PUCK III (1901)
PHOTOS | SOCIAL MEDIA | REFERENCES
HRH Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein and her sister Princess Christian, were both enamoured of Persian cats and were active within the Cat Fancy. Both owned Blue and Silver Persians, and Princess Victoria made no bones about the fact that her beloved Chinchilla's were her favourites. She sold and exported a number of fine Blues for breeding, among them, 'Royal Bobs' (owned by Mrs. Collingwood of Leighton Buzzard) and 'Amesh' (owned by Mrs. J.V. Gotwalts, of Pottstown, Pennsylvania). But it was to her Silver Persians that she was especially devoted.
It would appear that the most significant boost to her Silver breeding program came in 1901, with the birth of both 'Imp II' (born 4th April) and 'Puck III' (born 18th April), both bred by Lady Marcus Beresford at Bishopsgate. These two cats, one female and one male, provided the Princess with some of the best Silver bloodlines available at the time, plus a reasonable degree of genetic diversity. They also made it possible for her to remain an independent breeder of Silvers, without the need to venture outside of her own domain at Cumberland Lodge to secure sound silver lines.
In the context of Clubs established for the furtherance of the cause of the Silver Persian, Frances Simpson, in the Chapter on 'Silver of Chinchilla Persians' in The Book of The Cat(1903) provides this illumination:-
"Two clubs have been formed in connection to the Chinchilla cat - one, the Silver Society, embraced other colour cats besides the Chinchilla, this eventually becoming the Silver and Smoke Persian Cat Society. It was owing to this club encouraging shaded, or marked silver cats with orange eyes that the Chinchilla Club was formed by Mrs. Balding. This club has the honour of having as Patron, H.S.H. Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein, who owns and exhibits some beautiful Chinchillas, and Lord Decies as Vice-President."1
So from this time, the Princess was firmly seated in the camp which followed the path for 'Green Eyes' in the Chinchilla cat and was a worthy Patron and fellow breeder/exhibitor.
'Puck III' was born at Lady Beresford's famous 'Bishopsgate cattery' on 18th April, 1901. His sire was Mrs Snell's strikingly handsome 'Silver Starlight', a son of 'Silver Laddie' whom Mrs Balding has established as a total outcross for the 'Silver Lambkin' strain. However, 'Silver Laddies' background is unknown and eludes us all to this day. 'Starlight's dam, 'Minnette' descends directly from a Silver Tabby line, headed by 'Ch. Topso of Dingley'. The dam of 'Puck III' was 'Windsor Dimity', a stalwart and excellent breeder,(formerly owned by Miss H. Cochran) who counts among her other famous progeny, cats such as Mrs Clarks 'The Absent-Minded Beggar' and Mr Witt's 'Gossamer' among others. 'Dimity' was sired by the memorable 'Ch. Lord Southampton, so she brought to the pedigree a double on 'Beauty of Bridgeyate' with the memorable outcrosses provided by 'Ch. Nizam' and 'Ch. Bundle'. On her dams side, she also was descended from a silver tabby line headed by 'Ch. Topso of Dingley'.
Silver Laddie, Chinchilla Silver Starlight, Chinchilla | Minette, Chinchilla Puck III, Apr-18-1901, Chinchilla, M | Eng Ch Lord Southampton, Chinchilla Windsor Dimity, Chinchilla New Forest Fair, Silver Tabby
So in 'Puck' the Princess obtained a male who directly combined the bloodlines of two of the most fashionable Chinchilla males in the country at the time, namely 'Silver Starlight' and 'Ch. Lord Southampton'. The female purchased at this time, was 'IMP II', sired by Mr C. Witt's 'Prince of the Fairies' who was himself from a powerful combination of 'Lord Argent' with the superlative 'Whitehall Seraph' (aka The Seraph) another daughter of 'Ch. Lord Southampton'. The dam in this case was Lady Beresford's 'Squaw' who although relatively unknown, carried a distant triple on 'Ch. Silver Lambkin', who was already strongly represented in the pedigree of 'Prince of the Fairies'. This combination also brought back another direct link to 'Ch.Topso of Dingley'.
In this regard, Lady Marcus Beresford had been a helpful and thoughtful mentor. She had provided a strong base, with elements of line-breeding, but also as an insurance policy against possible losses or any unforeseen disaster.
The Princess was indeed fortunate to have a supportive and understanding family, with a sister who shared her passion for the feline hobby and a father in HRH Prince Christian of Denmark, who gave his support in a more practical manner. On the occasion of her birthday, he presented her with a custom-made stud house designed by himself, which consisted of a bedroom, a living room, an outer run and separate compartments.2
This happy event was also reported in the 25th April, 1903 issue of 'Our Cats', as follows: -
"H.R.H.Prince Christian has given Princess Victoria, as a birthday present, a lovely cat house for 'Puck'. It has two rooms, a bedroom and a living room. In the latter there is a nice large window and a red figured blind, with broad cream lace at the bottom, and a red tassel, which greatly pleases Master Puck. He is very proud of his new house and run, and in his sitting room are hung up all his prize cards and also his photographs and those of his children. Imp is expecting a litter by Puck this week."5
Although there appear to be no traceable full siblings, of sire and dam siblings of 'Puck III' there are ample. This is in part due to the popularity of his sire 'Silver Starlight' but also because 'Windsor Dimity' (aka Dimity) was a prolific and most successful brood queen, almost unparalleled in the annals of Silver Persian breeding history. So we list here, only the most notable sire and dam siblings of 'Puck III':-
Dam Siblings of note:
Sire Siblings of note:
Of 'Puck's' show wins, information is scarce, although in his stud advertisement we are formally advised that he is a high prize-winner. None are recorded in The Cat Club Register, nor in The Book of The Cat, but it is highly likely that he did in fact take out a number of respectable and highly sought-after wins in the Silver Division at shows, given that we are told his prize cards are displayed inside the living room of his stud quarters! Regardless, his photo shows us that he is indeed a handsome fellow, who continued to pass on his good looks to his progeny, proof of which is provided in the female 'Venus', whose kitten wins are recorded, as well as her fine photo by Russell & Sons, of Windsor.
The above litter of Silver Tabbies is very likely to have been sired by 'Puck III', possibly out of the Princess's Silver female 'Chela' who was more heavily barred than either 'Imp' or her own 'Venus'. The photo is taken from a Rotary Photo postcard in The Harrison Weir Collection, but a cropped version of exactly the same image appears on page 167, in Frances Simpson's The Book of The Cat.
Interestingly, very few of 'Puck's' progeny are listed, with the exception of a litter from his cattery mate 'Chela' which resulted in three daughters named, 'Princess Victoria', 'Princess Alexandra', and 'Princess Olga II' respectively.
However, we have successfully tracked two other relative unknowns, one being his silver daughter 'Venus' whose wins as a kitten are recorded in a 1903 issue of Our Cats which we quote in full below and whose image appears in an article on the Cumberland Lodge cattery, featured in Cassell's Magazine, circa 1903. It is also probable that in the above photo of three silver tabby kittens, the lightest kitten of the three (far right) could in fact be 'Venus'. It was not unknown for chinchillas to begin as barred silver tabbies and to slowly lose the majority of their markings during development.
In another litter, out of a blue-eyed white female, 'Windsor Queen Alexandria', 'Puck' appears to have sired the White male 'Windsor Laddie', who was exported to the United States, to the 'Windsor Cat Kennels' of Carl St, San Francisco. In evidence of this, we have to hand a full page cattery advertisement, from the Show Catalogue of the Pacific Cat Club Show, held on 5th and 6th February, 1909. In this advertisement there is a small photo of 'Windsor Laddie' along with a second listing for a cat named 'Windsor Don', another White male , 'with the deepest blue eyes', who is also listed as sired by Don Carlos (a blue son of Ch. Ayrshire Ronald) and the same white dam, 'Queen Alexandria'.
The report of wins by 'Venus' as a kitten, from the 7th February, 1903 issue of 'Our Cats':-
"We think all cat lovers will rejoice to hear of the success of HRH Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein in Manchester last week. Besides winning two third prizes with the pretty blue queen Kilpatrick, the Princess took two firsts, several specials, and the Chinchilla breeders cup with a lovely kitten most appropriately named Venus. The pleasure and value of Venus's wins are greatly enhanced by the fact that she was bred by her royal mistress, her sire being Puck III. Needless to say, the kitten won her honours entirely upon her own merits, and it was a pleasant surprise to the judge when her duties were over, to learn the breeder and owner of the first prize kitten. We predict a very successful career for this lovely Chinchilla queen, and trust, that her wins will serve to increase still more the interest of the Princess in our fascinating hobby. We learn that the Princess is specially pleased with her win of the Chinchilla Breeders Cup, kindly presented to the Club, by George H.Walker Esq. HRH Prince Christian, has won a somewhat similar cup with his prize pigs, and the two are to be placed together on the dining room side table at Cumberland Lodge."5
The following is a portion of the full-page cattery advertisement for the 'Windsor Cat Kennels' of San Francisco, showing both the photo of 'Windsor Laddie' a white son of 'Puck III' and the listing for his half-brother, a white named 'Windsor Don':-
The below excerpt from the 8th October 1904 issue of Our Cats, shows us the extremely long arm of the cat fancy when a breeder decides to fulfil a private mission! It also provides evidence of how 'Windsor Laddie' came about:
"Mrs Coddington, a Californian lady has brought a lovely queen over to England with her in order to mate with Puck III. This cat, by name 'Queen Alexandra', is a beautiful white longhair, with very large blue eyes. It will be very interesting to see what kittens result from such a mating. 'Queen Alexandra' took first and two specials at two shows in San Francisco."
Obviously 'Windsor Laddie' was the subsequent result of the planned mating. One can only wonder how long 'Queen Alexandra' must have been resident at Cumberland Lodge, before the mating took place, and the delicate condition and arrangements surrounding her safe return to California! It is surely a credit to the organisational skills of both Mrs. Coddington and HRH Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein, that the mission was a complete success.
As to 'Puck III's virility, the following missive from the editorial columns of Our Cats published 13th August, 1904, will leave little doubt:
"Cumberland Lodge - The Princess Victoria has so far recovered from her illness that she has returned to Cumberland Lodge and has walked round to the pretty cattery there to see her pets. Chela has five lovely kittens and Imp has two, both families by Puck III., who sires very fine kittens. On August 7th there was great excitement in the cattery. Prince Christian's cat, Ladybird by name, had a flourishing family of nine by Puck III. She has beaten the Cumberland Lodge record. Miss Amor, would sell some of these pretty kittens for about a pound apiece, or give one or two away to be sold for a deserving charity."
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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