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Sourcing original and factual material on any of the fore-runner lines of the Abyssinian breed is difficult at best, and for those that seek it, a true labour of love. It is true that if it had not been for the herculean and self-effacing efforts of one breeder in particular, Mrs. Constance Carew-Cox, the rise of the Abyssinian as a much-loved and respected variety of the modern day cat world may have been delayed by several decades.
This fact is endorsed by none other than Mr. H.C. Brooke, a founding Vice-President of the Abyssinian Cat Club, who credits Mrs. Carew-Cox for almost single-handedly being responsible for the survival of the Abyssinian breed through its many and varying trials and tribulations.
"Had not Mrs. Carew-Cox about this time devoted herself to the breed I very much fear it would, ere now, have become extinct. Neglected - Heaven knows why - by the Fancy at large in an inconceivable manner, this beautiful and interesting breed certainly owes its existence to-day mainly to the devoted care and affection bestowed upon it by Mrs. Carew-Cox, who for a quarter-of-a-century has fostered it in the face of discouragements which I verily believe would have "choked off" any other person in the Fancy.
"Not for her the "big business" in stud fees, the "queued-up" queens, the cups and specials galore, which fall to the lot of many Long-hair breeders; no, in the face of rotten judging, lack of recognition, poor prizes, lack of market, and a heart-breaking mortality in kittens, this plucky lady has carried the Abyssinian flag triumphantly through. She cannot (or modestly will not?) tell me how many champions she has bred since some thirty odd years ago she fell in love with the first specimen she saw at an hotel at Winscombe, Somerset, where they were said to have been left by one who had been a traveller in "furrin parts".
"Incidentally, I may mention that a good many years back Mrs. Carew-Cox published a couple of letters from a gentleman who had been shooting in Abyssinia, and who stated that he had there shot a pair of wild cats, whose skins he brought to England, and which seemed from the description to correspond in every way with our present-day exhibition specimens."21 What an amazing tribute to Constance Carew Cox from a man who was himself, so highly respected in the world of cats!
'Ankaret' was born 10th May, 1929, bred by the incomparable Mrs. Constance Carew-Cox. Her sire was Mrs. Cox's 'Ras Djibute' (aka 'Ras Djibuti) born in 1916, bred by Mrs. E. A. Clark. 'Djibute' was a son of the famous 'Ras Dashan', (NCC:7627) born in 1908, who was a son of 'Aluminium'(NCC:4463), born in 1905. The dam of 'Ankaret' was Mrs. Cox's 'Melody', whose sire is given as 'Puzzle' and whose dam was 'Tootsie',(GCCF:15792) who was also by 'Ras Djibute', out of 'Pippin'. This means that 'Ankaret was line-bred on her sire 'Ras Djibute', who was also her maternal Great-Grandsire.
Ras Dashan Ras Djibute | Queen of Sheba Ankaret, May-10-1929, ruddy Abyssinian, F | Puzzle Melody Tootsie
As well as being found in GCCF Stud-book volume 45, 'Ankaret' appears in the Register of the Abyssinian Cat Club and her registration is published in Fur and Feather, on 13th September, 192911. Her ownership by Miss Nancy Richardson is confirmed in the Abyssinian Cat Club records and reaffirmed in the story accompanying her published photograph in March, 1930. Her owner, Miss Nancy Richardson, was a well-recognised Abyssinian breeder and fancier active in Great Britain, in the years between the two World Wars.
'Ankaret' is related to nearly all of the top Abyssinian bloodstock of the period, her grandsire 'Ras Dashan' was an early standard-bearer for the breed and appears in numerous publications, both British and French as a prime example of the Abyssinian breed. Both he and his half-brother 'Ouizero Taitou' were sons of the foundation male 'Aluminium'. The sire of 'Ankaret' was 'Ras Djibute' (GCCF:545) who was a full older brother to 'Southampton Red Rust',(GCCF:549) both males being sired by 'Ras Dashan' and out of Mrs. Clark's 'Queen of Sheba', but born 4 years apart. 'Ras Djibute' was born in 1916, and 'Southampton Red Rust' in 1920. The latter was first owned by Dr. Noel Alder, but was later owned and exhibited by Sir Claud Alexander, founder of the British Cat Club in 1901 and staunch supporter of the original National Cat Club.
In addition, litter siblings to 'Ras Djibute' included the ruddy females 'Abouna',(ACC)2 and 'Zoena' (ACC)2, and full litter siblings to 'Southampton Red Rust', included the ruddy males 'Ras Menelik', (GCCFv2)15, and 'Ras Michael' (ACC)2, as well as the ruddy female 'Zara El Khala' (GCCFv2)15.
There is one full litter-sibling to 'Ankaret', a female named 'NORTHWOOD'S TATTY', who appears to have been sold by Mrs. Cox, originally to Mrs. R Cates (SB58, FF 13/09/192911), but who, in 1935 is shown as the property of Mrs. Allen Maturin. (FF:14/06/193512) And then in GCCF Stud book 69, under the ownership of Major Woodiwiss. 'Tatty' appears to also be her only dam-sibling.
As Mrs. Cox's 'Ras Djibute' was a relatively popular stud male, there are considerably more sire siblings, but most notable among these is 'RAS TAFARI', (1050:GCCFv3)4 a ruddy Abyssinian male born 17th July, 1924; who was initially owned by Mr. H.C. Brooke, but who later appears to have been returned to Mrs. Cox before finally being exported to Switzerland.
Other sire-siblings include:
'ALUNA', ruddy female born 27th March, 1926 out of 'Empress Zanditu', bred by Constance Carew-Cox and owned originally by Captain Price Gordon.(SB45:FF 22/11/192910) She is listed later as owned by Madame Guyot(ACC)2. It should be noted that the dam of 'Aluna', 'Empress Zanditu', was a full litter sister of 'Ras Tafari'.
'KING ABY', 'RAS ISIS', and 'ZEILA OF DRUMBLAIR', all ruddy's, born 29th April, 1926, out of Mrs. E. Buffard's queen 'Symy'. 'King Aby'(ACC)2 was a neutered male, sold to Miss L. Norrie Croydon.'Ras Isis' (GCCFv4)5, went to Mrs. Constance Carew Cox, (possibly in lieu of stud fee), and 'Zeila of Drumblair' (GCCFv4)5 was sold to Miss G. Morant.
This same breeding was repeated two years later, producing two more ruddy females born a year before 'Ankaret' on 20th March,1928. These were respectively 'BEAUTY BLOOM', (FF: 13/07/1928)7 and 'CONSTANT BEAUTIFUL' (FF: 13/07/1928)7. 'Beauty' appears to have been sold to Miss G. Morant, giving her two females of the same breeding, while Mrs. Buffard chose to retain 'Constant Beautiful' for her own breeding program.
It should be noted Mrs. Buffard chose to breed this female 'Constant Beautiful' back to her sire, to produce another sire-sibling, a ruddy female named 'ZENNEBE' (FF:25/12/1931)6 who we find became the property of Miss Nancy Richardson, the owner of 'Ankaret'.
Last but not least, is the sire-sibling 'TOOTSIE', (GCCFv4)5 a ruddy female born in April 1927, out of 'Pippin'. 'Tootsie' was retained by Mrs. Carew-Cox and bred to a male named 'Puzzle', in order to produce 'Melody', the dam of 'Ankaret'. A subsequent grand-father to grand-daughter breeding between 'Melody' and 'Ras Djibute' then produced 'Ankaret' in 1929, making 'Tootsie' both her grand-dam and sire-sibling.
The breeding of 'Ankaret' to two different stud males clarifies some things, while creating questions about others. Her first recorded breeding appears to have been to a male named 'Anton'. This male appears in Studbook 45, (1522) registered as a Foreign Blue, breed number 16A, yet in Studbook 58, he appears under 16, for British Blue, and in Studbook 716 he is registered under Russian Blue!
There appears to be speculation among some feline historians, that he may have been in fact a blue Abyssinian (with no number to be registered under), but we do know that he was in all cases, his parentage is listed as 'unknown' and his registered ownership under the name of Nancy Richardson. So he was either a Blue Abyssinian, OR, Nancy may have indeed have been trying to introduce the colour blue by doing an experimental breeding.
From this mating, 'Ankaret' on 21st May 1931, produced a ruddy female Abyssinian who was named 'BUFY'(FF: 26/05/1933)17, aka 'RABY BUFY'.
In subsequent breedings 'Ankaret' appears to have been bred to 'Pharoah', (ACC)2 a known ruddy Abyssinian male born in 1930, bred by Sir William Cooke and owned by Nancy Richardson, (FF:20/11/1931)18. His sire was 'Pheron' and his dam 'Adulis'. This breeding, Miss Richardson seems to have repeated. In her first registered litter to 'Pharoah', 'Ankaret' produced the ruddy Abyssinian male, 'TEJ' (GCCFv7)16 who was born 26th May, 1932. 'Tej' was ultimately bred to his half-sister 'Bufi' to produce the male 'Patzenhofer' (ACC)2 in March 1935. This double grandson of 'Ankaret' was bred by Nancy Richardson and owned firstly by Mrs. Allen-Maturin (FF:12/11/1937)18, but later appears under the ownership of Mrs. Kelsall Van, under a different spelling, as 'Putzenhofer' (ACC)2.
'Tej' also sired a litter born 14th May, 1935 from a queen named 'Puma', from which came two ruddy Abyssinian males, named respectively 'Alagi' and 'Azzi'.(ACC)2. These grandsons of 'Ankaret' were bred by Miss A Kent, with Mrs. Van becoming the owner of 'Azzi'.
In her second recorded litter to 'Pharaoh', 'Ankaret' produced a ruddy female named 'HAPI MUTI', born 13th April, 1935 who also became the property of Mrs. Kelsall Van, (FF:14/10/1938)19.
This photo of 'Ankaret' is the only one known to exist. It was taken by a Press Photographer working for the Graphic Photo Union, on 12th March, 1930, when 'Ankaret' was just 10 months old, and being exhibited for the first time at Miss H. K. Wakeford's flat in Brooke Street, Holborn. The caption to the photo reads: 'A fine study of Miss Richardson's 'Ankaret', which was shown for the first time'. It is a particularly clear photo, showing great intensity of eye and a well-defined ticked coat.
None Currently available.
The charm of the Abyssinian cat is captured in this photograph of 'Ankaret' and this is one of the clearest photos of any Abyssinian cat bred by Mrs. Constance Carew-Cox. As an Abyssinian line-bred on 'Ras Djibute', it gives us an incredible insight into some of the possible strengths and weaknesses of this particular male's bloodline and genetic make-up; as well as to the potential from full siblings, such as the males 'Southampton Red Rust', 'Ras Menelik, and 'Ras Michael'.
We must remind ourselves of how limited the gene pool still was, even at this late stage in the period between the two world wars and how, if it had not been for these ardent fanciers who stood behind their unique breed during this difficult time, how drastically the breed would have suffered under such dire political and social circumstances.
The breed today now ranks among one of the most popular of the short-haired varieties, and is probably our closest living link to the cats of ancient Egypt, Ethiopia, Abyssinia and the West Indian corridor.
In the two delightful photos below, taken by iconic Chicago advertising and fashion photographer and Abyssinian breeder Kenneth H. Heilbron, we are reminded of this breed's playful antics and how lucky we are in this day and time to still be able to enjoy a living link to these wonderful ancient cats of the past.
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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