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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Monday, May 30, 2016

private jim kensill, 1865

On Memorial Day, as we appreciate the bravery and sacrifice of our armed forces, here at The Pet Museum we think with love of those other soldiers who served.  Here's a selection from the (happy!) story of Civil War serviceman Jim Kensill who "by occupation" was a rat terrier.
* * *
Our own regiment possessed a pet of great value and high esteem in Little Jim, of whom some incidental mention has already been made. As Little Jim enlisted with the regiment, and was honorably mustered out of the service with it at the close of the war, after three years of as faithful service as so little a creature as he could render the flag of his country, some brief account of him here may not be out of place.
Little Jim, then, was a small rat terrier, of fine blooded stock, his immediate maternal ancestor having won a silver collar in a celebrated rat pit in Philadelphia. Late in 1859, while yet a pup, he was given by a sailor friend to John C. Kensill, with whom he was mustered into the United States service “for three years, or during the war,” on Market Street, Philadelphia, Pa., late in August, 1862. Around his neck was a silver collar with the inscription, “ Jim Kensill, Co. F, 150th P. V.”
* * *
We learn of Little Jim's bravery in the face of hardship and camp life, and then this good soldier gets his reward:
* * *
His master having been honorably discharged before the close of the war because of wounds, Jim was left with the regiment in care of Wiggins, the wagoner. When the regiment was mustered out of service at the end of the war, Little Jim was mustered out too. He stood up in rank with the boys and wagged his tail for joy that peace had come and that we were all going home. I understand that his discharge papers were regularly made out, the same as those of the men, and that they read somewhat as follows: —
To ALL WHOM IT MAY CONCERN; Know ye that Jim Kensill, Private, Company F, 150th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, who was enrolled on the twentysecond day of August, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Sixty-two, to serve three years, or during the war, is hereby DISCHARGED from the service of the United States, this twenty-third day of June, 1865, at Elmira, New York, by direction of the Secretary of War.
(No objection to his being reenlisted is known to exist.)
Said Jim Kensill was born in Philadelphia, in the State of Pennsylvania, is six years of age, six inches high, dark complexion, black eyes, black and tan hair, and by occupation, when enrolled, a Rat Terrier. Given at Elmira New York, this twenty~third day of June, 1865. JAMES R. REID, Capt. Tenth U. S. Infantry, A. C. M.
Before parting with him, the boys bought him a silver collar, which they had suitably inscribed with his name, regiment, and the principal engagements in which he had participated. This collar, which he had honorably earned in the service of his country in war, he proudly wore in peace to the day of his death.

 - Harry M. Kieffer, in The Children's Hour: The Out-of-Door Book, Eva March Tappan, ed. (Houghton,Mifflin & Co., 1907), 25-30.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

the journalist's pet squirrel

thanks british library (PD)

William James Stillman (American, 1828-1901) was one of those 19th-century Renaissance men who did many things well.  An artistic talent who became a major journalist and war correspondent, he also served as US Ambassador to Rome, roomed with Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and at one point unsuccessfully applied to take over the excavations at Knossos, Crete.
Among other works, late in life he wrote an article on his pet squirrels Billy and Hans.  Expanded and revised, it became a book after his death - a gentle and charming one, with an introduction that hold a heartfelt plea for out thoughtful care of our fellow creatures.
Today I'm offering you a bit from the first chapter of "Billy and Hans," in which Stillman acquires his friend Billy as a baby.
In my favourite summer resort at the lower edge of the Black Forest, the quaint old town of Laufenburg, a farmer's boy one day brought me a young squirrel for sale. He was a tiny creature, probably not yet weaned, a variation on the ordinary type of the European squirrel, dark grey instead of the usual red, and with black tail and ears, so that at first, as he contented himself with drinking his milk and sleeping, I was not sure that he was not a dormouse. But examination of the paws, with their delicate anatomy, so marvellously like the human hand in their flexibility and handiness, and the graceful curl of his tail, settled the question of genus; and mindfulof my boyhood and a beloved pet of the American species of his genus, I bought him and named him Billy.
 From the first moment that he became my companion he gave me his entire confidence, and accepted his domestication without the least indication that he considered it captivity. There is generally a short stage of mute rebellion in wild creatures before they come to accept us entirely as their friends—a longing for freedom which makes precautions against escape necessary. This never appeared in Billy; he came to me for his bread and milk, and slept in my pocket, from the first, and enjoyed being caressed as completely as if he had been born under my roof.
No other animal is so clean in its personal habits as the squirrel, when in health; and Billy soon left the basket which cradled his infancy, and habitually slept under a fold of my bed-cover, sometimes making his way to my pillow and sleeping by my cheek; and he never knew what a cage was except when travelling, and even then for the most part he slept in my pocket, in which he went with me to the table d'hote, and when invited out sat on the edge of the table and ate his bit of bread with a decorum that made him the admiration of all the children in the hotel, so that he accompanied me in all my journeys. He acquired a passion for tea, sweet and warm, and to my indulgence of this taste I fear I owe his early loss. He would, when placed on the breakfast table, rush to my cup and plunge his nose in when it was hot enough to scald him. This peculiar taste I could never account for.
He had full liberty to roam in my room; but his favourite resort was my work-table when I was at work; and when his diet became nuts he used to hide them among my books, and then come to hunt them out again, like a child with its toys. I sometimes found my typewriter stopped, and discovered a hazel nut in the works. . . .

- Stillman, W. James. (1914). Billy and Hans, my squirrel friends: a true history. Portland, Me.: T. B. Mosher. 3-6.

Friday, May 27, 2016

a setter facing left

Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (photo)

"...with a Partridge Hiding among Burdocks on the Left."  This tiny painting (5 x 6 3/4 inches) is enamel on porcelain.  Look how it glows, even in a photo.  According to the Yale Center for British Art, the unknown hand that made it around 1805 was inspired by painter Philip Reinagle. Reinagle was a member of the Royal Academy, a portrait and landscape painter best known for portrayals of animals.  You can see academic formality and insistence on scrupulous work here, but I wonder what Reinagle's dogs look like, too.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

war rabbit

the walters art museum. Acquired by William T. or Henry Walters. creative commons 0 license.
Once (in Japan, perhaps in the 19th century) this rabbit served a martial purpose.  He's a kurikata, a knob with which a cord can be attached to a wooden scabbard.  His unusual coloring is due to his being made of the alloy shibuichi, which is a mixture of silver and copper, with golden eyes.

Monday, May 23, 2016

cool cats on the wall

i took these!
Found on a wall in the 20's blocks on Alberta St. in Portland.  How about a better look at those kittens?  Okay, here you go.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

a quiet moment: girl with a cat, 1545

Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1933. www.metmuseum.org
Jan Cornelisz Vermeyen (Dutch, c 1504-1559) had an adventuresome life.  He became court painter to Margaret of Austria at about the age of 21; ten years later he accompanied her nephew Emperor Charles V to Tunis, where he created a portrait of the reinstated Tunisian king  Moulay Hassan.  After 1536 he settled in Brussels, and it must have been there that he took the quiet hours to etch and engrave this quiet and introspective "Girl with a Cat."  The cat has been caught mid-biscuit, if I know that particular paw curl (and I do - Eliz was making biscuits on my face this morning as I woke up and I've the claw mark on my nose to show for it).  Vermeyen had a master hand with human faces and anatomy, but I can tell he must not have worked with cats much.  This one has very tiny ears, and the front legs seem too stubby; but yet he did capture the hooded eyes and pursed whiskers of a relaxed feline.

Friday, May 20, 2016

three seasonings?

Leonard A. Lauder Collection of Japanese Postcards, www.mfa.org

Kajita Hanko (Japanese, 1870-1919) didn't get enough time on the earth. If he'd lived longer we could have had more treats such as this 1905 illustration for a series based on The Tale of Genji:
"New Herbs (Wakana) II."  ("New Herbs Wakana I" is here.)  Most of his work seems to have been illustrations (kuchi-e) for Japanese romance novels and magazines.  The Tale of Genji is a gigantic and ancient Japanese classic, but it has a romantic feel.  Most illustrations for it stick to all its pretty and noble people in their robes sitting about their pavilions.  You can imagine how thrilled I was to find this close-up, intimate and unexpected take on one of my favorite books.