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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.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Domestic Cats: 1914

Domestic Cats: 1914

Two things you cannot escape:

        1. The Spanish Inquisition.
        2. The costumed cats of Harry W. Frees

1914. "Kittens in costume preparing to make tea with kettle boiling on toy stove." Photo by Harry W. Frees. View full size.

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Happy kitties!

I wasn't surprised to read tonyswhirl's comment about the pictures being taken with patience and kindness. These kittens are obviously happy! Cats have extremely expressive faces. If they were not happy, their expressions would leave no doubt about it!


I was beinning to think we weren't going to get another Frees photo this week. The comments about these KONRSVW are certainly amusing, whether pro or con.

In the kettle

The reflection in the kettle reveals an important factor in Frees' technique: daylight illumination of his studio provided by the enormous overhead skylight and the side windows. This allowed shorter exposure times that minimized motion blur from any subject movement. Also, it eliminated the need for harsh artificial lights or flash, both of which would tend to get the subjects squirming more than they might be already.

Water kettle

Cute little built-to-scale furniture and accessories but I'm thankful that my water kettle isn't the same size that I am or I could never lift it off the stove.


Is that really steam or was that done as some sort of touch-up on the negative?


If you're quoting Monty Python, it should read, "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition."

We've come to expect these cats because we've we know what you like (and there's no accounting for taste).

If we have to put up with Harry's odd fantasies to enjoy the other wonderful photos, I guess that's our cross to bear.

[In the July "likes" sweepstakes, Harry Frees has taken first place, easily besting Liz Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Lucy & Desi and Salty Alice. -tterrace]


These are making me go blind.

But which one does no one expect?

Clue: It's not the kitties!

Frees utilized specially design outfits

According to the photographer, Harry Whittier Frees, the cats and dogs he photographed were treated with care and patience, and his pictures were the result of stiff clothing and quickly captured shots at just the right moment before the kittens or dogs scampered off:

Frees utilized specially designed outfits, sewn by his mother, to hold the animals in standing poses waiting patiently for the shot he wanted. In Mr. Frees' own words, "These unusual photographs of real animals were made possible only by patient, unfailing kindness on the part of the photographer at all times."

“Speed is essential in securing these pictures, but very often it is impossible to be quick enough. Young animals cannot hold a pose any better than human babies, and the situation is complicated when they are called on to be precocious in situations naturally foreign to them," said the photographer.

The List

Is now officially up to 4 items you cannot escape? We are making progress, of sorts.

SHORPY OLD 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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