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'Neptune' is the first Black Longhair to appear in the official Stud Book and Register of the National Cat Club and only the 39th cat in Volume One. His owner is listed as H.W.H. Warner, and of course, Mrs. H.W.H. Warner was later to become known as the Hon. Mrs. (Alice) McLaren Morrison. He must have had distinctly pure colour, as in the register his colour is specifically notated as 'Jet Black', which description we do not find on other registered Black cats.2
Mrs. Morrison had always had a long affinity with Blacks, as was noted by Miss Frances Simpson, as she recalled some of the more noted Blacks that had been exhibited on the show bench, in The Book of the Cat (1903).
"In looking back to the old catalogues of Crystal Palace Shows, I find the same scarcity of blacks exhibited as at the present day. In 1886 the black male class is marked 'no entry,' and in 1889 Mrs. H.W.H. Warner (now the Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison) makes the sole and only entry of 'Imp' in the black class. It was in the following year, however, that this same well-known lady fancier exhibited 'Satan,' a black that was never beaten whilst it lived."3
Miss Simpson also quotes from Harrison Weir, whose commentary about the black, questioned the reasoning behind the superstitions surrounding them, and the abject cruelty they suffered at the hands of humankind.
"It is often said, 'What's in a name?' The object, whatever it is, by any other would be the same; and yet there is much in a name. But this is not the question at issue, which is that of colour. Why should a black cat be thought so widely different from all others by the foolish, unthinking, and ignorant?
Why, simply on account of its colour being black, should it have ascribed to it a numberless variety of bad omens, besides having certain necromantic power?4
"In the 'good old times' a black cat was generally the only colour that was favoured by men reported to be wizards, and black cats were said to be the constant companion of witches; and in such horror and detestation were they then held that when the unfortunate creatures were ill-treated, drowned or even burned, very frequently, we are told, their cats suffered martyrdom at the same time.4
In the Register, 'Neptune' is not listed with any known parentage, or even a date of birth, but we do know from his show wins that he must have at least been born prior to, or at least no later than, 1887. His only owner of record appears to have been Mrs. H.W.H. Warner, with the address of record as 10 Breadalbane Terrace, Haymarket, Edinburgh.
He appears to have been placed at public stud, and a number of breeders are recorded to have taken advantage of this, retaining both males and females from this noted early sire. Mrs. Warner also bred and sold a number of his male and female progeny for breeding, as is evidenced by further registrations.
Unknown Unknown | Unknown Neptune, c1887, Black, M | Unknown Unknown Unknown
No specific information can be found to substantiate whether he had any siblings or half-siblings. However we do have some information on his early show wins, which included a First and two Seconds at the Crystal Palace in 1888; two Firsts, a National Cat Club medal, a Second and five Thirds, in 1891; two Firsts, a Silver Medal, a Second and a Fourth in 1892; thereby eventually gaining the much coveted Championship.2
'Neptune' appears to have been a singularly successful sire, who contributed his lines to Solids, Smokes, Tabbies and Chinchilla's during the early 1890's.
Sons of record include:
Daughters of record include:
Three other daughters of 'Ch Neptune' are observed in the registers as the dams of other registered cats but not registered in their own right. These are 'TOWSE II' owned by Mr. Drummond, 'TITTENS' owned by Mr. A. Macpherson, and 'LADY', owned by Mr. R. Close.2
None currently available.
'Champion Neptune' can claim the honour of being the first Black Persian male of distinction to be registered, to gain his Championship, and to have left a not insignificant number of progeny to promulgate both his colour and his breed. It is indeed fortunate that we have this image of him by Rosa Bebb, which illustrates a bold, clear eyed male, of significant bone and coat, who must have been a rather imposing figure in a show cage, when presented in top show condition.
Mrs. McLaren Morrison continued to show a long-term interest in Blacks, just as she did with her Whites, for which she became justly famous. Even today, the breeder of Whites will, when desirous of producing a crystal clear bright white coat, turn to the best solid black male they can find, with colour sound to the root, to produce whites of spectacular gloss and shimmer.
In time, the Blacks would come into their own, and with the benefit of hindsight we can only look back in admiration when we think of many great ones, such as Marjorie Bull's outstanding 'Ch Deebank Mascot' in the United Kingdom, who won Best Cat at the National Show at Olympia. Then across the 'herring pond' to such greats as 'GC Vel-Vene Voo-Doo of Silva-Wyte,' (1959 Cat of The Year), and to cats which were great producers, such as 'GC Misty Mornin' Conquest', and 'GC Lullaby Abracadabra', (to mention but only a few), all of whom, have had an incalculable influence on the continued development of the Persian breed. Today, 'Blacks' rank among the very best, and are a wonderful reminder of how far the Persian has come from the days when 'Neptune' carried the flag on behalf of this colour variety.
'Black' is certainly 'Beautiful' and we are again reminded of the words of Harrison Weir, who stated:
"But, for all this, their admirers are by no means few; and, to my thinking, a jet-black cat, fine and glossy in fur and elegantly formed, certainly has its attractions."4
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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