Rags

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: As I mentioned yesterday, the scanner here at Deitch Studio has made a permanent exit. It didn’t really owe us much as it was acquired in 2007 according to our Amazon records and survived a couple of Deitch publications in their entirety – of course not just the finished products requiring huge files of high resolution scans, but the many stages of sketches, not to mention this blog and the daily demands made of any scanner. It died halfway through a scan of the back cover of Kim’s next book, almost but not quite making that final last gasp. RIP old friend.

Mr. Deitch’s requirements of size and resolution make replacing this piece of equipment a somewhat more complex matter than it would appear – as I understand it, the model we currently have (a direct descendent of the only kind we have ever owned) was designed for things like scanning x-rays than with cartoonists necessarily in mind. The scanner in question is no longer produced (of course!) but as I am in charge of technology here at Deitch Studio I have taken it under advisement and I am researching a replacement.

Meanwhile today, I present a recent acquisition via the photo the seller supplied. Rags, the Famous Rotograph Cat turns out to have been a hard working little fellow. From kittenhood he was dressed up and posed – in tiny men’s suits, baby clothes, a dunce cap and the like, or in juxtaposition with baby chicks, bunnies or other small animals that a cat like Rags was perhaps more interested in snacking on. Looking at this scrappy little tabby fellow, I have to assume that while he would have preferred a life of leisure, however despite certain indignities, his days as a photo model, (hopefully) complete with meals and a warm, dry place to live was preferable to what many of his cohorts could opt into.

From the accounts I can find of the Rotograph Company, it would appear that Rags was a fellow resident of Manhattan. Situated at 684 Broadway from 1904-1911, the Rotograph Company inhabited a handsome building near Fourth Street which, according to Google Earth photos, appears largely intact from that period today. For some reason Kim and I both got Rotograph and Rotography all mixed up with photogravure (a photo intalglio print making process) and instead it appears these folks just made this name up. In fact their line of photo postcards were indeed real photos (as per a tiny printed boast on the back bottom of the card) either produced directly for sale or made as commercial items for others. During their brief existence they coughed out more than 6,000 cards, many which are actively resold today. This particular card was mailed from Niagara Falls, NY on the afternoon of July 30, 1907 and arrived in North Sterling, Ohio on August 1 at 6 AM.

When I reflect on working animals I tend to think that dogs (at least many of them) enjoy having a job. It seems to me that a dog in films is having a glorious time of being put through his or her paces with a master or mistress lurking just behind the camera, rewards in hand. It is the same instinct that makes them herd sheep well. They like to hang out with the humans and be a part of something. It is difficult to imagine cats as anything but more diffident to such a role. However from what I read, evidently with enough of the right cat treats many cats are willing to sing for their supper as well and do so in films and performance venues. The question of if they enjoy it hangs unanswered. While I occasionally remind Cookie and Blackie that they have “jobs” this usually means curling up on the bed with me when I am under the weather or allowing me to pick them up and “kiss their little cat face” – which they hate of course, but it is after all, work.

On Instagram I follow a heavy set tabby with the moniker Larry the Security Cat who is a rescue living in a thriftstore called BLUvintage in Delaware. I only recently realized he has a broken paw which has healed quite crooked and is evidence that he had a rough early life on the street. It would appear that his duties these days are light – largely confined to pets, chin rubs and posing with strangers. He posts frequently and has over 7,200 followers. I found him via a mention in the New York Times. It seems like the right amount of genteel work for this fellow and a good trade-off to end a hard life on the street.

Meanwhile, our friend Rags appears to have gone onto star in his own book, Kittens and Cats in 1911. It is my hope the residuals were enough for him to retire on at that point.

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Cookie, posing in her best Rags imitation yesterday, and on Blackie’s cushion, which she stole.

 

Today a shout out to fellow feline blogger Historical Felines for their post on Rags which helped inform today’s post and can be found in its entirety at Aristocat!

 

Cat Show…Next

cat-show

Pam’s Pictorama: Okay, so you might think this is sort of crazy, but I have wanted this photo for a very long time! The first time I lost it for a very high sum, outbid on eBay in a sniping dogfight. The second time, the card had some blue ink writing on it which was disappointing, but I did bid – and was again, outbid for a sizable sum. Strangely, almost immediately, this fairly pristine copy turned up…for very little. I bid…and won! It was a very good day to be a cat card collector.

I don’t know exactly why I kept going to war to get this card, but I am not disappointed. The pretty woman, holding this fine specimen of a dog, both posing for the camera, appear to be coming from the dog show. One wonders if Cat Show Next means this way or next week, for example.  Then, down at the bottom where I didn’t notice it for a long time, in tiny white drop out print Beastly Affairs. And apropos of nothing, can I just note how much I love this woman’s whacky hat? It is like a tiny, flowering garden perched on her head.

This card was mailed on September 9, 1909! It arrived in my mailbox almost exactly 107 years after it was originally postmarked in Winthrop, MA. In a not especially neat hand, written on the back is, I see Alic [sic] today and addressed simply, Mr. Gilford Martin, Amherst, New Hampshire. Also on the back the following is printed at the bottom, This card is a REAL PHOTOGRAPH on bromide paper. The Rotograph Co., N.Y. City, Printed in England.

For whatever reason, this photo also reminds me of one of my favorite Our Gang shorts, the one with Pete and the dog show, Pups is Pups which of course ends with dozens of dogs let loose and racing around in a wonderful doggy melee. The kind which is magnificent onscreen, but would of course, be quite something else in reality. Speaking of reality, while looking for the link to Pups is Pups above, I found this very nifty short of Pete with his trainer which I had never seen. Enjoy! Pete Rare Training Film, Little Rascals’ Pete the Pup