The Brighton Cats

Published January 2013

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Feline aficianados love taking photos of their favorite feline pet doing ridiculous things.

I know you've giggled at images on the internet of cats (and who hasn't). You are not alone. Even people who don't like cats have laughed at kitty antics on the web.

You know the photos I am referring to... cats in bikinis, cats on surfboards, cats posing behind the wheels of cars. The expressions on their kitty faces are priceless. We just can't seem to get enough of the delicious absurdity.

Got a cute cat photo? One of the most popular websites on the internet featuring cat photos is the ridiculously satisfying icanhas.cheezburger.com. It takes the funny cat photo to a new level by add humorous captions.

But this fascination with snapping our four-legged friends in all sorts of bizarre poses and adding captions is not really a new phenomenon.

If you think the notion to slap cutesy epigrams on photos of kittens originated with the internet, think again. Deranged cat pictures have been around since the earliest days of photography. Once humans got their hands on cameras, the dignity of the domesticated feline was forever doomed.


Harry Pointer with a few of his favorite subjects
More than a century ago, an English photographer named Harry Pointer (1822-1889) was famous for a series of postcards he created that featured cats, often posed in amusing ways.

Harry began by taking conventional  photographs of cats resting, drinking milk or sleeping in a basket, but around 1870 he began to specialize in photographing cats in a variety of poses, placing his cats in settings that would create a humorous or appealing picture.

His cats' unusual poses often mimicked human activities a cat riding a tricycle, cats roller-skating, a cat taking a photograph with a camera.

His customers of the time sent his small cartes-de-visite as tiny greetings cards.

Harry soon realized that even a relatively straight-forward cat photograph could be turned into an amusing or appealing image by simply adding a written caption.

Pointer increased the commercial potential of his cat pictures by adding a written greeting such as "A Happy New Year" or "Very many happy returns of the day."

By 1872, Harry had created over one 200 different captioned images of cats.

The series of cat photographs were collectively known as " The Brighton Cats ".

 

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