3 Little Kittens


Pam’s Pictorama Post: This wonderful little tidbit was a gift from my friend Eileen Travell – and it is a perfect addition to the Pictorama library of cat literature, toys, phots and collectibles. I read that the original poem is an English nursery rhyme with roots in British folk lore. The poem as it is generally known today is attributed to Eliza Lee Cabot Follen, an American writer (1787–1860), first published in 1843, but finding its way to the Mother Goose canon over time. This edition is of the poem updated further and modernized for the 1923 publication by Ruth Kauffman. On the inside flap of this copy there is an undated inscription by an earlier owner, Alma Richarde, in uneven but very legible print.

Not much can be found about Ruth Kauffman beyond this volume – although it should be said that must have been a wildly popular book as many copies are available on the internet today. It would appear that Ms. Kauffman was married to Reginald Wright Kauffman, author and journalist; his work generally pertaining to social causes of the day. As for Ruth, her slim volume of The Three Little Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens seems to be what she is remembered for today. I could find nothing else attributed to her – or an author with her name spelled this way.


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Her 1923 version of the Kitten Mitten story has the mama cat warning her kits of the great, big world. Of streets and motor-cars, of wayward baseballs and of stones that make a cat see stars. Mama cat further tells them to keep themselves and the “clothes” tidy – their wardrobe consisting of little jackets, shoes and of course mittens, in this case mits that matched each Kitten’s hair. I’ve never been sure why kittens needed mittens, nor for that matter why small children needed them beyond winter weather protection – and these seem to be indoor/outdoor mittens. (Meanwhile, cat mittens turns up some alarming images of contemporary be-mittened cats. No idea why anyone would do that to a cat.) Cookie as a tuxedo has permanent, nice, bright white mittens – those are the kind I like best on kittens.

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Although she doesn’t appear to even rate a Wikipedia entry, the illustrator Margaret Campbell Hoopes’s has illustrated books which appear to do brisk business on antiquarian book sites. Born in 1893 (d. 1956) she studied at the Philadelphia School of Industrial Arts and she and her Florence sister achieved success as illustrators of their day. Their combined work seems to be best known for something called the Alice & Jerry readers of the 1930’s – these have escaped my notice until now. However, in addition to my slim volume, I find illustrated editions of Peter Rabbit, A Child’s Garden of Verses, and many copies of something called I Don’t Want to Go to Bed. (There’s a handsome Puss ‘n Boots that maybe I need to own.) I found a fellow blogger searching for information about Margaret and her sister back in 2008. There needs to be more information on these gifted illustrators.

I do love her illustrations in this book. The cats are just the right combination of anthropomorphic and true feline. The three kittens, Tortoise-shell, Silver-fur and White, are sent out to play while Mama has to bake a pie, and cook some mice that I have caught, So you must just amuse yourselves, but – wear the mits I bought. Out they go and there they skipped about and sang, and bit their tails in play, and turned the cutest somersaults; you know a kitten’s way.


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Lastly of note is the owner of the interesting shop where Eileen found and purchase this nifty little book. Sally Brillon, along with her husband Joe, is the owner of 1786 Wilson Homestead (1117 Chamberlin Mill Road, Salem, NY; their website which can be found here) and the photos of the Hutchinson’s shop in a barn intrigued me before I knew Eileen had procured this book for me. In addition to books and antiques, until recently she also taught cooking on a hearth, something for those with a fireplace and the inclination.


Sally in her shop.


Andrew, did you buy the top hat?

Should the winds of chance take me to Salem, New York, I will be anxious to stop in and spend a few hours digging around. Who knows what cat related gems must lurk in those piles.

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Joyful kittens at the end of the book!

Fabulous Flash


Pam’s Pictorama Post: Let me begin with some full disclosure – the above ring is not the ring Kim gave me a few years ago. This ring was a door prize at the Met’s Met Family Circle pajama party recently – however it reminds me fondly of a light up ring he gave me a few years back. This one has a nice fancy bat design (I admit that with my single track mind I thought cat at first!) – the earlier one is shown below.


Kim and I share a passion for things that light up. For my part I have given him several variations on bouncy balls that light in bright colors when they hit the ground. I believe the first came from the store at SF MoMA years ago, when I was on a business trip. The cats have shared Kim’s enjoyment of all of these and ultimately spirited them away. The ring Kim bought me was discovered at the Museum of Modern Art here in New York, in the shop one evening while we were killing time between early German film features at the museum. I loved it and subsequently bought them for many people on my Christmas list that year.

All of these LED light up toys are by their very nature, sadly, ephemeral. Perhaps it is part of their charm as well. This Christmas I found tiny “fairy” lights and decorated a stuffed cat in my office with them as a nod to the holiday season. For those of you who have Amazon Prime and are still scrambling this holiday season, I offer the links below. Maybe a light up toy is exactly what you or the person on your shopping list really needs this year.




A Small Gift for Kim

Pam’s Pictorama Post: A few weeks ago, right before my foot surgery, I was in East Hampton as described in my post Operculum about some seashell collecting that went on out there. Before heading back to Manhattan we stopped at a sale, held some sort of a town hall building. It was generally pretty upscale (no surprise there) and consisted largely of antique furniture, silver and some high-end vintage jewelry. (I just barely contained myself on that score – it is another weakness.) However, low and behold, for no particular reason someone was selling a whole jar of these. There were numerous giant insects one could choose from, but somehow this big, gorgeously colored beetle struck me as a perfect gift for Kim.

It is encased in a plastic material and if you look carefully you can see a little stand that came with it. Cookie was very interested in making it her own – she is a cat that enjoys balls and will bat them around by herself, making up cat games. However, we have decided that this one is ours and we’d like to keep it pristine.

For no discernible reason that I can explain, I have been buying Kim variations on this for years. I guess it is my own fascination – things encased in plastic and interesting bouncing balls – but he seems to admire them as well. Generally, I find ones that are really meant for bouncing – there were a number of different ones that light up when you bounce them – we all enjoyed those and I buy them whenever I see them. In turn, Kim purchased a ring that lights up for me which I enjoyed tremendously.

Another, an anniversary gift that we have attempted to keep from Cookie, is the mermaid below. To be honest, she is stealing it from me even as I write this as I have it off a shelve to photograph it to show you. Bad kitty!

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