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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Nine Lives: 1910

Nine Lives: 1910

October 1910, aboard the steamship Trent off Bermuda. "M. Vaniman and cat." Melvin Vaniman, first engineer aboard the hydrogen airship America, with the tabby cat mascot of their ill-fated attempt at the first air crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Love the cat! And the cat hair!

Frederick Murray Simon, the navigator of the airship America, from which this cat was rescued, was on the maiden voyage of the Hindenburg!

Kiddo, the airship cat

Cat Conspiracy Theorists

So the consensus is that it was the cat's fault? My dog would buy that.

I wonder about that cat ....

That cat looks downright diabolical.

I wonder if, in two years, Kitty had something to do with the Titanic, and if he is plotting it even as this picture is being taken.

One should never underestimate the power of a cat ....

To use the colloquial expression...

BURN (pun intended)

On a side note, I have decided personal Zeppelin would be an awesome way to travel. Provided hydrogen is not the source of one's lift of course.

All according to plan?

The cat's expression is so calm and cool. It's almost as if he may have had a paw in the ship's demise...

Re: HELIUM, not hydrogen, DID NOT explode

Writing in ALL CAPS is irritating enough when people are "correcting" a previous comment. When the "correcter" turns out to be the one who needs correcting, it's ESPECIALLY annoying.

Akron lost in storm, did not explode.

The Akron was lost in a storm on April 3rd,1933, off the coast of New Jersey. It DID NOT explode as reported above. It was filled with 6,500,000 cubic feet of HELIUM, not hydrogen. US airships never used hydrogen.
73 men went down with her.

[Wrong. The very first sentence of that Wikipedia article notes that there was more than one airship called the Akron. Like my sixth-grade teacher used to say, it always pays to check your facts. - Dave]

What happened to the cat?

Out of sheer curiosity, is it known what happened to the cat when the America was abandoned by its crew?

[That''s what the photo is of. The crew after they were rescued by the Trent. - Dave]

Lint Roller

Looks to have cat hair all over his sweater and coat. Just like my clothes, my house, furniture and every damn thing I own. It was never my intention to love a cat and I swear, I will never love another one.

Anyone got a lint brush?

I love that the guy holding the cat is covered in cat hair. Some things never change...

A more fortunate feline

.... than the one that accompanied Shackleton and the crew of ENDURANCE to the south polar seas. R.I.P. Mrs. Chippy.

Vaniman's Demise

Vaniman lost his life during his second attempt at a trans-Atlantic airship crossing when his airship, the Akron, exploded off the New Jersey shore on July 2, 1912. Filled with 11,300 cubic meters of hydrogen gas, his was the first American airship that could compare to the better known European manufactured models. Vaniman and his crew of four were killed when the airship exploded in front of the gathered crowd near Atlantic City, and gondola plunged 750 meters into an inlet.

-- Wikipedia

Never annoy a cat...

That cat is definitely planning an act of revenge.

Just As Well

Our cat Diablo would be a dangerous source of static electricity were he on board a hydrogen filled airship. Patting him actually causes interference on an AM radio! Maybe it's just as well that the America's crossing was aborted.

Flying cat!

I was hoping that we'd get to see the cat. Looks like he was leash trained.

[Also rope trained. The New York Times reported that Kitty jumped out of the airship in heavy fog early in the voyage but was fished out of the Atlantic with a canvas bag attached to a lifeline. - Dave]

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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