Everyone loves the cat!

[Cat posed with Mexican serape]

Everyone seems to love this photo of a tabby cat posed with a Mexican serape.

Taken ca. 1862-1868, it is presented as a cased, ambrotype photograph. Views of domesticated animals from this time period were very rare, indicating that the owner loved this cat very much.

For one thing, ambrotypes were much more expensive than the cartes-de-visite that were popular during the 1860s. Ambrotype cases were designed to emulate miniature painting cases, making them more special and jewel-like. For most people, getting an ambrotype was considered a special occasion. Few people even considered having their pet photographed as an ambrotype, given the expense. The fact that the owner(s) invested in a pricey, cased image during the turbulent time of the Civil War, when this image was probably made, makes it even more unusual. Exposures were long, and one can only imagine how hard it was to keep an animal still.

“Cat posed with Mexican serape” is part of the Lawrence T. Jones III Texas Photographs collection, held by SMU’s DeGolyer Library. On SMU’s Flickr: The Commons Photostream, “the cat” is one of the most popular images.


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