Samuel C. Perkins Scrapbook, 1880-1897

ArtifactSamuel C. Perkins Scrapbook
Cosey, Patrick Blue, Blue Boy, Jimmy, Xenophon
CollectionThe CFA Foundation
DescriptionA scrapbook of newspaper articles related to cats
Brief HistorySamuel Perkins collected newspaper articles from various sources and compiled them in a scrapbook, providing a unique cat fancy history.
AcquisitionLocated by Karen Lawrence, purchased by Peace Bridge Aby Fanciers for the CFA Foundation, 1999.

The leather cover of the Samuel C. Perkins scrapbook.
Photo: Courtesy of The CFA Foundation

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".

1894 - A photo of "Sam" the pet cat at the office of the Commissioners of Public Buildings, and monkey.
Photo courtesy of The CFA Foundation

Samuel C. Perkins
Photo courtesy of The CFA Foundation

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!

"Samuel C. Perkins was fond of cats. When he was not attending to his large law practice or his duties as President of the Commission for the Erection of the Public Buildings of Philadelphia, Mr. Perkins was likely to be found at home, pasting up clippings about his new City Hall in leather-bound scrapbooks, while a feline pet or two arched against his legs, or nestled happily in his lap. "

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:

"That is why today one can walk into Philadelphia's City Hall from the south and see Mr. Perkins' cats—eight of them—carved out of stone around the walls of a chamber which bears above its doorway the single word 'JUSTICE'."

One of Samuel Perkin's cats in the Hall of Justice, Philadelphia City Hall
Photo by Karen Lawrence

The Scrapbook

Articles in the Perkins' scrapbook cover a myriad of topics concerning the life of cats in the Philadelphia area and beyond, such as:

"The Cute Coon-Kitten", an illustration published in in The Press, November 19, 1895
Photo Larry Johnson, courtesy of The CFA Foundation

  • A January 27th, 1888 article from The Evening Telegraph tells about Japanese cats and their lack of, or fore-shorthened, tails.

  • A July 13th, 1889 story, published in The Presbyterian about a "Pussy in the Witness Box", in which a Maltese cat was 'called to testify' regarding the ownership of a Great Dane.

  • An April 8th, 1892 article in The Press reports in "Thousands for Her Pets" that Miss Susan Gorgas "leaves large sums in trust for the comfort of her horse and cat." Miss Gorgas left a total of $12,000 for care of her aged horse, Charlie, and $2,000 for care of her cat, Bobby (who, unfortunately, died before the will cleared probate).

  • A December 26, 1895 article, "Red Tabby Cats in London, described by a Milwaukee Woman Who Saw Them" published in The Times reports about a visitor to a cat show held at the Crystal Palace in England, where "seven hundred cats were shown". This article offers insight into the cat fancy world, mentioning that "Blue-eyed white coated cats are getting to be highly valued in England now, and one of those bore off the other day a substantial money prize that was offered by Louis Wain, the great cat artist" and also noting "Another prize of the show was a brown tabby tom, Champion Xenophon, which its owner values at $5,000."

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.

A page from the Perkins' scrapbook, with illustrations and a story about entries at the second Madison Square Garden show, held May 3rd, 1896.
Photo Larry Johnson, courtesy of the CFA Foundation.

A May 3, 1896 article about the second Madison Square Garden show, complete with illustrations of entries.
Photo Larry Johnson, courtesy of the CFA Foundation.

A January 10th, 1897 article from the New York Times, about "Cats That Are Worth Fortunes"
Photo Larry Johnson, courtesy of the CFA Foundation.

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.


  1. Historical Society of Philadelphia,
  2. "The Cats on City Hall" by Roger Butterfield, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 1953

Home | Cats | Gallery | Clubs | People | Artifacts | Articles | Updates | Contact Us

©The CFA Foundation, Inc and The Harrison Weir Collection
This project is a collaboration between The CFA Foundation, Inc. and The Harrison Weir Collection.
All material on this site is copyrighted and may not be printed or reproduced, in any form, without the express written consent of the collaborators.