Translated into English by Eline Geertsema





As lover and breeder of the old type of Siamese (Old Style Siamese) I would like to inform the interested visitors of my website a bit about the history of the beginnings of the registered Siamese breed as well as the change in type over the years. My summary is not a full report, I just have concentrated on the most important things in my view. (Photo above: Litter by "Tachin", owner Lady Marcus Beresford, from "The Book Of The Cat" by Frances Simpson, 1903)

In ancient Siam and the Thailand of today the Siamese cat is called Wichien-Maat and there are two ways of translation, one is "gold and diamonds" and the other is "moon-diamond". Both sound well and are good descriptions for our blue eyed masked beauty from far away Siam, who got totally different characteristics from the British. At the Crystal Palace Show 16th July 1871 two Siamese were shown, who were said to be a" nightmare" cat, "ugly" and "frightening". We should keep in mind that in those days a purebred cat in the eyes of the British was a long haired cat in solid colour, tabby or tortoiseshell, but not an elegant cat with points and short coat. Still some British must have been fascinated by these nightmare cats, because in 1872 there was another Siamese to admire on the Crystal Palace Show. As far as we know these first imported cats were not used to breed from.

In 1884 Mr. Owen Gould brought Pho and Mia to England, who can be found as No. 1a and 2a in the Siamese Cat Register. They were a gift to his sister Miss Lilian Gould (later Mrs. Lilian Veley), who showed their progeny Duen Ngai, Kalahom and Khronata very successfully at the Crystal Palace Show in 1885. Unfortunately the kittens were infected with "Distemper" (maybe Feline Panleukopenia) at the show and died a week later.



Mrs. Veley's cats Duen Ngai, Kalahom und Khronata



More Siamese wer imported in the following years and one can say that the current Siamese breed is based on eleven of these imports. Unfortunately there is not much photo material available from this time, but the photos available show strong cats, who do not have much in common with Siamese like they look today.







Tiam O'Shian IV (photo above) is a grandson of the famous stud Tiam O'Shian imported by Mrs. Vyvyan in 1886. The first Siamses Champion, Ch. Wankee (photo below), was imported from Hongkong by Mrs. Robinson in 1895. (Both photos from "The Book Of The Cat" by Frances Simpson, 1903)





Harrison Weir, President of "The National Cat Club", describes in his 1889 published book "Our Cats and All About Them" the Siamese cat more detailed and illustrated their look with drawings:





In 1892 Harrison Weir wrote the first Siamese breed standard. The Siamese Cat Club was founded by enthousiastic admirers in the year 1902. To the founding committee belonged amongst others also Miss Forestier Walker and her sister Mrs. Vyvyan, who belonged to the pioneers in breeding Siamese in England and always owned a direct progeny of the famous Tiam O'Shian. The Siamese Cat Club layed down a new Siamese breed standard and the first time there was made a distinction between the "Royal Cat of Siam", cream coloured body with sharp defined points, blue eyes (describing the colour seal point as we know it today) and the "Chocolate Cat of Siam" with deep brown body and hardly visible points, blue eyes (describing the current Tonkanese breed or even the Burmese breed)

Frances Simpson dedicated a large chapter to the Siamese in her book "The Book Of The Cat" published in 1903 and it contains some valuable information about the early days of the Siamese breed including some photos. The next two photos of King Kesho and Ah Choo are from this book.





In the year 1921 Mr. and Mrs. Hindley imported a female Siamese, Puteh, from Malaya. Puteh is the foundation queen of the famous Prestwick Cattery, a cattery that existed for many year and which had a strong influence on the Siamese breed that cannot be compared to any other. Unfortunately there is no photo of Puteh, but there are from other Prestwick cats, for exampel Puteh's daughter Perak born 30th April 1924. (Photo below from the book "The Siamese Cat" by Phyl Wade, published in 1934)





The "Siamese Cat Register" published in 1924 already contains hundreds of cats, but there were more cats imported until the 1930s. Two of the last imported cats are Miss Gold's "Oriental Minoo Pinklepurr" and "Oriental Nai Tabhi". (Photo below from "The Siamese Cat" by Phyl Wade, 1934)





In 1933 a new breed standard was recorded by the Siamese Cat Club and in 1935 the colour blue point, not regognized so far, was added. The photos below show the blue point queen "Salween Fairmaid", born 3rd September 1945 and the stud "Misselfore Ya-Rain", born 15th November 1948 (both the photos are from the book "Siamese Cats" by Phyllis Lauder, 1950).





In 1958 the Siamese breed standard again was altered and the colours chocolate point and lilac point were added. In these times the look of our Siamese began to change, a change that lasts until today. In her 1967 published book "Siamese Cats Past and Present" Greta Hindley warns for this change: "Breeders of today have come to consider "type" as the most important point about a Siamese. This is all to the good, but do not let us carry it to extremes like some breeders have done with dogs, and so spoil a very beautiful animal, by making it unpleasing and ugly. We are tending that way, and that way danger lies; some heads are becoming too narrow at the top, and eyes too close together. We can even overdo the length of the head, although this does not matter so much as long as it is well balanced. Ears should be large, but not too large, wide at the base, but always pricked (with not tendency to flop and never pointing to the side), so giving that alert expression which is so characteristic and (with the usual unexpectedness of the Siamese) is rather contradicted by the mysterious sphinx-like expression of the eye, which is often referred to as the "Siamese Expression" or "Siamese Look". Even bodies can be too long and ungainly, and tails too, so that instead of a neat, dapper little cat with everything well-balanced, we shall at last produce an ungainly beast with not pretension to daintiness."

Niad Som Phong (photo below), born 6th March 1960, is a stud imported from England in possession of Otto Sebastian. Among his ancestors are also some Prestwick cats. (Photo from "Die Edelkatze" Nr. 3, 1968)





In England the old type of Siamese has been preserved next to the modern type until these days. There are still numerous breeders in England, who dedicate themselves to the preservation of these old Siamese lines. Some of these Siamese were and are still living in the cattery "las joyas Thai", for example Admewam Kristofer Robin, Hancas Humbug, Hancas Fudge, Solomio Sir Paul, Sinope Balius and Marajade Jethro Tull. One of Jethro's greatgreatgrandfathers is Penyrallt Picasso, born 4th March 1974. (1st row: left Penyrallt Picasso, right Marajade Jethro Tull, 2nd row: left Hancas Fudge, right Hancas Humbug)







In the USA there are also some breeders who dedicate themselves to the preservation of the Old Style Siamese. I would like to mention the very dedicated breeder Dr. Cris Bird of Sarsenstone Cattery. Dr. Bird has not only the preservation of the old type of Siamese at heart, but especially the health of the breed. Therefore she walks in the footsteps of the English Siamese pioneers and has imported several Siamese from Thailand in order to introduce fresh bloodlines. Direct progeny of her imported stud Chiang Mai Piab of Sarsenstone are amongst others the queens Scofflaw Chula and Scofflaw Tiena (cattery las joyas Thai) as well as Sarsenstone Salome and Sarsenstone Seraphine living in the cattery von der Falkenhöhe. (Photos below: left Sarsenstone Seraphine, right Scofflaw Chula)





Whether one prefers the "modern" or the "old" type of Siamese of course is a matter of personal taste and this varies from person to person. To me it is important to stress that "Old Style Siamese" is not a breed name, but just a distinction between the old and modern type of Siamese. All Old Style Siamese are registered Siamese cats with a Siamese pedigree. By no means I am speaking of "Thai" cats (a new breed recognized by WCF) according to the WCF breed standard, who are registered as Thai and therefore have a Thai pedigree. Often Thai cats are called "traditional Siamese", "Applehead Siamese" or even "Old Style Siamese by their breeders. Only few of these often attractive cats are from old Siamese lines and are often of questionable heritage. For the lover of Siamese this is a hardly understandable tangle or maze, which can only be detangled by a verification of the lineage by studying the pedigree.

Amongst breeders of modern typed Siamese in Germany and neighbouring countries there are a few breeders breeding pure Siamese lines, meaning without any Oriental Shorthairs, Balinese or Oriental Longhairs among the ancestors. This is called "Pure Siamese", a development I personally welcome, because our "Old Style Siamese" are nothing else than "Pure Siamese", like for example both beauties in the photo below, left Xenon's Mirabella and right Scofflaw Chula.





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Sources:
Siamese Cats Legends and Reality by Martin Clutterbuck
Our Cats and All About Them by Harrison Weir
The Book Of The Cat by Frances Simpson
The Siamese Cat by Phyl Wade
Siamese Cats by Phyllis Lauder
Siamese Cats Past and Present by Greta Hindley



Old Style Siamese - deutsche Version / Frühkastration