breeding Blue Traditional Persians (Doll Face).
MRS. LENTY COLLINS: Her famous black Traditional Persian (Doll Face) was the wonderful big eyed, "Forest Beauty".
MRS. CROWTHER: In the North of England this cattery specialized in Black Traditional Persians (Doll Face).
KEPWICK CATTERY: Mrs. Warner first exhibited her black cat called "Imp" at the Crystal Palace Show in 1889. Since black cats were said to bring good luck, he took a first place. Thus encouraged, Mrs. Warner began her cattery. Later Mrs. Warner became Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison, who entered 14 cats in one show. Among them were two imported cats and the famous black Traditional Persian (Doll Face), "Satan". In 1897 Satan, with his glorious orange eyes, won everything he could at the Crystal Palace at an advanced age. He passed away in 1902, leaving a worthy son, "Lucifer" to take his place at Kepwick Cattery.
In 1890 Mrs. McLaren Morrison, then Mrs. H. Warner, made a name for herself as an exhibitor of white Traditional Persians (Doll Face). Six silvers won prizes at Sydenham that year.
Mrs. McLaren Morrison writes, "I have always been lucky with black cats, both long and short haired, but I especially love white Traditional Persians (Doll Face), and, in fact, at one time I owned a "white cattery". I may say I still have some good specimens, namely, "Musafer" ( famous imported cat), "Queen of the Pearsl" and "Lily". I love the imported cats, and always get them when I can. I have nine now at Kepwick. One of these hails from Patagonia and one from Afghanistan. My cattery at one time was twice again as full as now, but my losses have been great, and I have reduced the numbers so that I may give more attention to the young stock."
"It is only recently I have really gone in for orange Traditional Persians 9Doll Face), encouraged by the wins of "Puck" at the Botanical. I love this beautiful variety, but consider the queens of this breed very delicate. I have owned some fine blues at different times, and purchased for 25 pounds a beautiful fellow, bred from ‘Beauty Boy" at the Crystal Palace many years ago, but alas! He came home only to die. Foremost amongst my blues ranked my late Champion "Monarch", who held the Beresford Cup. Of late years I have taken up silvers. My first Chinchillas was Champion "Nizam", ancestor of such cats as "St. Anthony" and "Ameer". I bought "Nizam" at the Crystal Palace in the early days of silvers, and he only took second prize, because, I was assured , he was "too light" for first. I have a few Russians. I am most devoted to my pussies, and have tried to persevere in breeding good stock in the face of very great difficulties. I do not much care about running the risk of showing, but a true fancier likes to support all well arranged cat shows."
LADY DECIES’ CATTERY: This cattery was at her pretty summer residence at Birchington-on-Sea, where perfect arrangements were made in every detail for the comfort and well being of the resident cats. The stud cats had separate single houses, with good sized wired in runs and luxurious and cozy sleeping apartments in the rear.
The main cattery was in a sheltered portion of the grounds, and accommodated a large number of cats. The runs were arranged with boxes, bunches, chairs, and ladders and the sleeping quarters were built of brick and made very comfortable. A system of wooden blinds to the sides and on top kept the strong sea breezes and the bright rays of the summer sun regulated. Wood floors covered with cork carpet and raised about a foot from the ground kept a free current of air passing under the boards, keeping any dampness away.
Three rooms of Lady Decies house were dedicated to her cats. In two rooms the mother cats had their families, and the other was used as a "cats’ kitchen". Lady Decies herself designed and made the comfortable cat beds herself. The walls were adorned with pictures by Louis Wain and a display of prize cards won by her famous cats.
Zaida, a well know winning Silver female, lived in these quarters on soft cushions and couches. The famous and noted winner ,"Lord Southampton", was in her possession, after being purchased for a very high price. As a silver sire, he attained great success, having sired numerous winning kittens. His name in a pedigree was a safe guarantee for quality and color. Her cat, "Powder Puff" was presented to H.H. Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein.
A woman and a boy were hired to attend to the care of her aristocratic cats.
MISS KERSWILL: A successful and enthusiastic breeder of white Traditional Persian (Doll Face).
LESTOCK HOUSE: Begun in 1882 by Mrs. Herring in Lee England, this was a prominent cattery. Mrs. Herring was an enthusiastic member of the National Cat Club Committee, several of the specialist clubs, the Cat Club and the Northern Counties Cat Club. Her exhibits were well known for their quantity and quality with several wins to their credit. She would undertake to enter between 25 to 30 cats per show, arriving with her in a large omnibus or van. Starting with a short haired silver tabby called "Chin", she quickly turned her attention to long haired brown tabbies, where she chiefly made her name.
"Jimmy" was her superb specimen of a well marked silver tabby and he won everything he entered. He passed away in 1900, and it was said that they would not see the likes of him again.
Among many cats at Lestock House, "King Saul" was a noted tortoiseshell tom who won the Coronation Cup at the Botanical Show. "King Alfred", a Traditional Persian (Doll Face) silver tabby and "King Alfred" were well known winners in their day.
Two sensational silver tabby Traditional Persian (Doll Face) kittens she bred were ‘The Duchess" and "Princess Lestock". They were exhibited respectively at the Westminster and Crystal Palace shows where both were quickly claimed at the high catalog price. "Floriana" a huge, handsome Traditional Persian (Doll Face) brown tabby went to a new home in America.
Complaints of neighbors forced the reduction of over 40 cats, because several cat houses had to be removed due to their encroachment on the neighbors garden wall.
MISS HUNT: Bred white Traditional Persian (Doll Face) in Scotland.
MRS. NOTT: Bred white Traditional Persian (Doll Face).
MR. ROBERT LITTLE; Bred Black Traditional Persians (Doll Face). Some comments, "Few of these cats retain their proper color throughout the year. The sun and exposure induce rustiness, and in some instances to such an extent that the handsome jet exhibit of October or January is hardly recognizable as the cat in July or August.
The kittens seldom become really black until some months old, "Lady Bruin", for example, was so named on account of her brown or rusty appearance. Her coat is now, and has long been, of the densest black.
Long-haired black cats as a class are not so heavily or lengthily coated as some others. In many the coat resembles hair rather than fur, and these I have found the more consistently black and less liable to variation in shade. The tendency in all, however, is for the coat to become blacker with age.
The eyes of the kittens for the first month are blue. They then gradually change, and by the end of the second month it may be fairly ascertained whether or not they will possess the much coveted orange hue. Several moths, though, elapse before the shade is permanently determined, but I have never experienced a lighter shade supervening on a darker.
It is not necessary for both parents, or even either, to possess deep orange eyes in order to secure such in the kittens. I take it, never the less, the desired tint must have been "in the family".
The variation in permanent depth of shading in the eyes of members of the same litter is remarkable, and not infrequently the "white spot kit" or other wise less valuable member has the compensating qualification of deepest orange eyes.
The mystery of the white spot on the chest or throat has yet to be solved. In most black litters one at least has this blemish, and this generally settles the question which, if any, shall join the majority at a tender age. The unfortunate kit’s pedigree may be absolutely devoid of offence on this point. Apparently no precautions can prevent or eradicate the fault.
One of the most recent specialist societies to be formed is the Black and White Club, having for its object to promote the breeding and exhibiting of black and white cats, both long and short haired. In this last detail it differs from the other specialist societies that confine themselves to the one breed, either long or short haired ."
MRS PETTIT: Bred a tribe of blue-eyed whites in northern England. A visitor counted more than a dozen long coated, full grown, bonnie blue eyed beauties, walking around in the woods surrounding Mrs. Pettit’s home near St. Leonards – On – Sea.
DR. ROPER: Bred Black Traditional Persians (Doll Face) from the "Fawe" strain. He wrote these insights, "For many years black Traditional Persian (Doll Face) were a most popular breed, but, like fashions, for the time being other colors, I regret to see, are obtaining more notice from fanciers. For years I plodded away to breed what I considered a perfect black Traditional Persian (Doll Face). At last my labors were crowned with success. What can equal a richly colored, heavily coated, deep orange-eyed black?
"In breeding black, like any other color, it is essential you should procure the best of stock, and be prepared to give a fair sum for such, otherwise you are almost sure to be disappointed in your results, and, maybe, retire as a fancier of this color and try some other, but you will meet with the same fate if you hold the same views as to expense. A black Traditional Persian (Doll Face) should be perfect in color, with absence of white hairs, cobby in shape, short in leg, tail bushy and not too long, eyes large and deep orange, a good broad head, ears short with tufts and well set apart, short face, coat long and silky.
Having stated the points, I will now give my experience of breeding.
In my opinion, it is most important the sire should be a black, and one of his parents a black, whatever color the queen is. I have had great success in breeding from a black sire and a tortoiseshell queen. Through this cross you may get either black or tortoiseshells. As an instance I quote, "Johnnie Fawe" (black) and Champion "Dainty Diana" (tortoiseshell). From these I have bred many good black, amongt them "Dick Fawe", "Lady Victoria" and other good ones. Also good tortoiseshells, three of them having taken championships. Black may also be bred from a black and a blue, or two blacks. In this case, cross the sire with one of this progeny, which I have found very successful (here is evidence of use of inbreeding!). I admit there are other ways of breeding blacks, but in my experience the three ways I have suggested have proved to be the most satisfactory.
In breeding, to be sure of success so far as the eyes are concerned, if possible it is better that both parents should have orange eyes, the deeper the better, but it is most essential the sire should have good orange eyes. Not with standing the queen’s eyes being light amber, by crossing with a good orange-eyed sire the kittens are very likely to have good colored eyes, but not vice versa. As an instance, I once purchased a very handsome black queen, perfect in all point with the exception of the eyes, which were very light amber. I mated her to "Dick Fawe", who had the deepest orange eyes I have yet seen in a black. The kittens developed orange eyes. I have mated in the opposite way, and the result has been unsatisfactory so far as the eyes have been concerned, and if breeding for show the color of the eyes is most important. The late Mr. Welburn, a well-known judge, once said in one of his reviews of black at a large show (I think it was the Crystal Palace), "I scarcely think that that eyes alone should carry an award, yet it is always best to uphold the desired properties so hard to obtain."
"Having bred a litter of black kittens, it is unwise to make up your mind what color they are going to be until they have attained the age of six months. I remember once giving away a kitten at three months old, which I called iron gray and thought would or could never be black. Six months after I saw my friend, who thanked me very much for the lovely black kitten. Two months after seeing him I saw the cat. There were no white hairs, and the color was a perfect black. This last Richmond show I showed a black kitten, aged seven moths. It took a first, a second, and a special. At three months old I thought it was going to be a smoke. It was claimed by the Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison. I have a kitten now, aged three months, perfectly bronze in color and a gray frill. I have no doubt at seven months old it will be a perfect black. I have given these illustrations in order that those who are thinking of going in for black should not give up all hope of the kittens becoming black until the age I have stated.
I breed my kittens from January to July, and find they do much better in the catteries, all of mine being separate. And I find Spratt’s moveable runs most useful In showing black they should be brushed and rubbed with a Selvyt cloth daily one month previously and kept free of matted hair. The application of Brilliantine or American Bay Rum in small quantity brushed on gives a perfect gloss to their coats."
SEAGATE HOUSE: One of the largest catteries in Scotland, was owned by Mrs. Mackenzie Stewart in Irvine. Her blue stud cat, "Ronald" made a name for himself in England. Other colors in her ownership were silvers, creams, brown tabbies and the celebrated black stud cat ‘Dick Fawe", who sired many winning kittens. Mrs. Mackenzie Stewart traveled to London to show and to judge at the large shows there.
MRS. WESTLAKE: Bred white Traditional Persian (Doll Face).
MRS. FINNIE YOUNG: Bred white Traditional Persian (Doll Face) in Scotland.
Last Updated: 01/26/21
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