CRYSTAL PALACE - S.S.P.C.S MEDALS (1902/1903)

MUSEUMFACTFILE
ClassificationAwards
CategoryMedallion
ArtifactSilver & Smoke Persian Cat Society Medals
Date1902 and 1903
ConnectionThe Crystal Palace National Cat Shows, 1902, & 1903
CollectionThe Harrison Weir Collection
DescriptionBronzed Medal with Green Enamelled Rim
Brief HistoryAwarded to the highest scoring Silver or Smoke Exhibit in Show, donated by The S.S.P.C.S.
AcquisitionPurchased for The Harrison Weir Collection, 2016.

The Crystal Palace National Cat Show Medal, 1902
Courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

The years of 1900 and 1901, were notable in the development of the Cat Fancy, as it was during this period that most of the new Specialist Clubs were formed, and that breeder members began to exert influence on the show circuit and seek greater public recognition of their respective breed varieties.

Although some Specialist Clubs were based a single breed, or grouping of breeds, most were in fact based on divisions with the colour varieties, especially where the Longhairs were concerned. Hence, we find groupings of related colours within Persians in particular, forming Specialist Clubs. Examples of these are for instance, the Black and White Club, the Blue Persian Cat Society, the Orange Cream Fawn and Tortoiseshell Society, the Silver and Smoke Persian Cat Society, and the Chinchilla Cat Club.

THE SILVER SOCIETY

At the time of its inauguration, The Silver and Smoke Persian Cat Society, began life as 'The Silver Society' when founded by Mrs. Champion in 1900; and was in fact, the first Specialist Club. At that time, it also included the Smoke and Silver Tabby varieties, and for silvers there was a three-fold classification adopted by a clear majority of the membership. This specified the differences between what constituted a Chinchilla as opposed to a Shaded Silver, and/or a Silver Tabby. But by the time of Westminster Show, in early 1901, there was considerable confusion over the threefold classification of silvers, especially between exhibitors and judges and the controversy spilled over into the cat papers, in what was universally described as the 'silver muddle'.

Author and judge Miss Frances Simpson wrote:

"..exhibitors and judges felt alike, that something must be done, and that, at any rate, for a time, it would be better to have only two classes for silvers and silver tabbies, and that Specials might be given to encourage the lightest cats." (referring to Chinchilla's).

She further adds:

"The abolition of the threefold classification was therefore taken into consideration when the Silver Society was broken up by the departure of Mrs. Champion to America, and the Silver and Smoke Persian Cat Society, came into existence, with Mr(s) H.V. James as Honorary Secretary."

THE SILVER AND SMOKE PERSIAN CAT SOCIETY

In Miss Simpson's Book of the Cat published by Cassells, in the list of specialist clubs, the secretary of the Society is given as Mrs. H.V. James, of Backwell, near Bristol; and indicates that the annual subscription was set at 5 shillings.

When a second vote was taken of the membership of the new Society on the issue of the three-fold classification, the result was 20 for, 32 against; and consequently, the classification was duly dropped. Within eighteen months, membership of the club had soared to about 150.

THE CRYSTAL PALACE CAT SHOWS OF 1902 and 1903

The great annual National Championship Show, inaugurated and held under the auspices of the National Cat Club was considered by all cat fanciers, regardless of affiliation, to be the premier show event of the year. The show was generally held in October each year and competition was usually fierce, with most classes well represented.

Boxed Medals of the S.S.P.C.S. from the 1902 and 1903 Crystal Palace Shows.
Courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

The Fourteenth Championship Show of the National Cat Club was held at the Crystal Palace, Sydenham, on Oct 28th and 29th, 1902; with over 500 cats being penned. The Show Manager on this occasion being Mr J. B. Townshend. Amongst the only exhibits that would have qualified for the club award in 1902, were:

The Best of Breed Silver, which was awarded to Mrs. G. Wilson's Chinchilla male, Rob Roy of Arrandale who on this rare occasion, had gained the win and the Championship over his perennial rival, the seldom defeated famous chinchilla queen Fulmer Zaida. This class was judged by Mrs. Greenwood.

Another qualifier, was Mrs. H. V. James' Black Smoke male, 'Backwell Jubilee II', in a class judged by Mr Charles A. House, who described him as "a very taking young cat, shown at his best, capital shape, head and coat, and showing the real smoke characteristics". Jubilee II was successful in winning the class over Mrs. Steads well known Smoke, 'Champion Ranji'.

The Silver Tabby class was judged by Miss Frances Simpson, with the Best of Breed being taken by Mrs. Herring's 'King Alfred', over Mrs. Derby Hyde's young 'Thames Valley Argent'. While no reports clearly indicate who gained the Club Special, we can possibly assess this by first comparing the wins of 1902, with those from 1903.

At the 15th Championship Show of the National Cat Club, held at the Crystal Palace on Tuesday and Wednesday October 27th and 28th, 1903; the published Show Reports indicate the following wins:

In Chinchillas, the class was judged by Mrs. Martin, who selected Mrs. White Atkins male, 'Pathan' as Best Male and Lady Decies 'Champion Fulmer Zaida' as best female. The show report also indicates that 'Pathan' "also run the smoke very close for Best Male in the S.S.P.C.S", which would strongly indicate that the Smoke exhibit took that Award.

The Smoke and the Silver Tabby classes were both judged by Mr T. Mason. Of the 8 males entered, the judge's choice was with Mrs. H.V. James Champion Backwell Jogram whom Mr. Mason described as "looking wonderful for his age, and coming into capital coat". In the Silver Tabby class, there were 15 entries, the choice for Best Male out of 7 exhibits, being Mr. R.Southby's 'Dingley Fashion'; and Best Female our of 8 exhibits, being Miss Copes' 'Roiall Fluff Ball'.

Mrs. H. V. James' CHAMPION BACKWELL JOGRAM
Courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

CONCLUSION

Given that 'Champion Backwell Jogram' appears to have been the winner of the S.S.P.C.S Medal in 1903, and that both medals were found in common ownership, it seems very likely that the medal from 1902 was probably won by the young Backwell Jubilee II, as one of the contenders for it, and that in fact both medals were owned by Mrs. H.V. James.

It is of interest to note that 'Backwell Jogram', (NCC:3071, born April 2nd, 1897); was himself sired by Mrs. James' original black smoke stud, 'Backwell Jubilee' (NCC:1882, born in July 1893). A daughter of 'Jogram' was subsequently the dam of 'Backwell Jubilee II' (CCR:v5, born April 12th, 1901).

Above Left: S.S.P.C.S Medal likely to have been won by Mrs. H.V. James' BACKWELL JUBILEE II, a Black Smoke Persian male, and grandson of 'BACKWELL JOGRAM', the winner of the S.S.P.C.S medal above right, in 1903.
Courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection

References:

  1. The Book of the Cat (1903) by Frances Simpson
  2. Cats for Pleasure or Profit (1909) by Frances Simpson.(Photo of Jogram)
  3. Our Cats Magazine, November 1st, 1902.
  4. Our Cats Magazine, December 20th, 1902.
  5. Our Cats Magazine, October 31st, 1903.
  6. Medal images courtesy of The Harrison Weir Collection.
  7. Text John Smithson, 2018


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