Chinnie the Mother of chinchillas is familiar in name to every breeder of this lovely variety and the following letter of the early eighties relating to her birth and buying will perhaps prove interesting to the up to date silver fancier It is copied from the original in the possession of Mrs. Vallance One guinea appears to have been a price to talk of in those days. How one would be tempted to hide the fact of such a small amount and if a specimen were offered to us at this low figure, we should desire it to be sent on approval.
SANDAL MAYNER NEAR WAKEFIELD
October 14, 1882
To Mrs VALLANCE,
MADAM The kitten I have to sell is quite pure bred. The mother I bought for is when quite a kitten from prize parents. The father is one we bred partly from Mrs Radford's breed and partly from a splendid tom cat that was found living wild at Babbicombe, and that we had in our possession for some months, but unfortunately, he is lost again, now I am afraid permanently. I think this kitten promises to be very like the mother. She is very handsome and has good points brush ear tips and so on, but I consider her rather small. But the kitten may be finer, as the father is a large cat. Miss Grant's are related to ours, on the father's side, but Mrs Radford's very distantly, if at all. I do not think these Angora kittens are delicate. We have never failed in rearing them. The more new milk they have and the better feeding, the finer cats they are likely to make. We do not have much trouble in keeping ours at home, as we live some distance from the village. We always give ours their principal meal at 6 pm and keep them shut up in a hay loft until next morning. If you have a box wherever the kitten lives with sifted sand or cinders in it, kept in a corner, you will find that the best way to ensure habits of cleanliness. If I hear nothing from you to the contrary, I will send the kitten on Wednesday morning 19th, by the early train from Derby station, and if you are not satisfied with the kitten, I am willing for it to be returned within a day or two, if the return journey is paid and I am let know beforehand when to expect it.
I remain yours truly,
A letter redolent of lavender and old world deliberation, but words of wisdom for all that. The reported delicacy of long haired cats would trouble us less if we had more of the new milk and hay loft system, Raw meat, raw eggs, new milk, fresh air, grass and water are the sole ingredients required to rear the most valuable kitten. Chinnie's size is another interesting point, She grew to medium weight but was remarkable for symmetry of form rather than bulk. Some of the loveliest chinchillas are small, but Nizam, Tod Sloan, Ameer, Silver Lambkin, Laddie, Lord Argent, Silver Mist, Cherub, and St Anthony stand out as being as large or larger than any cats of other colours, and the majority of them have also the purity of colour, broad heads, and short legs, so often lacking in large cats. The legginess and want of quality, which frequently accompanies size doubtless cause our leading judges to deem it of little account.
The name chosen by Mrs. Vallance for her new acquisition, proves that even in those early days the term chinchilla was in vogue. Chinnie's wins were third Maidstone Sittingbourne V.H.C. Oxford, Maidstone. Her charming little mate Fluffy I, a very pure silver, with undecided tabby markings, also showed the quality of coat and cherub face, for which their descendants have been unsurpassed. He was bred in 1883, by Miss Acland, from imported cats, and won first and medal, at Maidstone Cheltenham and Ealing, second Ryde V.H.C. Crystal Palace, Oxford and Lincoln. His career ended in 1886, when he disappeared. Tradition whispers he was destroyed in the village.
In April 1885, Chinnie produced a litter by Fluffy I, two members of which, Vezzoso and Beauty (of Bridgeyate), have earned undying fame in the annals of chinchilla history. Vezzoso a marvel of lavender loveliness in his one brief year of existence, won first in the open class and silver medal for best in show, Albert Palace 1885, first Louth, Maidstone, second Frome, third Lincoln. In fatal 1886, Vezzoso who belied his exquisite appearance by being very un domesticated like his maternal grandfather, the wild cat of Babbicombe, roamed to return no more. Lost in the woods is his epitaph.
An even more tragic fate befell Fluffy II, the 1886 son of Fluffy I and Chinnie, who after winning first Crystal Palace, first and silver medal for best in show Brighton, second Albert Palace and Ealing, and siring the two before mentioned kittens of the year, died in 1887, from the effects of an accident, in which he was internally injured. Thus within little more than a year Mrs Vallance lost three of the most promising young cats anyone could possess. At the time their owner scarcely realised their value, and allowed them absolute freedom, with such sad results.
But undoubtedly the best result of the Fluffy and Chinnie alliance was Beauty, from whom as already stated came the Silver Lambkins. As a kitten she became the property of Miss Howe of Bridgyate, near Bath, and later by a breeding arrangement with the Miss Greshams (now Mrs. Bridgwater and Mrs. Balding) had three remarkable litters of chinchilla kittens, the first by Rahman, who shortly afterwards strayed from home, and was lost. This was the litter which produced four queens, including the two Silver Lambkins, and which with the exception of one renamed Mimi, who went to America with her owner, all unfortunately died. The second of Bridgyate Beauty's litters was by Mrs Shearman's Champion Perso, a magnificent light smoke, with remarkable coat and wonderful mane, winner of a large number of first and special prizes.
In this lot was a torn kitten destined to be a pillar of the chinchilla stud book, the Silver Lambkin named after his deceased half sisters. The chief beauties of this remarkable cat are his size and muscular frame, the length and thickness of coat, and the enormous frill, inherited from Champion Perso which spreads Elizabethan like round his shoulders and falls to his feet in front a cascade of silvery white fluff, several inches long. To Perso may be traced in some degree Silver Lambkin's success as the sire of unmarked cats, and to Beauty their pale colour, green eyes, and perfect shape, which have won for her descendants by Lambkin, upwards of 150 first prizes. At the time Silver Lambkin was bred there was no chinchilla stud cat and no one had thought of trying to breed chinchillas, for whom as before stated, there was no encouragement at shows or at home.
The third litter which brought further fame to Beauty was by Bonny Boy, who in the early nineties was placed second in the class for silver tabbies at the Crystal Palace, but was considered by admirers of chinchillas to be the best cat in the whole show, an honour however, which came to him a month later when at Brighton he was awarded the special for the most perfect specimen of the Persian breed in the exhibition he had previously been claimed at Sydenham, by the Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison, at his catalogue price of 6 £, 6 sterling, and was afterwards renamed Nizam.
The only information that could be obtained about this beautiful cat was that he was exhibited by Mrs Davies and that he came from Wales. Report suggested that he was imported, but there is no evidence of any chinchilla cat having been sent from abroad. Beauty's litter by Nizam consisted of one male and four females, two of which as Twin and I so named, because they were so exactly alike, won first prizes and medals wherever shown. Another was sold by me to Mrs Martin, which as Lambkin Queen, was the foundation of the afterwards noted cattery at High Wycombe. Twin eventually went to Mr. Lawton who renamed her Queen of the Mist. Mated with Silver Lambkin she produced Sea Foam, the first chinchilla to win a prize in a class solely confined to cats of the colour. There was an amusing coincidence about this win inasmuch as after considerable trouble had been taken to get a separate class for chinchillas the judge gave the first prize to a heavily marked silver tabby, thus totally ignoring the desired object. This occurred at the Crystal Palace in 1893 or 1894. The two first classes ever given for chinchillas were this one and that given at Cruft's first cat show at Westminster, held in March 1894.
The next that was heard of Twin was that she had succumbed from the effects of swallowing a needle. I registered as I Beauty's Daughter remained the whole of her lifetime at The Lodge Pengc where when paired with the pale blue Champion Bundle, Southampton Duchess was the result the latter the mother of the Silver Lambkin's most sensational son Champion Lord Southampton who was sold by Mrs Greenwood for 60 [pounds sterling], when he became the property of Lady Decies, this being probably the highest price that has ever been given in England for a cat of any variety. Champion Lord Southampton who has been a very great winner is remarkable for the lightness of colour and slight markings of his kittens, this being undoubtedly due to the strain of blue in his blood. Many beautiful cats own him as sire, notably Miss Leake's Seraph. Mrs Bluhm's Silver Sultan, Mrs Neild's Absent Minded Beggar, Miss White Atkin's Tintagel, Mrs. Tyrwhitt Drake's Musa, Mrs. Rickett's Empress Josephine, Mrs. Earwaker's Buxton Cloud, Mrs. Geo Walker's Woodheys Fitzroy, Mrs. Barnes Nourmahal, winner of the Chinchilla Club challenge for the best kitten 1899 and a daughter of Champion Fulmer Zaida, shown by Lady Decies at the Crystal Palace in 1901, also Green eyed Monster.
Whilst speaking of Tintagel, it may be remembered that he sired a charming litter exhibited by Mrs Poole, which were first at the National Cat Club show at the Crystal Palace, and one of which won as a single kitten at the Botanic Gardens in 1902.
Other famous progeny of Silver Lambkin are Silver Mist, Watership Caesar, who won the gold medal at Boston, USA, for the best cat in the show 1902. Silver Tod Sloan, Silver Owl, Mrs. Bluhm's Silver Lily, Silver Squire, and Mowgli, the last named bred by Mrs. Dunderdale, but later the property of Mrs. Smyth of Forest Hill, one of the most enthusiastic admirers of chinchillas, who has in her possession the stuffed figure of Beauty.
A chinchilla that gained a considerable notoriety was Sweet Lavender, the property of Mr. Hawkins. This was a beautiful specimen very light in colour The latter was also a distinctive feature of the Hon. Mrs. McLaren Morrison's Ameer, a son of Lambkin Queen, who stands prominently forward as one of the most perfect of his kind. Mrs. Martin's St. Anthony, whose name appears in the pedigrees of several winners is a brother of Ameer.
As the sire of Lady Decies Champion Fulmer Zaida, the most lovely chinchilla female that has ever been seen, Silver Laddie who is now unfortunately gone to his happy hunting grounds can claim to have been one of the most noted of sires, more particularly as he was also the father of many others of great value, prominent amongst which were Miss Horsman's Aramis, Miss Snell's Starlight Silver, Cherub, Lady of Quality, one of the most perfect chinchillas ever bred. Charterhouse Pixie the dam of Miss White Atkin's Tod Sloan and numberless others.
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