NAPOLEON THE GREAT (c1888)
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This amazing Red Longhair, (described as a French Angora) was imported into the United States from France. He is unilaterally described by author Helen M. Winslow as "The most highly valued cat in America, whose owner has refused four thousand dollars for him. He rejoices in the name 'Napoleon the Great', and the title is well bestowed. A magnificent fellow he is, with his bushy orange fur and grand lion-like head."1
Remarkably, at the time she was writing, 'Napoleon The Great' had already attained more than 10 years of age and weighed twenty-three pounds, which she noted "is a remarkable weight in a male cat, only gelded ones ordinarily running above fifteen pounds."2
She further enlarges: "He is a pure French Angora, which is shown by his crinkly hair - so long that it has to be frequently clipped to preserve the health and comfort of the beautiful creature. This clipping is what causes the apparently uneven quality of fur which appears in his picture. His great size is increased by his bushy fur and these with his tawny colour and grand head, make him look, especially while lying down, like a young lion."1
According to Winslow, Napoleon was bred by a French Nobleman and was born at the Chateau Fontainebleau, near Paris in 1888! "His mother was a very famous cat, and his grandmother was one of the grandest dams in the country. The latter apparently lived and flourished up to the age of nineteen years and consequently Napoleon the Great is considered by his owners as a mere youth."1 His owner is listed as Mrs. Charles Weed, of Woodhaven, Queens Co., New York.
Unknown Unknown | Unknown Napoleon the Great, c1888, Orange(Red), M | Unknown Unknown Unknown
Helen Winslow further advises that Napoleon "has taken first prizes and medals wherever he has been exhibited, and at Boston, in1897 he won the silver cup for offered for the Best Cat in the exhibition."1
Of 'Napoleon's' progeny we are told of Mrs. Weed's 'Margeurite', the mother of a magnificent Black Angora male named 'Le Noir', a son of Napoleon, valued at a thousand dollars at the age of a year and a half. His sister, 'Juno', was apparently born in 1894 and was valued at fifteen hundred dollars. "When she was seven months old, her owners refused two hundred dollars for her. She was a tortoise-shell and white French Angora, and a remarkably beautiful creature."1
Helen Winslow herself gives two contradicting reports on the colour and pattern of 'Juno'. In her book Concerning Cats(1900) she is described as a Tortie & White, but in an article written by Winslow two years earlier, for The Bazar, in 1898, 'Juno' is described as a Brown and White.
A poor image of her is given with that article and if we take a pragmatic view, and given that the photo does indicate some barring coming from the face, she was probably, most likely, a Brown Tortie (Patched) Tabby and White.
We are further told: "All these cats are great pets, and are allowed the freedom of the house and barns, although when they run about the grounds there is always a man in attendance. Seven or eight thousand dollars' worth of cats sporting on the lawn together is a rich sight, but not altogether without risk. Indeed, most people who keep fancy cats find it necessary to set a constant watch over them."1
In the records of The U.S. Register and Studbook for Cats, we find more references to the progeny and grand-progeny of 'Napoleon the Great'. The most prominent of these is a cat named 'Bunch' a red tabby male sired by 'Napoleon' and out of an unnamed Red and White dam.
'Bunch' (USR, 37) is recorded as born in New York, in 1894 and appears to have been purchased by a syndicate which included Mrs. Cora L. Norton, Mrs. Edith Talbot, Mrs. Chas. S. DeWitt, Mrs. F.W. Story. Interestingly, although registered as an Orange Tabby (Red Tabby) it is noted on his registration that he only had slight markings, which would suggest that he was closer to being a 'self-coloured' red.3 His photo is given here.
It is through 'Bunch' and his subsequent progeny, that the bloodlines of 'Napoleon the Great' were to be passed down to later generations. Bunch is also recorded in the register of the Beresford Cat Club, but with sire and dam as 'unknown' and under the name of 'Longwood Bunch'.4
It is in fact, through a son and daughter of 'Bunch', namely a male named 'Naulahka' and a Tortie female named 'Scamp' (BCC: 296) who when bred together in 1900 produced 'Prince of Orange', who holds the distinction of being the first Orange Champion cat in the United States.
It is also through three other daughters of 'Bunch', namely 'Nitochris' a Tortie and White born 21st April, 1901,'Lady Topaz' a Tortie and White born 9th July, 1901 and 'Uarda', a Red Tabby female botn 12th May 1902, that the lines of 'Napoleon the Great' were further passed on.3
None currently available.
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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