Scissors & Synths

Creative endeavors every M-W-F.

Lolcats of the 1800’s

From researching vintage hat ads for last year’s hat-themed office party, I discovered the Antique Cat Photos Pool in Flickr. Old photos are great, but old cat photos? Even better!

Here are a few of my favorites:

1800s lolcats in Scissors and Synths

There’s a lot of anthropomorphized animals in the pool, too, like this banjo-playing cat. From its caption, I learned about a photographer from the UK, Harry Pointer (1822-1889).

Cat Playing a Banjo Cabinet Card **Other Cat Photographic Models!

You can read all about him in the Sussex Photo History site. Here’s a short excerpt:

“During the 1870s, the Brighton photographer Harry Pointer became well known for a series of carte-de-visite photographs which featured his pet cats. Pointer often arranged his cats in unusual poses that mimicked human activities – a cat riding a tricycle, cats roller-skating and even a cat taking a photograph with a camera. Harry Pointer soon realised that even a relatively straight-forward cat photograph could be turned into an amusing or appealing image by adding a written caption. Harry Pointer’s series of cat photographs were collectively known as “The Brighton Cats”. The Photographic News reported that, by 1884, Pointer had published about two hundred pictures in “The Brighton Cats” series.”

Lolcats of the 1800’s?!

1800s lolcats in Scissors and Synths

1800s lolcats in Scissors and Synths

1800s lolcats in Scissors and Synths

Another photographer (also named Harry!), Harry Whittier Frees (1879–1953) from the US, took it to the next level, with more intricate sets and props. He also included other animals like dogs, pigs and rabbits.

An excerpt from his wiki entry:

“He dressed the animals and posed them in human situations with props, often with captions; these can be seen as progenitors of modern lolcats.”

1800s lolcats in Scissors and Synths

1800s lolcats in Scissors and Synths

1800s lolcats in Scissors and Synths

1800s lolcats in Scissors and Synths

His photos were used in postcards and children’s books. I love the names – The Bufkins, The Barkers, Prowler, Purra, and Toodles.

1800s lolcats in Scissors and Synths

I just hope that the animals weren’t too annoyed (or hurt!). I’d like to think that both Harry’s were drawn to photographing animals because they loved being around them.

An excerpt from Life Magazine, dated March 1937, on Frees:

“Mr. Frees attributes his success to kindly treatment of his models and a sixth sense about animals. He makes exposures at 1/5th of a second, has to junk two thirds of his negatives.

“Though Mr. Frees makes a good living out of his lifework, he finds it so nerve-racking that he only works three months a year. The rest of the time he recuperates and thinks of new situations for his pictures.”

See more of Frees’ work here.

My favorite modern anthropomorphized cats are Jetoy’s Choo Choo Cats. They’re uber cute illustrations by the Korean brand.


This is my 2013 calendar from my sister Mo.


We discovered the brand in 2009 in a Bangkok mall. Got more goodies from trips to Japan… And in recent years, from Landmark and National Bookstore! For a dog owner, I have a lot of cat stuff.


The pen and sticky notes also from Mo! We ❤ kittehs.


– Jo


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This entry was posted on February 6, 2013 by in Random Wednesdays and tagged , , .
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