AH CHOO (1900)
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In her day, 'Ah Choo' was the 'glamour girl' of the Siamese breed. Her dam 'Polyphema' was a powerhouse of Mrs. Vyvyan's famous strain of 'Tiam O'Shian' Siamese and 'Ah Choo' was the product of a father to daughter breeding between 'Tiam O-Shian III' and 'Polyphema'.
The 'Tiam O'Shian's had been selectively bred by careful outcrossing and then line-breeding, and the sisters Mrs. Vyvyan and Miss Forestier Walker were duly proud of their accomplishments over a nearly twenty year period:
"A pair from the Palace were given to Mrs. Vyvyan and myself in 1884-5,and we have been very careful in breeding , mating when possible with such good cats as Mrs. Lee's celebrated 'Meo', Miss Moore's 'Siam', Mrs. Harrington's 'Mechi', etc, and have bred in consequence, the famous 'Tiam-O-Shians' II, III and IV., 'Polyphema', 'Susa', 'Kitya Kara', 'Goblin', 'Champion Eve', 'Mafeking', 'Vishuddha', 'Ah Choo', 'Suzanne' and many others."1
Being a daughter of 'Polyphema', 'Ah Choo' can also claim full sibling status with a string of top class Siamese, and as a daughter of 'Tiam O'Shian III', to being a sire-sibling to a plethora of other cats, bred from this particular bloodline.
The risks associated with showing were not to be underestimated. 'Show fever', as distemper was invariably called, was a very real threat, and many an excellent specimen was shown, only to return home to die.
Mrs. Parker Brough explains the breeder's fear of showing kittens:
"Owners run a great risk in sending their Siamese (especially kittens) to shows, as in addition to being more liable to take cold, are apt to fret themselves ill at being separated from their mistresses. Many fanciers are leaving off showing Siamese for that reason."1
When one considers the tragedy of these losses, it is easy to see how the breed gained a reputation for being "delicate", and "more sensitive" than even the most delicate of longhaired breeds. Yet despite these disappointments, the dedication of these early breeders won through, and it is thanks to their sheer determination and hard work, that we can count 'the Royal Cat of Siam' among the most popular breeds on the planet today.
'Ah Choo' was born on 3rd May 1900, bred by Mrs. Vyvyan. She was sired by 'Tiam O'Shian III' and out of his most famous daughter, 'Polyphema', who was at that time, regarded as one of the best Siamese females to have graced the show bench, with perhaps the exception of her other daughter 'Champion Eve', who was a full older sibling to 'Ah Choo', born in 1899. So we can fully understand how pleasing it must have been for Mrs. Vyvyan to be able to claim to own and have bred three females of such outstanding quality, and all of them sired by her own home-bred 'Tiam O'Shian III'. None-the-less, Mrs. Vyvyan could not justify keeping another daughter and 'Ah Choo' found her way into the hands of Mrs. Robinson, the owner of 'Ch. Wankee' and no doubt great things were expected from her in such experienced hands, and with 'Ch. Wankee' as a potential mate.
Puppy, Seal Point Tiam O'Shian III, Seal Point | Susa, Seal Point Ah Choo, May-3-1900, Seal Point, F | Tiam O'Shian III, Seal Point Polyphema, Seal Point Priscilla, Seal Point
Like her older sister 'Eve', 'Ah Choo' is in excellent and famous company with her full siblings, which included 'Champion Eve', 'Tiam O'Shian IV', 'Vishudda' and 'Suzanne'. She was the product of one of Polyphema's last litters, which included her litter sibling, 'Suzanne', and while 'Ah Choo' was destined for Mrs. Robinson, 'Suzanne' was retained by Mrs. Vyvyan. Although we have no images of 'Suzanne', we do have the following commentary by Mrs. Carew-Cox:
"In awarding prizes in the Siamese classes at the Cat Club Show at Westminster in 1901, I found 'Suzanne' quite the best cat present, and upon referring subsequently to a catalogue was not surprised to find that Mrs. Vyvyan was her owner."1
Her oldest full sibling was 'Eve', born in February 1899. 'Eve' had a most distinguished career, being both an award winning Siamese female and a successful brood queen, who, of all the daughters of 'Polyphema' was the one to leave a lasting legacy for the furtherance of the breed. 'Eve' became the property of Mrs. Backhouse, and when mated to 'Champion Wankee' produced the following well-known Siamese of record. These were 'Boojum', (a male), 'Bandoola, (a female), 'Sin Jin', (a female), and 'The Bogie Man' (a desexed male). The latter being born 7th April, 1900.5
'BOOJUM', was retained by Mrs. Backhouse, and was the sire of 'Boojum II' out of 'Ranee' who was in turn was the sire of 'Prince Vudighi'.(out of his litter sister 'Bandoola'
'Prince Vudighi' , and hence, 'Boojum', 'Boojum II' 'Bandoola', 'Wankee' and 'Eve' may all be found on the pedigrees of many of today's Siamese, a great many coming down from the sons and grandsons of 'Prince Vudighi', through cats such as 'Litabois' and 'Bigabois' to name just a few.
In a subsequent litter from 'Polyphema' born 15th May 1899, were two males; one of them being the famous 'Tiam O'Shian IV', who very quickly became the most popular Siamese male in the country beside 'Ch. Wankee.'. The second male from this litter was 'Vishuddha'. 'Tiam O'Shian' was retained at stud by Lady Vvvyan, while 'Vishuddha' was held by her sister, Mrs. Forestier Walker. 'Vishuddha' was shown, gaining a First and Challenge, at the Botanic Gardens Show of 1900.5
'Tiam O'Shian', of course, was widely used, but sad to say, despite this, few if any, of his own lines have survived to this day, but the combination that produced him, lives on in the progeny from his older sibling, 'Eve', who as the dam of 'Bandoola', is the forebear behind 'Prince Vudighi' and thence to 'Litabois', who may consequently be found behind most Siamese of today.
Of Dam half-siblings, there is only the litter from 'Polyphema' and 'Ch.Wankee' born on 8th February, 1901, which included the three males 'Tamagno', 'De Reszke' and 'Van Dyke' (Van Dyck), as well as the female 'Nada'. However, none of these left any registered progeny.5
'Ah Choo', who was a most appealing looking Siamese, had distinguished wins at Manchester in 1901, followed by Firsts at the Botanic and Crystal Palace Shows of 1902. Her photo, by Landor, is a delightful and revealing study, giving us an insight into what appears to be her friendly, almost 'impish', inquisitive personality. It also shows us the beautiful contrast between her light body colour and her dark, well defined points; a genetic trait, which has no doubt been passed down through the generations, through her sister 'Eve'.
Mrs. Forestier Walker, then reveals another interesting piece of history:
"Mrs. Robinson's 'Ah Choo' was chosen as a model for the medal of the Siamese Club".1
So now we know that this wee lady impressed enough fanciers and members of the newly formed Siamese Cat Club, to be selected as the most suitable model for the Club's first medallion, which is shown below.
There are no records of any surviving progeny from 'Ah Choo'.
None currently available.
In Summary - No doubt, the fact that we can find no progeny from 'Ah Choo' and 'Ch. Wankee' must have been huge disappointment for Mrs. Robinson, who was later to lose her beloved 'Ch. Wankee' in 1903. We can only speculate on what such progeny would have looked like, coming from the only Champion Siamese male in the country, crossed with the glamour girl from most consistently fine line of Siamese females produced to date! But we must also be thankful to see 'Ah Choo' and to 'Eve' and to know that this same combination was successfully completed when 'Eve' was bred to 'Ch. Wankee' and produced both 'Boodum' and 'Banjoola', and that 'Banjoola' went on to deliver 'Ch. Prince Vudighi', who in time became one of the pillars of the breed.
Registers associated with this article include The Incorporated Cat Fanciers Association of Great Britain (TICFAGB), National Cat Club (NCC), The Cat Club (CCR), Beresford Cat Club (BCC), Feline Federation Francaise (FFF), Siamese Cat Registry (SCR), US Register & Studbook for Cats (USR)including Supplement(USRS), The Studbook of the American Cat Association (ACA), and the Studbook & Register of the Cat Fanciers' Association (CFA).
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