WAS THIS THE FIRST KORAT
TO BE SHOWN???
In most articles about the Korat there is some reference made to the blue cat shown at Holland House in London in the summer 1896. Most authors quote no source for this. It is something they have read about in other articles when looking for information and passed on. For serious historians and Korat lovers though isn't good enough. Is it just one of those handed down myths that have very little truth in them or are there any real facts?
The answer to that question is a definite YES to facts. Newspaper reports written about the cat at the time are on record. The owner registered him. However, the name Korat is never used and two alternative breeds are offered. I know what I think. It would be interesting to see what view others take after reading the evidence.
The register. (This still exists and is held by GCCF the UK's cat organisation. At the time it was operated by the National Cat Club (NCC) one of 4 clubs who formed GCCF in 1910). The record is thus;
May 1896 Nam Noi Male Siamese (parents not listed) Imported January 1895 owned by Mrs B Spearman.
In June 1896 Nam Noi went on show entered as a Siamese and according to the show report (entitled 'Around The Pens') attracted a lot of attention. He was put into the Siamese class. The reporter's verdict was:
"The Siamese were a striking lot, and among them Nam Noi, a blue one, caused much discussion, though, to my mind, there is no room for doubt, as he is Siamese in every detail, shape, tail and eyes. .."
(NB don't think of our present day Siamese when you think of body length, eye shape etc. Find some pictures of 19th century foundation cats if you're not familiar with them)
However, turn to the prize list and you find Nam Noi won nothing as a Siamese, but came first in the class for Russian or any other blue cat.
We are told why by W. R. Hawkins who does an in-depth show report in the July edition.
"Siamese were plentiful. Raheng was a really good male. Nam Noi, a Blue, was entered as a Siamese, and very possibly came from Siam; but that does not make him a Siamese any more than an English cat coming from Persia would be a Persian. To my thinking, Nam Noi was an undoubted Russian. The pick of all the Siamese, however was Rimo and when fullgrown he ought to figure well and be a credit to that excellent studcat, King Kesho. In Russians Nam Noi in its right class won"
In case you are wondering there is little room for doubt that Nam Noi did come from Thailand (Siam). There is the owner's testimony to this and she tells of plans to import more. Sadly though this hope never comes to fruition. In November 1896 there is a report:
"Mrs Spearman is disappointed on the non arrival of the Blue Siamese which were to have been landed to her order this month, as the antive who was to buy them for her had left the district, and so her commission was not executed; but she hopes to have them in March next."
This anticlimax is made a little more interesting by the testimony of Mrs Spearman's friend from Thailand who was staying with her at the time.
"A friend who is now staying with her confirms the existence of the Blue Siamese, as she herself possesses no fewer than eight Blues, and says they are quite common on the Burmese frontier, where they are called Shan cats, as belonging to the Shan tribes"
That actually fits in with information gathered by Ianthe Cormack in her stay in Thailand. She tells us of the time when Thai warriors would do battle against the Burmese on the borders. They charged on elephants and some carried their fierce male Korats with them.
And that ends all I can tell you of Mrs Spearman and Nam Noi. She wasn't successful in importing more blue cats. Perhaps her husband was posted to another far flung corner of the British Empire and she went with him as she no longer graced the social columns. We just have a brief tantalising glimpse of her cat appearing when showing was a pastime for the rich ladies of and gentlemen of high society.
His owner declared he was Siamese. His judge put him into the Russian or any other blue class, and a commentator said Russian for sure.
What do you think this blue cat from Thailand was?
(deeply indebted to Lesley Morgan Blythe, Australian & International judge
who supplied me with the newspaper cuttings.)