The history of The Chinchilla, Silver Tabby & Smoke Cat Society can be traced back to the formation of the Silver Society in 1900 but, with the exception of the Chinchilla, the origins of the original three breeds for which it caters cannot be determined with any accuracy. The early history of many breeds or varieties of cat presently being shown is inevitably lost in the mists of antiquity. Cat showing only began in 1871 and, naturally, varieties that were well established in the domestic pet population were shown at that time and there are few records of their origins. From 1871 information about the different breeds becomes steadily easier to find, though records are fragmentary for the first few years.
The Silver Tabby and Smoke varieties undoubtedly existed long before cat showing was ever contemplated, but the real development of the Chinchilla only began in 1885 and is almost wholly a consequence of showing and of interest in the breeding and improvement of unusual varieties. As a result, the history of the Chinchilla is very well documented.
CHAMPION Silver Lambkin
Sire: CH Perso
Dam: Beauty of Bridgeyate
Breeder: Miss Howe
Owner: Mrs Balding
The pedigree of nearly every Chinchilla can be traced back to this prolific stud cat of the late 19th-century. Miss Simpson, writing in The Book of the Cat in 1903 stated "We may regard three cats as the founders of the breed or as the pillars of the silver strain - namely, 'Silver Lambkin', 'Lord Southampton' and 'Lord Argent'" (both sons of Lambkin).
Chinchillas were given a separate class of their own at shows for the first time at Crystal Palace in 1894 - the second prize went to Sea Foam, a daughter of Ch Silver Lambkin and Queen of the Mist. The most successful of all Chinchillas on the show bench in these early years was Lady Decies' Ch Fulmer Zaida (by Silver Laddie ex Silvie) born in 1895. Between the ages of six and ten years alone (1901-1905) she won 17 consecutive Challenge Certificates!
Cat shows in Britain from 1871-1895 were organised by The Crystal Palace Company, but in 1896 the responsibility was taken over by The National Cat Club, founded in 1887. The National Cat Club ruled the Cat Fancy without dispute until 1898 when there was dissention in its ranks and a rival organisation, The Cat Club, was formed. This ran successful shows for six years after which it collapsed. During this period of rivalry between the two clubs several other clubs and specialist breed societies were created. The first of these was The Silver Society, founded in 1900 by Mrs. Champion, owner of Lord Argent and breeder of the “Argent” Chinchillas. It was at the inaugural meeting of this Society that the “Three-Fold Classification” for Silvers was instituted by a vote of 54 to 8, and standards of points agreed for Silver Tabby, Chinchilla and Shaded Silver, provision in each case being made for orange or green eyes.
Mrs. Champion emigrated to America in 1902, taking with her Lord Argent and some of his offspring, who played a very important part in the foundation of American Chinchilla lines that have survived to the present day. The Society was enlarged to include Smokes and the name amended to The Silver and Smoke Persian Cat Society. In 1902 the members were sent voting papers to seek their views on the continuance of the Three-Fold-Classification, and it was decided by 32 votes to 20 to abandon it “for the present”.
However, the Society did not please everyone. In 1901 Mrs. Balding, probably the most famous name in Chinchilla breeding at that time, said that The Silver Society was encouraging mixed breeding, Shaded Silver Cats and orange eyes and she accordingly formed a new club, The Chinchilla Cat Club. The formation of this club had little effect on The Silver and Smoke Persian Cat Society, which continued to flourish, its membership in 1903 being 150 and subsequently rising even higher. By this time the Chinchilla breed was very popular and at St. Stephen’s Hall, Westminster in 1903, 21 males and 18 females were entered in the Chinchilla open classes!
In July 1908 the two rival clubs amalgamated to form The Chinchilla, Silver and Smoke Cat Society, which has an unbroken history from that date. The name was slightly modified to the present one almost immediately after the 1939-45 war since the Silver Tabby was the only other Silver breed other than the Chinchilla and Smoke to be recognised by the GCCF. In 1900 the Red, Cream, Tortie, Brown Tabby and Blue-Cream Society (originally called the Orange, Cream, Fawn and Tortie Society) was formed at about the same time as The Silver Society, followed in 1901 by The Blue Persian Cat Society, The Midland Counties Cat Club, The Shorthaired Cat Club and The Siamese Cat Club, in 1902 by The Black and White Cat Club and, in 1903, by the Southern Counties Cat Club. These, together with the Scottish Cat Club (1894) and the Northern Counties Cat Club (1900), both of which later went out of business and were subsequently reformed after a lapse of many years as the clubs that we know today, worked in uneasy alliance with the National Cat Club until, in 1908, eight of them broke away and formed the Incorporated Cat Fanciers’ Association in opposition to the NCC. For two years the Cat Fancy was divided into two hostile camps, but in 1910 differences were buried and “The Governing Council of The Cat Fancy” was created, consisting of delegates from the various clubs and societies. The National Cat Club agreed to hand over its governing powers to the GCCF, and in return was granted representation by four delegates. The Chinchilla, Silver Tabby and Smoke Cat Society was one of these founder members of the GCCF, and was thus granted privileged status, being entitled, as it still is, to representation whatever its membership.