Cat Chair Cont.

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Returning today, as I ultimately always do to cat related photos, I share this great photo postcard I recently added to the Pictorama collection. I always consider these cards of folks perched on a giant cat especially good finds – perhaps even as beloved as my collection of photo postcards of folks posing with giant Felix the cat dolls, a find in this category to add to my small holdings of these is a reason for celebration here at Pictorama. They are an extremely jolly and jaunty variation and always find a place of pride on our crowded walls.

A careful look at the other versions I have hanging on the wall confirm that this is likely a different giant cat than the others – although the variations are very small, like the size of the eyes or nose. As for location, I have every reason to believe that is different too, although similar as these, like the Felix cards, always seem to be photos taken at the beach resorts, usually in Britain. (Although I have a number of examples taken in Katoomba, Australia, as well and at least one series showing such a Felix in Kuala Lumpur, below, where he appears to be directing traffic. Those posts can be found here and here.)

Pams-Pictorama.com collection

Today’s card was never sent, but J. Easton, Clifton Paths, Margate is printed at the top of the back, along with (Extra copies please quote number.)

Impressively Margate’s history as a seaside destination for health and recreation dates all the way back to the 1750’s. An early photo of the cliffs referred to in Clifton Paths, are very dramatic, high cliffs in dramatic relief to the beach below which I assume are still in situ today. During this early 20th century period the area and its Dreamland amusement pier and beach were likely reaching a zenith of popularity for the sort of seaside retreat the British became known for. Another photo taken at Margate in my collection is below and the post can be read here.

Margate holiday photo, Pams-Pictorama.com collection

Meanwhile, this youngster seems remarkably unimpressed with his perch – ungrateful child! I would love to swap places with him for this pic. His expression and body language, hands on hips, say it all and the language of small boys remains legible decades later – come on and take your stupid picture already! One imagines that a small child would have to be lifted atop of this large and wonderful kitty.

This photo below was also taken in Margate and identified as being in Cliftonville which seems to be adjoining or the same resort. This could be the same kitty, just a bit older in this photo. (That post, published on my birthday in 2017, can be read here.) The precise location seems to be different and this one does not have Mr. Easton’s logo so my guess is they were most likely competitors.

Cat Chair Photo, collection Pams-Pictorama.com

These kitties (Are they the same manufacturer? They look like Steiff toys but I can find no tracks to confirm they actually were produced by them) each seems to have the same little tongue sticking out, which always looks like a nose ring to me at first glance – here it looks like white beads or tufts outline the tongue. Most kitty chairs have a bow or a collar similar to this one, and many have white outlines defining the toes. Oh how I would love to see one in person!

Unlike some of the Felix figures, which even when their size approached that of small human probably allowed for the tucking under the arm and moving about, which means they are sometimes tatty compared with the apparent pristine of this fellow which somehow looks like he mostly stayed put – just being tucked away in the evenings or on rainy days. It appears to be an overcast day and the legions of beach chairs lined up behind them are all empty. Apartment buildings line the area, which I am figuring overlooks the water, as far as the eye can see here. There may be some vendors with stalls, likely on a boardwalk there. A sun spot has marked the photo there so it is a bit hard to see. Mr. Easton, photographer, has a tiny brand mark in the lower left corner. I wish I could find out a bit about his business but my research skills seem to be inadequate to do so.

While several of the photos I have of small children posing with an imposing Felix often larger than themselves occasionally look a tad worried or concerned, this cranky fellow is the only kid in my collection who is not enjoying his time on the giant black cat. I share some women who know how to have a good time on a black cat below – this photo lives on my site, but somehow there has never been a post devoted to it which it certainly deserves. They know how to have a good time. Go girls, go!

Pams-Pictorama.com collection

Austin Family

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Ah yes, the bread and butter of a Pictorama Post! Next to someone sidling up to a giant Felix doll, it is the happiest of days when one of these photos joins the Pictorama collection. This particular card had an odd listing and I stumbled across it on eBay, quickly snatching it up. On the back it reads, printed in pencil, Austin Family, East Dulwich, 1920’s? (It seems sad to me that a subsequent generation appears to have marked the card, yet it fell out of the family anyway.) Having lived in London, I was surprised to discover that East Dulwich is considered a district of SE London. I am not familiar with it and did not get to know it’s beach-y enclave shown here. Oddly, it seems to be ringed by these four story apartment buildings – not quite what one thinks of as resort area housing. When I lived in London in the mid-1980’s I believe this was an economically downtrodden area that was just beginning to be seen as an area for potential revitalization, and I believe South London has changed substantially in the following decades. Happy, striped beach chairs are lined up and in distance I believe changing tents, made of canvas, are also set up.

Meanwhile, the Austins are prosperous looking in their 1920’s holiday togs, complete with hats. The woman looks pleased, if somewhat embarrassed, by her cat chair perch and the child looks fairly delighted. This kitty has nice whiskers and is sticking his tongue out in a sort of cheeky way. He has little claws on his paws and a fluffy tail that sticks straight up. A note of interest to me (albeit perhaps less for the majority of you) is that this cat seems to be held up by a metal stand – none of my other giant cats seems to feature that. It also fascinates me that every single one of the photos I have with these “cat chairs” appears to be a different design of big black cat. How is that possible? The Felix-es, while a variety of sizes and somewhat individual in appearance as Felix toys of the day appeared to be, at least looked as if they could have been churned out of one, or maybe two, shops. Every single one of the half dozen or so of these others I own, show substantially different cat design – different eyes, made from a variety of materials, fluffy tail versus not, etc. (See prior posts, The Giant Cat ChairRiding the Big Kitty and Big Kitty.) So, were individuals just whipping these up on a whim? Hard to say. Clearly this Big Kitty design is a bit tippy – therefore, the metal stand. I assume if I stay in the business of collecting these long enough I will start to get some repeaters.

Printed on the back of this card is J. EASTON, Clifton Baths & Bathing Pool “Snaps” Cliftonville, when re-ordering please quote number. Oddly, I don’t believe I have seen such organized information on the back of one of these cards about the photo company that took and produced these cards. This card has been enhanced by the Photoshop skills of Mr. Deitch. It is a low contrast, sepia original. I wonder if it is too late to write and ask J. Easton for another copy of 476, perhaps printed a bit darker this time?

 

 

Riding the Big Kitty

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: We’re having a stop the presses moment here at Pictorama to bring you this latest acquisition. I initiated this blog as a way to bring some order to my photo postcard collection of people posing with outsized Felix the Cat dolls, other Felix related photos, and the even more rarified people atop of giant stuffed black cat photos. (For two earlier posts you can have a look at the very early Cat Chair or the more recent Cat Chair (episode 2) ) For those of you who have been on board for a bit you are probably aware that the blog has instead rambled, stretched and rolled in many directions to include toys and all sorts of personal whims. However, we here at Pam’s Pictorama still drop everything for the inauguration of these photos. They rarely come cheap, but after all, that is what we are here for!

Today’s photo has an especially great cat. I adore the agape and almost bejeweled looking kitty mouth, highlighted claw paws, white whiskers and a stitched nose which looks like a great arrow pointing down to that mouth! This cat has pop eyes, outsized bat-like ears and the very most glorious and enormous tail I have ever seen on one of these fellows. He is an extraordinary specimen. Not at all worn-out looking, this one is fresh and handsome. Another appealing aspect of this photo is this little girl. I don’t think even I could enjoy it more than she is. (Although I would love to try of course.) Children do not always embrace these opportunities appropriately, and they often look confused or generally put out by the experience. Not this kid – she’s astride this kitty and she’s got a great grin on her face. Her white strappy Mary Janes and outfit provide an excellent contrast to kitty’s black surface.

Like most souvenir photos of this type, this photo was not mailed. There is no writing on the back and, like all of the cards of this kind I own, this one came from Great Britain. (I have come to assume that giant cat chair photo opportunities were only available in Britain. Please do let me know if you have different information.) Looking at the background, and not being an expert in flora, I guess it is probably a seaside resort or amusement park.

While I am not sure where I would put it in our studio apartment, (get rid of the couch?) I do nevertheless dream that these giant stuffed cats and their Felix counterparts are extant somewhere and that one day I will acquire them. A girl’s gotta dream, right?

Cat Chair (episode 2)

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: My constant searching for photos of people posing with Felix has also introduced me to what turned out to be a broader world of people posing with a variety of novel things. As readers of Pictorama know, the souvenir photo postcard operation of the 1920’s and beyond could focus around a stuffed Mickey Mouse, Felix, Spark Plug (Barney Google’s horse) and these very large black cats. In one of my earliest posts I featured the first of these cards I purchased – Giant Cat Chair. I own three cat chair photos altogether and would love to acquire more, but they appear quite rarely. One of the most noteworthy things is that the cat is definitely a different one in each so there was a number of places – all of these from Britain – where you could pose with a big cat chair. This one appears to be a smallish-large cat chair – just the right size for this little tyke – and the tongue sticking out is different than any of the others I have. Also, this one has the remarkable feature of his tail sticking straight up in the air. This one looks the most of all like a Steiff toy cat, but very, extra large.

The card itself is smaller than regulation size postcard, closer to a photograph than a photo postcard, but postal ready on the back. The writing on the back (which was never sent) appears to say Alan 18 month Cliftonville 192. (I wonder if they meant to write 1920? If so, it is a bit of a sobering thought to consider that little Alan would have been old enough to fight for England in WWII.) Cliftonville is hard to read, but likely since that appears to be a seaside area in Margate. While having a fast look at images from Cliftonville I found this rather splendid image on Reddit of a beauty contest in Cliftonville in 1936.

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Beauty Contest, Cliftonville, England 1936

 

Despite the glories of the seaside park in general, the general background of this card is a bit tatty. The wooden building behind little Alan is sort of interesting, with a bit of gingerbread design on it, but in the distance we see an iron fence and a large building that appears to be an apartment house. In general, if a seaside resort, the area they have chosen for cat chair photos is a bit down at the heels and sad. The kid, Alan, is well dressed, (I love the little belt on his top) is well turned out and clearly enjoying a holiday or special day at the shore.

Tatty scenery or not, I would have loved to have my photo taken astride this kitty – and it would be a tight fit, but he’d look pretty good in my living room today as well for that matter should he turn up on eBay one of these days.