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Crystal is a most enigmatic cat with an unparalleled public profile for her era. She was also a standard-bearer for pedigreed felines used in advertising. She is one of the most photographed of the early cats, with numerous postcard images extant in collections, and her image variously used to promote a range of products. In an age when copyright, although promoted, was seldom able to be enforced, her images were subsequently scattered across Europe, with uncompromising promiscuity by printers and traders in postcards.
Bred by Mr. . A. Gearn, this blue-eyed beauty was born on April 10th, 1898, (NCC: Regn 3004), sired by a Blue Persian male, Ch. Blue Jacket (Born 1894, NCC: Regn.2009) and out of a White Persian female, Lilywhite. (or Lily White)
CH Blue Ruin I CH Blue Jacket, 1894, Blue, NCC 2009 | Sylvia, 1893, Blue Crystal, April-10-1898, Blue-Eyed White F | White Emperor CH Lily White (or Lilywhite), White Unknown
Crystal was bought by Miss Mary Hunt, when she was exhibited as a kitten at the Crystal Palace Show of that year. From Frances Simpson’s The Book of the Cat we have Miss Hunt’s own description of the purchase, (as at 1903).
"I bought Crystal in 1898, when only four months old and she certainly has been a good investment. Out of the sixteen white kittens she has had, ten of them have been blue-eyed." 1
The NCC studbook under the registration details for Crystal, records her wins at the Crystal Palace in 1898, winning both a 1st and a 3rd.
Miss Hunt goes on to say of Crystal’s winning ways: "Crystal herself has only once been beaten by a white cat,and that had not even blue eyes; but she was in splendid coat, and Crystal was quite out of coat. Most judges are agreed, I think, that ‘Crystal’ is the best blue-eyed white female in the country."1.
Only two sibings are noted. The first is Scotland’s Prince, a Blue-eyed White male, with same birth date,(NCC: Regn.3007) formerly owned by Miss R.A.Packham, and then by Miss Gertrude Willoughby (later Lady Decies). His name subsequently changed to Fulmer Scotland’s Prince upon his change of ownership. His wins recorded in the NCC Stud Book are listed as 2nd Special, Botanic, 1899; 2nd CP 1899; 2nd Brighton, 1899. A second sibling was Snow King, (no date of birth) but shown as the sire of “Aisha” in the CCR Studbook, with his parentage being identical, by Blue Jacket ex Lilywhite, and his owner/breeder listed as Mr. A Gairn. (Possibly a litter brother to Crystal that had been retained by her breeder).
From Mrs. Champion, we hear directly about the siblings ‘Scotland’s Prince’ and ‘Crystal’ in an article reprinted from the 'Cat Review' in the November 14th 1903 issue of Our Cats:
“Another instance of breeding from odd-eyed whites was the two beautiful cats, Scotland’s Prince and Crystal. These two were from the same litter, and bred by Mr. Gavin of Edinburgh, from his odd-eyed white queen, Lily White, mated to the famous yellow-eyed Ch. Blue Jacket."
“Scotland’s Prince took second special at the Botanic in 1899; second at Brighton in 1899 to White Tsar, White Friar’s famous son. Crystal, his sister, was first at the Crystal Palace 1898, and has since won innumerable firsts in Scotland. She was the mother of many famous whites, including Purity, Jovial Monk etc.”2
Crystal was one of a number of queens, who, when coupled with the famous “White Friar” (formerly Tim of Redgrave), literally established a veritable dynasty of Whites. But the beginnings were thwarted with disaster. The “White Friar” lines and especially those from a combination which included ‘Crystal’, were highly sought after.
Miss Hunt further explains: “The very best kitten I owned was never exhibited; he went to Mrs. Champion, who considered him the best and healthiest kitten for his age she had ever seen. Unfortunately he died shortly after she had him. He was by ‘Champion White Friar’ ex ‘Crystal’ and was one of the same litter as ‘Jovial Monk’ which did so much winning for Miss Ward, who purchased him from me at the Crystal Palace, where he took first.”1
Miss Simpson herself enlarges upon the progeny of “White Friar” and remarks about a kitten she had seen from him, and may in fact have been referring to the same kitten described by Miss Hunt. “I remember seeing an absolutely perfect white Persian kitten at Mrs. Champion’s. It was by ‘White Friar’ ex ‘Crystal’. He had startling deep blue eyes, tiny ears, and broad, round head, and at nine weeks old his coat measured nearly three inches across. Alas! Though healthy and strong, this proved to be too perfect a specimen for this world, and ‘Crystal Friar’ succumbed to the epidemic of gastritis then raging among our feline pets.”1
But fortunately, Crystal was an excellent breeder and raised a good number of litters for Miss Hunt. Among them are the following cats:
Crystal appears to be one of the most prominent forerunners of pedigreed cats to be used in promotional advertising, closely followed by the famous Chinchilla ‘Ch.Fulmer Zaida’, and a plethora of Blue and other coloured Persians, and notable Classic Tabby Shorthairs, among the most prominent being ‘Ch. Xenophon’. The examples shown below, demonstrate how just two of her many images, have been transformed and used to promote a product.
This circular image of ‘Crystal’ comes direct from a photo by C.Reid, on page 122 of ‘The Book of the Cat’ by Frances Simpson (1903), but is clearly tilted, and taken from a larger photo which has been used on the Postcard/Business card shown here, advertising ‘The Animals’ Guardian’ magazine. The card is postmarked 1904. (Image courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection).
Similarly, another image of 'Crystal', a photo by C.Reid ,that appears on page 16 of ‘The Book of the Cat’ by Frances Simpson (1903), has been used both on postcards with a dark background, as a close-up photographic study, (as is shown at top right of this page under the Fact File) and reproduced as an artistically enhanced graphic in colour, in a Cadbury’s Cocoa advertisement.
There are too many such instances of Crystal’s images used in this way, to be shown here, but these few examples will suffice to demonstrate their wide usage, and to show that ‘Crystal’ was, without doubt, one of the first modern-day flag-bearers for Pedigree Cats, in the developing new age of mass advertising.
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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