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Similar to the idiom, that 'all roads lead to Rome', in the case of Shorthaired Silver Tabbies, a great many of those of any note, lead back pedigree-wise, to a common ancestor in Mr. T. Sugden's 'King of the Fancy'. 'Champion Jimmy' is no exception, and is in fact, one of his earliest and most successful sons and is likewise a similarly noted sire, of such as the likes of Miss Collingwood's worthy 'Ch. James II', and through him, grandsire to 'Ch. Silver Stripes' and 'Dame Fortune'.
'Ch. Jimmy' was so widely known, that If you had lived in the United Kingdom in the 1890's and been involved in cats, and anyone had mentioned the name of either "Jimmy' or 'Jemmy' as he was also known, then you would have immediately known exactly to whom they were referring. He was in fact, one of the earliest widely famous Shorthaired cats, preceding the immensely successful 'Ch. Xenophon', by two years, claiming numerous Medals and Specials before 'Xenophon' was born!
The big names in shorthaired tabby cat breeding during the 1890's were folk such as M.r Sam Woodiwiss, Mrs. Louisa Herring, Mrs. McLaren Morrison, Mr. Charles H. Lane, Mr.s Bonny and Lady Claud Alexander, to name but a few. These were closely followed in the latter part of that decade and into the next, by Lady Decies, Mrs. Collingwood and Miss Cathcart.
Mrs. Herring, who owned 'Ch. Jimmy', was immersed in matters of the fancy and in cat breeding in general. She kept both cats and dogs, including Persians in Blue, Silver Tabby and Chinchilla, as well as Siamese, Abyssinian, Russian and English Shorthairs. She has been referred to as a 'veteran pioneer of lady cat fanciers', serving on the Committee of The National Cat Club. She can be found in the Committee lists of the Club from the first days of the Register and Studbook, Vol.1, (1893), through to Volume V ,(1899) and beyond. 'Ch. Jimmy' was one of her most noted cats.
'Ch. Jimmy' was born in 1890, being listed in the Register of the National Cat Club as a Shorthair Male, Silver with black markings. He was bred by a Mr. Herbert Young, from Mr. Thomas Sugden's popular Silver Tabby shorthair male 'King of the Fancy' (date of birth unknown) and out of Mr. Herbert Young's 'Tibbie'.
Unknown King of the Fancy | Unknown Jimmy, 1890, Silver Tabby English Shorthair, M | Unknown Tibbie, Silver Tabby Unknown
There are only two 'Tibbies' listed in the Register of the National Cat Club, and the writer has every reason to believe that one later owned by Charles H. Lane (No. 1172) named 'Lady Tibbie' could have been one and the same cat.
In the entry in the studbook for her, she was born in 1885 (easily making it possible for her to be the dam of 'Jimmy', is described as a 'Shorthair Female, Silver with black markings', plus the following notation: "Gained 25 prizes before coming into the owners possession". The owner of record at that time was then Charles Lane. (Vol.1; 1893).3
This possibly is strengthened by a proven relationship between Mr. Herbert Young and Mr. Charles Lane in the arena of Silver Tabby shorthaired cats, which is referred to by Charles Lane, in his own summation of the values and points of 'Ch. Jimmy' and his relatives in his book Rabbits, Cats and Cavies (1903), in which he provides the following factual anecdote with regard to this grand-daughter of 'Tibbie' that he acquired directly from the same Mr. Young. He does however, get confused between his 'Jenny' (sired by 'Ch. Jimmy' and therefore a grand-daughter of 'King of the Fancy') and 'Laurel Queen' (who IS sired by 'King of the Fancy'):
"Miss Moore had a nice female, Jenny, who was put over mine once or twice, I think they were aunt and niece,(Editor: 'Laurel Queen' was the aunt of 'Jenny') but she was nothing like so correct in points, nor did she show herself off so well...
"I think Champion Jimmy, Miss Moore's Jenny, and my own Laurel King, who was her son and a champion like her-self, (Editor: Here he is referring to Laurel Queen, who was the dam of 'Laurel King'), were the only three 'in the same street' with Champion Laurel Queen, who had the grace and style of her mother Jenny, (Editor: here is where he confuses the two females as Jenny was the niece of Laurel Queen and not her mother, which was 'Tibbie'), that came to me from the late Herbert Young of Harrogate, who was quite an enthusiast about cats, and a very skilful breeder of them, and he told me he had her from Mr. Sugden of Withnell, near Chorley, Yorkshire, and her beautiful colour and clear markings she took from her sire, Champion King of the Fancy, of whose off-spring I never saw a bad specimen, but I think he was seldom shown."2
Mr. Lane is clearly here referring to his own 'Laurel Queen', bred by Mr. Young, and acquired from Mr. Bullock, and sired by 'King of the Fancy'. She in turn was the dam of his own, 'Champion Laurel King'. This does serve however to firmly establish that there was a lengthy friendship between Mr. Herbert Young and Mr. Charles Lane, over which period a number of acquisitions were subsequently made.
As to the ownership of 'Ch. Jimmy', this is without question, he was purchased by Mrs Louis Herring, and with her he remained.
In an article written in 1899 by E. Leuty Collins, for 'The Windsor Magazine', we are provided with further information about both 'Ch. Jimmy' and his well-known owner:
"Champion Jimmy, the property of Mrs. Herring, the veteran pioneer of lady fanciers, always holds his own. He revels now under the titles of 'Champion' and 'Premier', and has gained for his mistress over fifty first and special prizes, with silver cups and medals. He is a magnificent English silver tabby, with perfect markings, and, having captured so many coveted honours, considers himself beyond the average professional. Of course Mrs Herring exhibits her other famous beauties, both Persian and other foreign scions of the cat tribe; and I was much amused lately to see them all gambolling over the lawn at 'Lestock', in the company with six or seven beautiful King Charles spaniels."8
Of possible full siblings, Mr. Charles Lane refers to owning an "own sister to Mrs George Herring's Jimmy", as well as other silver Tabby shorthairs in the following:
"I think I have had more of them than anyone else I remember in the South or West of England, and for many years could bench or pen the best team of the colour probably ever seen in the possession of one owner, comprising a champion of each sex, and three or four runners up.
Without yet revealing who this wonderful female sibling of 'Ch. Jimmy' is, he alludes to the successes of her sibling:
"Her brother was a very handsome cat, took numerous prizes, and was the only cat I remember taking the Gold Medal of the National Cat Club, at the Crystal Palace Show, as 'Best Cat, Long or Shorthaired,' in the show.
Again he does not yet give us her name, but in summing up his text on the Silver Tabby Shorthair as a variety, but her identity is finally revealed in a later paragraph in which he clearly states:
"I hope to give with this sketch, reproductions of the portraits of Champions Jimmy and Laurel Queen, brother and sister, and Champion Laurel King, son of the last named, as representatives of the variety."2
This sibling relationship is further reinforced by the entry in the Register for 'Champion Laurel Queen', (1477) Vol.33, which shows her as bred by Mr. H. Young, owned formerly by Mr. H.W. Bullock, and currently owned by Mr. Charles Lane, of Laurel Bank, Downend, near Bristol. The Sire and Dam listed, are a match for those of 'Ch. Jimmy', but no date of birth is given. Thus a full sibling relationship is confirmed but we cannot be sure that they were from the same litter, even though that is probably likely.
Winner of many Specials and Prizes; also NCC Gold Medal and Specials, Crystal Palace, 1891; 1st Crystal Palace and B.A. 1892; etc...
Certainly, the most influential and successful of all 'Ch. Jimmy's' progeny, was his strikingly marked son, 'Ch. James II', later owned and shown by Mrs. Collingwood. Records on his origins are slim, other than a handwritten note suggesting that his dam was 'Rose' owned by Mrs. Newland. The only official record of a transfer is that moving him from the ownership of Mrs. Leuty Collins to Mrs. Collingwood. 'James II' himself went on to sire such famous cats as Miss Cathcart's 'Silver Stripes', (the sire of 'Ch. Genesee Valley Jane'), Mrs. J. C. Mitchelson's 'The Buzzing Silver', as well as 'Holmefield Silver Tabby Boy' and 'Dame Fortune'.
Of interest may be the odd man out, 'Bengal', who being a Silver Tabby longhair, shows that our 'Ch. Jimmy' carried the gene for long hair, so does this make 'Bengal' the first official 'British Longhair' on record? 'Bengal' was in turn the sire of Silver Tabby Shorthair, 'Sweet William', who sired 'Ch. Dame Fortune II'
Also of note is daughter 'Princess Diva' bred by Mrs. Bonny, originally owned by Mrs. Herring, but later appearing as owned by Lady Alexander. And Mrs. Moore's 'Jenny', who according to Charles Lane was one of a trio of cats, including 'Jimmy' and his sister's son 'Laurel King' were the only three contenders to be considered in the same league as 'Laurel Queen'.
Progeny of note and record are:
The above photograph appears in the 28th October 1896 issue of 'The Sketch', accompanied by this short biographical note by an unnamed author:
In summary, the last word should come as a quote from page 287 of Frances Simpson's The Book of The Cat where the writer Mr. H.E. Jung, states:-
"Silver Tabbies I must certainly class among the most aristocratic of the breeds. Fanciers will tell you how difficult it is to obtain a good one. Either the tabby markings are not clear, nor sufficiently defined, the black is not dense enough, the butterfly markings are not distinct, or the eyes are not of the correct colour. To get anything like a perfect type in silvers is a great feat, and only the outcome of judicious mating. One of the great faults of many silvers on the bench today s that they are deficient in size, and unless we attend to this I am afraid that shortly we are likely to produce a diminutive type which, of course, is greatly to be avoided. I hardly think this breed is sufficiently supported, taking into consideration the richness in colour and markings of the silver tabby....
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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