DON PEDRO OF THORPE (1901)
PHOTOS | SOCIAL MEDIA | REFERENCES
Silver Tabbies have always been perennial favourites, in both the long-haired and short-haired varieties. The difficulty for the long-hairs has been in their ability to display a clear pattern, over and through their profuse coat length. In both cases, good examples are striking in their appearance, the extreme contrast of dark markings against a clear ground colour, always attracting instantaneous attention.
Probably the earliest Silver Tabby longhair of note, was 'Ch. Topso of Dingley', born in 1886. This cat was duly dubbed by American cat fancier and author Helen M. Winslow as "the Best Long-haired Silver Tabby in England". In her book Concerning Cats, published in 1900, she alludes to evidence of his early success on the show bench:
"Topso, a magnificent silver tabby male, belonging to Miss Anderson Leake, of Dingley Hill, was at one time the best long-haired silver tabby in England, and took the prize on that account in 1887; his sons, daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters, have all taken prizes at Crystal Palace in the silver tabby classes, since that time."3
From 'Topso's' son, 'Ch. Felix'(b 1890) was descended both the Silver Tabby males, 'Felix Mottisfont' and 'Abdul Zaphir of Dingley'(b 1891), the latter of which became the sire of 'Abdul Hamet of Dingley' (b 1898), in turn the highly sought-after sire of many well-known Silver Tabbies, among them being 'Ch. Don Pedro of Thorpe' and 'Roiall Fluffball'.
In his turn, 'Ch. Don Pedro of Thorpe' became the standard-bearer for the Longhair Silver Tabby variety. At that time, his confirmation and body pattern were considered as close to the ideal as had ever been seen to date, so very naturally it was against this accepted ideal, that succeeding generations of this colour variety were duly measured.
Over a number of years, his portrait and full body image appeared in fashionable society magazines and in the daily papers that covered the show results from the Crystal Palace and other major feline exhibitions. Similarly, he was featured at least twice on the cover page of "Our Cats", held out as an exceptional example of a well-patterned tabby long-hair - one to be emulated.
His fame was, as it happens, destined to last. His image was still appearing on postcards through the early war years and as late as 1925, his full body image appeared in the Cowan's "Noted Cats" Series of collectors cards, based in the main on many of the cats that had featured in Frances Simpson's later editions of Cats for Pleasure and Profit from (1909) and (1920) respectively, revised from the first edition under the name Our Cats and All About Them (1902). Too young to appear in the earlier book, 'Don Pedro' was duly included in the revised editions, published in 1909 and again in 1920.
Despite the fact that in subsequent years, other Silver Tabbies arose which were equally if not more clearly marked than he, and with improved head type, one such being his beautiful grandson 'Garry My Lad' (b 1912), of all the Silver Tabby longhairs from the early era of cat fancying, his name still rises above all others as the most memorable.
Abdul Zaphir of Dingley, Silver Tabby Abdul Hamet of Dingley, Silver Tabby | Mimidatzi, Silver Tabby Don Pedro of Thorpe, Apr-7-1901, Silver Tabby, M | Thames Valley Silver King, Silver Tabby Roiall Dewdrop, Silver Tabby Roiall Silver Tangle, Silver Tabby
'Don Pedro' was born on 7th April, 1901. He was bred by Miss E.M. Cope, of 136 Bristol Rd, Birmingham, who appears to have adopted the cattery name 'Roiall' not long after the turn of the 20th century. Miss Cope was a young but well-known fancier who bred Silver Tabbies, Brown Tabbies and Blue Persians, but it is more for her Silver Tabbies that she is particularly well known. She was also the capable Secretary of the Midlands Counties Cat Club. In the CCR (The Cat Club Register) many of her cats appear without a prefix, but in show reports and in captions to photos, most notably from the books by Miss Frances Simpson and Mr. C.A. House, they are duly designated with the 'Roiall' cattery name.
And therein lies another mystery, for in the CCR, 'Don Pedro' is recorded under the name of 'Edgbaston Don Pedro'4, with the correct date of birth, sire and dam. This would signify that originally he was intended to be owned by a Mrs. McMichael, a breeder resident in nearby Edgbaston, Birmingham, who was already the owner of a Blue female named 'Edgbaston Pearl'. But although registered with this name, 'Don Pedro' is clearly listed as bred and owned by Miss Cope, and as he duly became the property of Mrs. Slingsby, located in Ouseburn, York, the originally intended sale obviously did not proceed.
Mrs. Slingsby was an astute breeder with an eye for a cat. She had already established a wide reputation for her Blues, but was also a lover of Silver Tabbies and patiently sought to establish a strain of her own. The two leading breeders of Silver Tabbies at this time were Mrs. Anderson Leake, of Dingley Hall, Reading (with a long history within the variety dating from the late 1880's) and a relative new-comer, Miss Cope, of Birmingham, who in a relatively short space of time, had developed a reputation for success within the variety. Mrs. Slingsby would have no doubt followed the proven success of the 'Dingley' strain, and was very probably one of the many admirers of Mrs. Leake's stud cats, which at this time included the ever popular 'Ch. Abdul Hamet of Dingley'. When Miss Cope bred her queen 'Roiall Dewdrop' (a daughter of the winning 'Roiall Silver Tangle) to 'Abdul Hamet of Dingley', Mrs. Slingsby would have been among the first in line to follow the results of the breeding.
This particular breeding combined both their lines, including as it did, an outcross provided by Miss Derby Hyde's 'Thames Valley Silver King' with a line-breed based on the descendants of Mrs. Leake's original 'Ch. Topso of Dingley', through the progeny of his pre-eminent son 'Ch. Felix'. On one side, descended directly through the male line, to a 'Felix' son named 'Ch. Abdul Zaphir of Dingley', who in turn was the sire of 'Abdul Hamet of Dingley'; while on the female line, through Miss Copes 'Roiall Silver Tangle', descended from another son of 'Felix', named 'Felix Mottisfont'.
It is unclear as to exactly when Mrs. Slingsby took possession of 'Don Pedro', but it is very likely that when he made his first public appearance at the Kitten Show in 1901, that he may have been duly claimed at the catalogue price by Mrs. Slingsby, prior to taking out Best Long-hair Kitten in Show! But by whatever process he changed hands, upon being taken up by Mrs. Slingsby, his name was duly amended by the dropping of the 'Edgbaston' prefix and the addition of Mrs. Slingsby's affix, to permanently become 'Don Pedro of Thorpe'.
ROIALL STARLET, also known as 'STARLET', Silver Tabby female, born 7th April, 1901
A full litter sister to 'Don Pedro', 'Starlet' was retained by Miss Cope for breeding and showing. Mr. C.W. Witt, on a visit to the 'Roiall' cattery in 1903, comments on the shortcomings of her dam 'Roiall Dewdrop' whom he claimed - "carries immense coat, lovely clear colour, but to me fails somewhat in head." But then goes on to add - "but is better known perhaps as the mother of the sensational kittens of 1901, Don Pedro and Starlet, by Abdul Hamet".4
As far as can be ascertained, there are no other recorded offspring from this breeding, nor any subsequent offspring from 'Starlet'.
Notable SIRE SIBLINGS include:
THE MARQUIS OF DINGLEY, Silver Tabby male, born 21st March, 1901
This lovely Silver Tabby male was out of one of Miss Leake's older silver tabby females, 'Miss Fluffie of Dingley', born in April 1894. As a daughter of 'Ch. Felix', she brought back a close breeding of Miss Leake's original great silver tabby, 'Ch. Topso of Dingley' as a close line-breed into any male bred down from that line. 'Marquis of Dingley' was the product of just such a breeding. That she considered it a great success, can be seen from the fact that not only was 'The Marquis' a top show winner, but he was retained by her and placed at stud.
A stud advertisement for the DINGLEY HALL cattery that appears in Charles House's book Cats: Show and Pet (1903) records 'The Marquis' many successes on the show bench, which included Firsts at Westminster in 1902, and 1903; also two gold medals, challenge and breeders cups, the Countess of Aberdeen trophy, and S.C.R. trophy and medal; as well as a 2nd and 3rd and four Specials at Slough.5
In Fur and Feather he was summarily described as: "A magnificent young Cat, superb coat and markings, lovely ground colour, rare head and face, good, bold hazel eyes."5
In the advertisement he takes pride of place, immediately below his illustrious sire, 'Abdul Hamet of Dingley'.
MISS HAMET, Silver Tabby female, born 13th April, 1901
Other than this lovely photo of 'Miss Hamet' we know little other than she was the product of a mating with an outside queen. To date, we have found no evidence of any progeny being registered from 'Miss Hamet'.
ROIALL FLUFFBALL, Silver Tabby female, born 12th July 1901
Described by Mr. C.W. Witt in June 1903 as 'absolutely the best silver tabby queen living', 'Fluffball' was in fact a three-fourths sister to Don Pedro, being from the same sire and her dam being his grand-dam. In this combination, which was another line-bred, there was no outcross to 'Thames Valley Silver King'. Like 'Don Pedro', 'Fluffball' was shown for spectacular wins as a kitten, taking first at Westminster in 1902, then in 1903, taking first at both Westminster and Bath.
ROIALL SILVER BUTTERFLY, Silver Tabby femlae, born 12th July 1901
As a litter sister to Roiall Fluffball, 'Silver Butterfly' was a wise investment by Mrs. Slingsby, as a future mate for 'Don Pedro". Upon this purchase, she became 'Silver Butterfly of Thorpe', was bred to 'Don Pedro' and produced the silver tabby male, 'Don Roderick of Thorpe'.
ARLINGTON DINGLEY BAR ABDUL, Silver Tabby male, born 3rd August, 1901
Won a Third at Westminster in 1902, before export, and a Second at Clevedon, in the United States in December of the same year.8
ARLINGTON DINGLEY BELLE, Silver Tabby female, born 3rd August, 1901
Litter sister to 'Dingley Bar Abdul'. Shown at Detroit winning First and Specials in 1901.8
THE DINGLEY OWLET, Silver Tabby female, born 25th February, 1903
Two factors muddy the waters of the siblings, 'Dingley Owlet' and her litter brother 'Dingley Fashion'. Both are sired by 'Abdul Hamet'' and out of 'Miss Fluffie of Dingley'. The first is in regard to their respective dates of birth. While 'The Dingley Owlet' is recorded as born 25th February, 1903, 'Dingley Fashion' has for his birth-date, 5th March, 1903. 'Miss Fluffie' was already approaching 9 years of age at the time of their birth and of course it was not possible for 'Miss Fluffie' to give birth 8 days apart, so one of the dates is in error. In this instance, we have decided to accept the earlier date as the correct one.
The second point is that in the ACA Register, Volume One, 'The Dingley Owlet' is registered as a Shaded Silver, while in most data-bases, she is listed as a Silver Tabby. Both parents are registered as Silver Tabbies, but 'Miss Fluffie' had on previous occasions, produced Silvers (Chinchilla's and Shaded Silvers) when outcrossed to predominantly unmarked silver Lines. Both parents contained marked and unmarked silver heritage. Given that both her photos show a much lighter cat, with a general absence of bars except on the forelegs, we have erred on the side of Shaded Silver. There is no evidence of any progeny being recorded from 'The Dingley Owlet'.
DINGLEY FASHION, Silver Tabby male, born 25th February, 1903
A litter brother to 'The Dingley Owlet' and, on paper, a full younger brother to 'The Marquis of Dingley', who had subsequently been sold. Maintained at stud, his services were duly advertised in a number of 1904 editions of Our Cats, along with the NCC registrations of subsequent progeny. By the time this image was published, he had attended only his first two shows, gaining two first prizes at the Crystal Palace, and a second at Birmingham. This image by J. Russell was likely taken at the Crystal Palace Show in late 1903.
DUNSDEN ABDUL, Silver Tabby male, born circa 1903
This handsome male gained two seconds at the Sandy Show of 1904, and three seconds at the Crystal Palace, 1904. His seconds at Sandy were gained directly behind 'Don Pedro of Thorpe', who was Best of Variety and ultimately Best Long-hair Cat in Show, opposite Mrs. Collingwood's 'Miss Toodles', another Silver Tabby who was Best Short-haired Cat in Show. 'Dunsden Abdul' duly went on to become a Champion in his own right.
Don Pedro's Show Wins:
'Don Pedro's' first appearance in public was as a kitten, while still owned by Miss Cope. At the Kitten Show of 1901, he took the Special for the Best Long-hair in Show. At the Palace Show of the same year, 'Don Pedro' won first in single tabby kitten (18 entries), first in limit class (23 entries), among such well-known prize cats as 'Matthew of the Durhams', 'Teufel', 'Piquante Pearl', etc., and was second only to 'Ch. Zaida' in the challenge class, beating the two Romaldkirk champions and 'King Alfred'.6
His wins were also be proudly listed in his 1903 stud listing as follows:
As an adult, 'Don Pedro' won many times, the following being a short description of his successes from the pen of Frances Simpson:
This particular show, held on 17th November, 1904 was, in fact, the inaugural Sheffield Championship Show. A brief report published in the 17th December, 1904 issue of Our Cats further confirms:
"Sheffield Championship Show on November 17th, was a wonderful success for a first venture. Miss Simpson and Mr. T.B Mason judged the Open, and Mrs. Tom Fletcher the local classes. Old winners scored in most of the classes. Ch. Zaida won as best long-hair, and Ch. Miss Toodles as best cat in the show."10
The sire of many lovely kittens, 'Don Pedro' became a valued and sought after stud, being bred over a number of Mrs. Slingby's females, including his three-quarter sister, 'Silver Butterfly of Thorpe' and a number of related queens from Mrs. Copes 'Roiall' cattery. One of his earliest successes as a sire was Mrs. Slingsby's silver tabby male kitten, 'Don Roderick of Thorpe' shown below, who was a successful exhibit at the Northern Counties Cat Club Show.
In the one hundred and twenty-six years that have elapsed since the appearance on the show bench of 'Ch. Topso of Dingley', no other Silver Tabby long-hair cat can claim the type of notoriety that has been enjoyed by 'Champion Don Pedro of Thorpe'. He was indeed a worthy great-great-grandson of his famous progenitor.
But he also was sadly, an early herald of an almost dying color variety. For many decades, the silver tabby class simply languished, not following in the advances of type, made by other Persian colour varieties. But those days are now well and truly over and the Silver Tabby Persian has made an amazing comeback. Over the last 25 years, through careful selective breeding and hard work, the Silver Tabby has recovered lost ground and there are truly some magnificent specimens, although not numerous, of quality equal to any. Cats such as 'GC NW Pajean's Trinket Love', CFA's Best Cat 1993-1994, and GC DW Baloghshof Tin Soldier, CFA's 8th Best Cat (International Division) 2000-2001, are demonstrative of both what can be achieved, and a glimpse of what the future may hold for these stunningly beautiful cats of 'sheer class'.
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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