Samuel C. Perkins Scrapbook, 1880-1897
It's extremely difficult to locate original copies of early newspaper articles that detail the goings-on in society related to cats, especially ones from the late 19th century. That's what makes the Samuel C. Perkins scrapbook such an exciting part of The CFA Foundation's collection.
In 1999, Karen Lawrence attended the Cat Nation Fanciers cat show in Erie, PA and during a break in judging perused through the vendor booths. Always interested in old books, Karen was particularly drawn to a bookseller's booth, and thrilled to find an old scrapbook on sale. Upon opening it, and flipping a few pages, she knew that it was a "must have" for The CFA Foundation. A discussion with the vendor indicated that he either sold the scrapbook whole that weekend, or he intended to pull it apart and sell it page by page on eBay. Karen knew that selling it piecemeal couldn't be allowed to happen and, after a brief discussion with members of Peace Bridge Aby Fanciers about the possible importance of the scrapbook's content, the scrapbook was purchased on the spot and sent immediately to the Foundation.
It was months later before Karen got to the New Jersey office of CFA, which was holding the Foundation's collection at the time. Impatient to take an extensive look at each and every page of the scrapbook, it had been an excruciating six month wait. Once opened and explored, it was discovered that each and every page of the scrapbook contained article after article about cats and their activities, of all sorts, during the period between 1880 and 1897. In addition, each and every article also had the source newspaper and date handwritten written on it!
It took a while to determine just who had compiled such an interesting history, but several clues were found throughout the book, including a photo of the pet cat, appropriately named "Sam", plus letters addressed to "Mr. Perkins".
A quick search took us to the City of Philadelphia where Samuel C. Perkins (1828-1903) was a noted lawyer and Masonic Lodge Grand Master. He served as President of the Commissioners for the Erection of Public Buildings from 1871 to 1891. A great deal was learned about Mr. Perkins from the Philadelphia Historical Society, including that he was responsible for planning and building of the Philadelphia City Hall. It was also noted that the Historical Society owns thirty-one scrapboooks, compiled by Mr. Perkins, confirming that he was indeed an avid scrapbooker. In a short biographical piece, "The Cats on City Hall" by Roger Butterfield, published in The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, we found what we were looking for - Samuel Perkins was a known cat lover!
Additonal authenication of Mr. Perkins' love of his cats can be found in the Hall of Justice in the Philadelphia City Hall, where a permanent reminder of Mr. Perkins' cats remains, carved into the granite frieze of the walls. Butterfield writes:
Articles in the Perkins' scrapbook cover a myriad of topics concerning the life of cats in the Philadelphia area and beyond, such as:
Fascinating, to cat fancy historians, are the articles on various cat shows held both in England and the United States, with detailed reports that, in some instances, mention cats that are, today, well-known in the history of the cat fancy; cats such as Xenophon, Cosey, Svengali, Nicodemus, Champion Jimmy, Patrick Blue, and Blue Boy. Illustrations throughout the scrapbook include "the Cute Coon-Kitten"(1895), Svengali (1896), Champion Jimmy (1897), Blue Boy (1897) and Patrick Blue(1897) among others.
As the scrapbook itself is in fragile condition, we extend our sincere thanks to Larry Johnson, for his incredible patience in photographing each page of the scrapbook, so that its contents are preserved and allowing the content of its pages to be devoured without further damage to this very valuable artifact.
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