Century-Old Photographs of Adorable Cats and Dogs

Posted on Fun 14

Harry Whittier Frees, an American photographer who lived from 1879 to 1953, may have created the original LOLcat images! His funny photographs show adorable animals dressed up in clothes and posed in human situations. Often accompanied by humorous captions, the photographs depict the furry little critters wearing clothes handmade by Frees’ mother and using tiny props that look like they belong in a dollhouse. We’re not entirely sure why, but there is just something inexplicably hilarious about seeing cats drinking tea or riding a choo-choo train together.

In a time period when software like Photoshop wasn’t available, the photographer had to rely on good old-fashioned patience in order to capture these shots. Frees said, “These unusual photographs of real animals were made possible only by patient, unfailing kindness on the part of the photographer at all times.” Admittedly, he had a little help getting the animals to stand thanks to the stiff contours of the clothes that his mother sewed, but for the most part, the photographic process involved waiting patiently for the perfect moment.

Frees’ career as an animal photographer began at a birthday party in 1906, when a paper party hat landed on a cat’s head. Frees snapped a photo and sold it to a postcard printer, who quickly asked for other photos as customers demanded more of the funny images. In addition to taking photos of his own cats, Rags and Fluff, Frees frequently used neighbors’ and friends’ pets as subjects.

[dropcaps]

harrywhitterfrees1

Picture: Harry Whittier Frees/Caters

harrywhitterfrees2

Picture: Harry Whittier Frees/Caters

harrywhitterfrees3

Picture: Harry Whittier Frees/Caters

harrywhitterfrees4

Picture: Harry Whittier Frees/Caters

harrywhitterfrees5

Picture: Harry Whittier Frees/Caters

harrywhitterfrees6

These hilarious photographs, believed to date back to 1914, are the original cat memes – or ‘LOLcats’ – a term first recorded in 2006 to define an image created by combining a humorous shot of a cat with amusing text above or below.

Picture: Harry Whittier Frees/Caters

harrywhitterfrees7

His portraits were created by dressing up cats and dogs then posing them in human situations accompanied by props.

Picture: Harry Whittier Frees/Caters

harrywhitterfrees8

Frees then printed a sentence on top of the photographs and sold them as novelty postcards and children’s books – all highly collectible today.Picture: Harry Whittier Frees/Caters

harrywhitterfrees9

Taken by American snapper Harry Whittier Frees they suggest he may have actually been one of the pioneers of the ‘LOLcat’ phenomenon – rather than the millennial generation.Picture: Harry Whittier Frees/Caters

harrywhitterfrees10

Frees wrote in his book Animal Land on the Air: ‘Puppies are tractable when rightly understood, but the kitten is the most versatile animal actor, and possesses the greatest variety of appeal.’Picture: Harry Whittier Frees/Caters

harrywhitterfrees11

Frees used his own cats, Rags and Fluff, as well as the pets of his friends and neighbours

Picture: Harry Whittier Frees/Caters

harrywhitterfrees12

Picture: Harry Whittier Frees/Caters

[/dropcaps]

harrywhitterfrees1