SILVER JESSAMINE (1897)
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In truth, we know very little about the silver female named 'Silver Jessamine', popularised by name as just 'Jessamine'. Although her litter sister, 'The Silver Lily', is arguably the most renown of all of the progeny from 'Dossie' and 'The Silver Lambkin', 'Jessamine' more than held her own in the popularity stakes with the general public, her portrait appearing on postcards for many years, in varying formats. In this sense, she was the 'poster girl' of the family. Along with her full and half siblings, she represented an equal first at the peak of attainment for the Chinchilla breed, at a time when everyone was seriously striving to breed for 'clarity of coat', free from barring, the lighter the better. In this respect 'Silver Jessamine' fell behind her sister, as she was noticeably more shaded and more barred. But, both she and 'The Silver Lily' were prized daughters of an outstanding foundation sire, so their value also lay in their potential as breeders and to produce an improved generation of silvers, that everyone hoped would show promise of even clearer coats, in the quest for what was then, the 'self silver'.
This quest was erroneous in the respect that such a cat does not exist, as all silvers are not self coloured, but tipped. So in reality, the quest was only a search for a coat free from barring and of the very lightest of shades, essentially with colour restricted to only the very tip of the hair shaft.
That the breeders did ultimately achieve this goal, in what in reality was a very short space of time, is nothing short of remarkable. This was especially so, given the lack of genetic knowledge, and without an understanding of the 'Inhibitor' gene. Amazingly, many breeders had begun to realise that the use of smokes in the background (which today we know are 'non-agouti'), helped to clear the coats of barring, inherited initially from the Silver tabby (agouti) background.
From when 'Ch. Silver Lambkin' was born in 1889, to when the first relatively unbarred specimens started appearing around 1900, then to a time when the ticking was also limited to the very tips and no longer appeared 'shaded', was a space of approximately only 20 plus years. During this time also, the allowable eye colour which originally included both 'green' and 'yellow' eyes, was generally accepted by the majority to be "preferably green", with the standard for the Chinchilla in time, eventually being amended to only 'green' as acceptable.
Silver Jessamine' was born 15th May 1897, bred by Mrs Wellbye. Her sire was the timelessly memorable 'Ch. Silver Lambkin' owned by Mrs. Balding, and her dam was 'Dossie', a very modest Chinchilla female owned by Mrs Wellbye and bred by Lady Fitzhardinge.2
Eng Ch Perso Ch Silver Lambkin, Chinchilla | Beauty of Bridgeyate Silver Jessamine, May-15-1897, Chinchilla, F | Mr. York Dossie, Chinchilla May
We know little about her ownership, other than she is listed in the National Cat Club Register as owned by Miss R. A. Packham, an avid breeder of Silvers and Blues, with access to some of the best lines in the country. There also appears to be no evidence that she was ever transferred from this ownership. Miss Packham, was also at one time, the owner of 'Silver Charm' and the blue-eyed white male, 'Scotlands Pride' (aka Fulmer Scotland's Pride), a full brother to 'Crystal'. She was a breeder of Blue Persians alongside Miss Frances Simpson from the early 1890's and in fact, was co-owner with Miss Simpson of 'Lindfield Bootles'. Miss Packham also appears to have used 'Ch. Silver Lambkin' while he was standing at stud, so it comes as no surprise that with such established credentials, she was able to purchase a daughter of 'The Silver Lambkin' from Mrs Wellbye.2
Of siblings, 'Silver Jessamine' had just one full litter sister, 'The Silver Lily', but also a younger full brother in 'Silver Monarch' born two years later, and in between these litters, two dam-siblings, sired by 'The Silver Squire' (aka'The Squire') which were 'Silver Lotus' and 'Silver Veronica'(aka St. Veronica).
'The Silver Lily' appears to have been the 'show girl', popular with breeders and exhibitors, who saw in her, the grace, and clear-coated style, that was the aim of every silver fancier. But while postcards featuring 'Jessamine' were aplenty, images of 'Silver Lily' by comparison, were non-existent, unless shown as a cute kitten, in conjunction with her equally cute litter sister, usually subtitled as 'Dossies Daughters'.
In the above photograph we are shown 'Dossie's daughters', but which? In an alternative pairing of photographed kittens from a later litter to a male called 'The Silver Squire', these are always denoted as 'The Daughters of The Squire', but in this case, the appellation is simply 'Dossie's Daughters'. So we are inclined to believe that in this case, the above images are representative of the baby 'Jessamine' and 'The Silver Lily'. Certainly the kitten appearing on the right in the photo above is the clearer coated. Comparing the adult photos to the kitten photos, we are therefore inclined to accept that the kitten on the left is 'Silver Jessamine' while the kitten on the right is likely to be 'The Silver Lily'.
In the above photo portraits we see 'Silver Jessamine's' full litter sister, born 15th May, 1897 ,'The Silver Lily' and her full younger brother from a repeat breeding, 'Silver Monarch', born 1st June, 1899. 'The Silver Lily' shows all the highly desirable refinements of the newly emerging breed, with an especially clear-coated face, free of shading or barring, while their younger brother, 'Silver Monarch', bears a striking resemblance to their famous sire, displaying the more well-developed, fully rounded expression you would expect to find in a young male.
Having already bred 'Dossie' the previous year, directly and successfully to 'Ch. Silver Lambkin' with excellent results, in 1898, Mrs. Wellbye chose to try a variation, and this time chose to breed 'Dossie' to another of Mrs. Balding's males, a son of 'Ch. Silver Lambkin' known as 'The Silver Squire'. This was a move with exceptional foresight, as 'Silver Squire' was the product of a half-brother to half-sister mating, doubling on the dam of 'Ch. Silver Lambkin' himself. When Mrs. Wellbye had bred 'Dossie' directly to 'Ch. Silver Lambkin' and produced both 'Jessamine' and 'The Silver Lily', she had simply doubled on 'Ch. Silver Lambkin's' dam, through Dossie's grandsire, 'Charlbury Silver King'. But by choosing to breed to 'Silver Squire', she was in fact choosing to TRIPLE exclusively on 'Beauty of Bridgeyate'
From this breeding came two more females and a male, the females being photographed extensively by E.Landor(Ealing), both as kittens and young cats and who became well known simply as "the daughters of The Squire". The male was registered as 'Lucifer', but although he is listed under Mrs. Wellbye's name, there are no photographs extant and no records of any progeny from him.
Both females however, were shown very successfully as can be attested to by the commentary of Frances Simpson in The Book of the Cat (1903) in which she states:
".....which may also be said of those of Mrs Wellbye, whose 'Silver Lotus' and 'Veronica,' daughters of 'Silver Squire' and 'Dossie,' did so much winning in their day".
Of show wins for 'Silver Jessamine', we have only those listed at the time of her registration in the Register of the National Cat Club. These were:
There are currently no records available providing any evidence of progeny from 'Silver Jessamine'.
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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