Telling the story of Diadem was chosen as a way to introduce the many catteries not only in back of Diadem, but in back of many of the silvers here and abroad.
Diadem's beginnings in Silvers was somewhat different; I was a Siamese breeder whose only Persians were a blue-cream and a tortie. It was my mother who first fell in love with Silvers. She was so taken with them while attending shows with me that she began a long search for the right kitten, which ended at the Gray-Ivy Cattery of Grace and Ivan Over. She acquired a beautiful little shaded girl, Toireh Pary Winkle of Gray-Ivy, who at four months had exquisite deep green eye color which has faded very little, though she is now nearly eighteen years old. Pary was, and is, a very typey Silver, but her best feature is her broad tophead with tiny, well-set ears. Pary's sire and dam were both by CH Gray-Ivy Aladdin who is in the background of so many fine silvers today.
When the time came to breed Pary, we again approached Grace Over and fortunately she had a nice male kitten which she did not need because she had three other young, siring males: Aladdin, his son CH Gray-Ivy Paragon, and GC Gray-Ivy Ron-D-Voo. Though we were delighted to get this seven month old son of Aladdin, years passed before we realized how fortunate we were to have begun with this outstanding pair and how much Walnut Hill Pride of Gray-Ivy would, in time, mean to Diadem. Pride was an exceptional cat, not only because he had the chunky body and heavy bone of the Walnut Hill cats as well as the sweet nature, exquisite color and glamour of the Gray-Ivy cats, but also because he consistently passed on his excellent type to his offspring.
Beginning with this pair, I never had to give a thought to that big problem of most silver breeders - EARS! Both Pary and Pride did extremely well in the show ring, granding easily. Pride's first show was Empire which had the largest entry in the country that year. He went from Novice to Best Cat in two rings and Second Best Cat in the third ring. Breeders sympathized with us because he had not gone in as a champion; all those grand points were lost!
Although Grace Over sent us both of these kittens, neither carried the Gray-Ivy prefix. She planned the breeding which produced Pary and both kittens went to her because they were sired by her males. Gray-Ivy came into being by accident. The Overs were given a kitten, Mitzie, from Kerry Lu breeding. Mitzie was bred to her sire to have "just one litter" before being spayed and the kitten was kept. Later Mitzie 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 sire CH Wee Heather Holly Ann. Holly Ann bred back to Aladdin produced many fine silvers including GC Gray-Ivy Winsome. 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 Care-y, Eee-Dee, Fayron, Sanskrit and 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 in the shows, it was her sister who stayed home and produced fantastic kittens. The breeding between 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.
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 1966, our first grand champion, Diadem Pride’s Doll, was born. She was out of a Skyway female leased to us by the late Vi Schuh, well known for her excellent smokes and solids. The outstanding old lines of Citrus Ridge and Chateau-Chat were in back of this Skyway female. Mrs. Arthur Smith was a leading breeder of her time and began breeding her Citrus Ridge Silvers in Florida in 1928. She considered CH Citrus Ridge Pericles one of her best cats. He was bred out of strictly local cats bearing the cattery names of Rockmoor and Capensis. The Chateau-Chat cattery was established by Sally Kisler in 1954 in Louisiana. Though Mrs. Kisler’s cattery existed for little more than seven years, she bred on a large scale and produced many fine silvers including GC Chateau-Chat Le Magnifique and GC Chateau-Chat Le Petit Sir Echo.
Throughout her breeding life, Pary Winkle consistently produced such lovely kittens by Pride that we never felt the need to consider a different stud for her. Our only regret was that of all the kittens they produced, only two were females. It was in 1967 that Pary had these two females and Diadem’s next grands; a chinchilla who was named Diadem Sweet Memories, and a shaded, Diadem Dreamera who went to Lockestill Cattery where she is still producing lovely kittens.
With Pary and Pride, who had belonged to my mother and were now living with me, and with Pride’s Doll, we had the nucleus of an excellent silver breeding program. I was becoming quite serious about silvers. Considerable thought was given to other females in a wish to expand the breeding program. One of the lines which I admired was that of Ursula Zuest whose Kitza cats have influenced many of today's silvers.
Kitza was one of many catteries established with the fine Delphi lines of Mrs. James R. Mood. Ursula Zuest began with other Delphi cats, but the one to do the most for her was CH Delphi Deborah, who is in back of every cat out of the Kitza lines. She produced the first two Kitza grands: GC Kitza Silver Chief and GC Kitza Silver Cloud. Deborah excelled in qualities needed today by many silver – cobby body, heavy bone, and very deep, green eye color. Among others, Silver Cloud produced GC Kitza Duke of Marlboro who did so much to establish that cattery in silvers. Later Mrs. Zuest acquired Delphi Diana, who was the grand-daughter of a colorbred blue, GC Dixieland Queed of Azulita. Daughters and grandchildren of Diana granded, and it was this part of the line that began Jubilee Cattery in Canada. After many years of inbreeding and line-breeding, Ursula Zuest selected for an outcross a son of GC Walnut Hill Pride of Gray-Ivy – CH Sherdon Silver Dollar. From this breeding came GC Kitza Sweet Fella and it was this part of the line that helped to establish Tabrook, Starlet Manor, and Ga-Mor. Earlier Kitza lines also established Wicklow and Summerset. The latter, combined with Bean Ridge, in turn started the Northbrook Cattery.
In 1968, Ursula Zuest sent me a proven chinchilla female who was a full sister to GC Kitza Jerrilyn. Melissa was bred to Pride, and the female from that breeding – Diadem Melody – went to Wis-Purr Cattery. This was unfortunate because Melissa never had another female kitten. However, I was able to get a female kitten from Melissa’s daughter.
In the meantime, I had been corresponding with Mrs. James Mood. She is now retired, but while she was active she bred many lovely 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 breeding. Delphi Cattery was established in 1938 with Delicia of Pequosette. Pequosette was the cattery name of a well-known breeder of the thirties, Marion Hobbs. At that time, cattery names could be used as either a prefix or a suffix. Delicia was bred to GC Don Claire of Allington and produced four males and all later made their championships, no easy feat in those days. Shows were usually one judging, sometimes two, but points were allotted according to the number of cats competing. Ten points under three different judges were required for a championship. CH Delphi Don Juan from that litter was the first Delphi Cattery stud, later he went to the Kerry Lu Cattery in California. A brother went to the Kute Kit Cattery of Mabel Nack, another top cattery of that era.
Fannie Mood was CFA Recorder from 1941 until 1947 and from 1950 until 1957, during which time the duties of recorder made breeding impossible. Delphi resumed breeding after returning to California, where Delphi silvers further influenced – and were influenced by – California silvers. Somewhat later, CH Walnut Hill Pamper was acquired by Delphi and produced a lovely new look. When Mrs. Mood retired from breeding, her partner, Sophia Wyborney of Brentwood Cattery, took over for a time, but now that she has discontinued breeding, there will be no more silvers bearing the fine old Delphi prefix.
Other catteries which either began with, or were built around Delphi cats, are Hillsbury and Ana-Lan.
Diadem’s 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.