The Robbers Squeak

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The Robbers Squeak from Pams-Pictorama.com collection

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The Robbers Squeak from Pams-Pictorama.com collection

 

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I purchased this volume after researching another book I wrote about recently, Lady Pussy-Cat’s Ball, which featured illustrations by the more than capable artist A.M. Lockyer. This volume however credits only Mr. Lockyer so we must assume that it is not only illustrated by him, but that the story, written entirely in verse, is as well. (There is a song over several pages, Sergeant Sleek’s Song, with music and three verses in the middle of the book. However, words are credited to G.E I. and music by F.R. Cox. A casual search did not turn up any information on them.)

The book’s story is an odd one – and considering I featured dogs yesterday it is a bit shocking that I go out way out on a Pictorama limb and feature mice today, because this is indeed a story of mice. They are both the heroes and the villains of this story, which it should be noted, is a stretch for children, at least as we see children’s stories today. It is a tale of mice who are a marauding band of thieves, stealing feasts of food, but eventually kidnapping a beautiful girl kitten they adore. The image below is when Momma cat comes calling for her little girl kit. This interaction with maternal cat love reforms them and they turn over a new leaf and become monastic mice – who occasionally tell tales of the days of yore.

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The Robbers Squeak from Pams-Pictorama.com collection

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The Robbers Squeak from Pams-Pictorama.com collection

 

As best I can tell, it was published in 1889 – there is no copyright information in the book, although the publisher is noted as Marcus Ward & Co Limited, London, Belfast & New York. Given the availability of the book even now, it must have been relatively popular. The illustrations are beautifully executed, even if the story is a bit odd. Meanwhile, anthropomorphic cats and other animals seem to be A.M. Lockyer’s bread and butter and I have my eye out for other books by him – in particular on called The Cat Concert. I have yet to find a biography of him, although there is no shortage of his illustrations available when you search on his name.

The story of cat and mouse is one that goes back to the beginning of a certain kind of story telling as we know it. It starts with illustrated books and eventually winds its way to Felix and Farmer Alfalfa cartoons and beyond. It is of course an old, old story from life itself – going back to the domestication of our feline friends. Just this morning, as I sat on the phone during an out of the ordinary Sunday morning call for work, I noticed Cookie and Blackie united in an investigation under Kim’s desk. Despite being litter mates, our duo rarely unite in any effort so it is notable. As I attempted to carry on my conversation with the volunteer in Florida the cats chattered and meowed to each other about something under the desk. (Kim wasn’t home and I could not investigate.) By the time the call ended, the cats had tussled with each other and subsequently retreated to their own perches, but of course I do wonder what they saw, or thought they saw.

Living in a many decades old building in New York City generally means you have rodents (and roaches) and it is merely a question of keeping them at bay. To date just the presence of the cats, and their predecessors, have influenced the rodents to bypass us as a stop along the way as they search for food and fun. Still, you never know when a little mousie fellow or gal takes a wrong turn, or decides that they can take on the big guys, much like The Robbers Squeak. Even if I do not, Cookie and Blackie, meanwhile, live in anticipation.

 

Feelin’ Bully!

Pam’s Pictorama Post: It’s a dog day here at Pictorama. This postcard came to me via the gentleman from whom I purchased the series of Felix tintypes all of one group, back in December. (I wrote about them back in December in my post Echo Point, Katoomba.) Having visited Pictorama and made a killing on those tintypes, he came back with photos of other cat postcards he had purchased from the same fellow. None of them interested me much except this one which somehow ended up in the bunch and, despite its obvious dogginess, it appealed and I purchased it.

The postmark on this card is incomplete and only Fremont is clear. There are Fremonts in a dozen states, but I can just about make out the abbreviated Nebraska in the postmark, further confirmed by the Nebraska of the recipient. All we know from the date is Nov 23, 8 AM without a year, but we can assume from the spats, watch fob, diamond tie pin and cufflinks, sported along with other bits of timely garb that this fellow hales from the earliest part of the 20th century. He’s just so jolly. That’s what appealed to me and this one may end up in my office to cheer me on my more dubious days. This bulldog is all self-confidence. He has the world on a string, he does, chomping on a big old cigar with is hands in his pockets! Show ’em how it’s done!

The back of the card, shown below, entertained me further when the card arrived as it seems to be correspondence between two fellows in the postcard business. Addressed to Mr. Harry Tronschel, Humphrey reads as follows, Received your letter today. Will send letter. Will you please try once more to collect that bill for the post cards of that section gang for use? I need the money. Gee, you fellows must be awful busy in turning out so many pictures in one week. Mel. Visions of a thriving photo postcard business immediately spring to my mind.

I will put this card someplace where I can see it often, a frequent reminder that a certain kind of swagger can carry you through a dog day.

 

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