This is the Thirtieth Anniversary of the CFA Yearbook – and you’ve come a long way baby… Yearbook, CFA and – SILVER Persians!
The first “Year Book” was six by nine inches with fewer than 130 pages. There were eig hty-six clubs in CFA at that time and in 1958 sever cats earned their grand championships. There were no silvers included in the 1958 Grand Parade. And silvers, exhibited in large classes, were beautiful though very different from those we see today.
Silver breeding and showing procedures have changed considerably in thirty years. Campaigning was unknown in the late fifties and most breeders attended only local shows and frequently it took several seasons of showing to grand a cat. Breeding was also done on a more local level. Breeders tended to buy, and to breed to, cats in their own vicinity. Many cats were not shown until they were more mature and studs tended to be used for many years. For that reason, improvement in type was somewhat slower than in current-day breeding programs.
Many people, thinking of silvers, think of American lines based on those imported from England. Few realize the number of fine silvers exported to England. One of the first was CH Silver Mesa Apache. Imported by Mollie Turney, Apache is in many Bonavia pedigrees today, as well as in back of Gray-Ivy, Walnut Hill and Wee Heather cats and those descended from these lines. Also in back of Wee Heather silvers were Mell Russell’s lovely Las Montanas cats. By the late fifties, Las Montanas silvers had been among the best for many years. GC Las Montanas Silver Thistle of Gar-Le was born in 1952 but was still a leading stud in 1958 and later; he sired many regional winners. The Silver Mesa cats of Mrs. Harold Webb were famous cats of this time. GC Silver Mesa Sir Valiant and GC Silver Mesa Miss Pixyanne were littermates born in 1953; they produced top silvers for many years thereafter. Another lovely old cat was Sir Ronelore of Silver Mesa. Born in 1954, he had a somewhat “newer look” and sired into the sixties. We still see some Silver Mesa names in our current pedigrees. Another very important early line of silvers were Mrs. Alfred Townsend’s Bonnie Silvers which were behind the best silvers in the East, prior to her move to California. Beverly-Serrano (named for the corner in Hollywood where they lived at the time) was originally the cattery of Jessie and Ione Hazlet. Later, Vivian Peterson took over and continued breeding fine silvers and still later, Jeanne Ramsdale continued breeding those silvers along with her Dearheart silvers. Dearheart was established with silvers from local lines of that time.
While these lines were being founded in California, the late Mrs. William Bean began breeding silvers in New York. The Bean Ridge cats were first bred from top Eastern lines. It was always Connie Bean’s practice to add to her cattery from currently winning lines. She purchased GC Cashmere Feather of Bean Ridge as a kitten from the Cashmere cattery of Agnes Mahoney. Cashmere was a Midwest cattery, so naturally had a great influence on silvers in this area, including Braves, Gay-Purree, Mary Crary and Mata-Blue Catteries, none of which are breeding silvers today. A long-established cattery in the south was the Citrus Ridge line of Mrs. Arthur Smith, breeding silvers in Florida since 1928. Beginning in 1954, Mrs. Sally Kisler in Louisiana produced many fine silvers; her cattery name was Chateau Chat.
CH Gray-Ivy Aladdin is a name still prominent in many pedigrees. He was born in 1956 and sired at least eleven Grand Champions – quite a record for his time. Gray-Ivy Cattery came into being by accident. Grace and Ivan Over were given a kitten, Mitzi, from Kerry Lu breeding. Mitzi was bred to her sire to have “just one litter” before being spayed, and the kitten was kept (many of us have begun this same way!). Later Mitzi was bred to the imported Fanfare of Allington and produced Aladdin, who was to be so important not only to Gray-Ivy, but later to Walnut Hill and the entire Silver Fancy. Many believe that Aladdin contributed more to American-bred silvers than any other single cat. When Aladdin was bred to a female from Silver Mesa/Bama Crest breeding, he sired Wee Heather Holly Ann. Holly Ann bred back to Aladdin produced many fine silvers. Among them was GC Gray-Ivy Winsome, the first “Distinguished Merit” silver. Later, breedings between Winsome and GC Gray-Ivy Ron-D-Voo consistently produced outstanding silvers which not only firmly established Gray-Ivy, but also started the California catteries of Care-Y, Eee-Dee, Fayron, Sanskrit and many others on their way as silver breeders.
Doris Weston, of Walnut Hill fame, is another breeder who has been involved with silvers for more than twenty-five years. She began her Walnut Hill line with two Silver Mesa females and then bought CH Las Lomas Man About Town as a mate for them. A breeding between Man About Town and his mother, CH Silver Mesa Miss Pixie, produced GC Las Lomas Julio of Walnut Hill. Another daughter bred to Man About Town produced the first Walnut Hill grand champion, Delight. While Delight did well at the shows, it was her sister who stayed home and produced fantastic kittens. The breeding between Walnut Hill Sweet Sue and CH Gray-Ivy Aladdin was repeated three times, with most of the offspring winning the title of Grand Champion. Of these kittens, GC Walnut Hill Rondo eventually became the main stud for Walnut Hill, and remained so for sixteen years. A later breeding of Rondo to Gray-Ivy Bo Peep’s Little Lamb produced GC Gray-Ivy Ron-D-Voo, whose breedings to Winsome produced so many Best-In-Show silvers and earned her DM title. Sweet Sue died with the birth of her third litter, but in that litter was the kitten which made Diadem “The House that Pride Built”: GC Walnut-Hill Pride of Gray-Ivy.
In the late fifties, another Allington cat was imported: Francis of Allington. Born in 1957 and used extensively on the West Coast, he was probably one of the last Allington cats to be imported. In fact, he was probably one of the last English imports. Now the situation has been reversed, many American silvers have been and are being exported to England.
When I became interested in silvers in the early 1960’s, there were certain cats I fell in love with, and GC Lomas Lomas Julio of Walnut Hill was one. He was born in 1959 and was proof that silvers did not have to be chinchilla to be outstanding, though most of the top cats in the early days were chinchillas. In 1959, GC Co-Mc’s Silver Cherub was the big winner. Earlier, most of the top winning silvers were males, and while Julio had a very strong, male look, Cherub definitely had the pretty, yet typy, look that has maintained the popularity of the silvers.
One also cannot talk about the background of today’s winning silvers without mentioning Mrs. James Mood and the many lovely Delphi silvers. Fannie Mood was a “breeder’s breeder” and there are few top breeders around today without at least a little of the Delphi line somewhere in their pedigrees. This cattery was established in 1938, but as Fannie was the CFA recorder from 1941 until 1947 and again from 1950 until 1957, her duties as recorder made breeding impossible. Delphi resumed breeding after returning to California, where Delphi silvers further influenced – and were influenced by – California silvers. Among the many catteries based on Delphi were the Kitza silvers of Mrs. Ursula Zuest, and through these cats, Ga-Mor, Northbrook, Starlet Manor, Summerset, Tabrook, and Wicklow. Among others with a strong Delphi influence are Ana-Lan, Charlwood and Hillsbury.
The Silver story will be continued in Part 2 of this article, in the next issue…
Author, Janice Reichle, has been breeding Shaded Silver, Chinchilla and the occasional Golden Persian under the Diadem cattery name for more than 35 years.
While many Diadem Silvers have earned the title of Regional Winner, as well as having a National and Breed winner with GC, BW, NW Diadem Dilemma, Janice is most proud of her Distinguished Merit sire GC Diadem Personality Plus, DM, and what he has done for silvers.