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This cat worked as a trained assistant in a victorian photo studio

Rosetta Greek, 52, poses with a victorian photo of a tabby cat named Sneezer, whom she later learned was a trained photography assistant.



Rosetta Greek with the photo of Sneezer, a moggy who assisted a photographer by making his models smile in the 19th century. (SWNS)

By Fiona Jackson via SWNS

A woman has rediscovered photos of a pet cat which bizarrely worked as a trained photographers assistant in a 1800s picture studio.

Rosetta Greek, 52, loves vintage photography and snapped up the portrait of a tabby posing on a chair in a professional studio for $26.

And when she posted it on Facebook an amateur historian did some research, and discovered the cat was Sneezer, a photographer's assistant from the Victorian Era.

A magazine clipping from 1885 told how Sneezer was specially trained to leap on a high chair when his owner, George Phelps, whistled.

Sneezer, a moggy who assisted a photographer by making his models smile in the 19th century. (Photo by Rosetta Greek via SWNS)

It would make kids smile, and even get adult subjects to turn to the right direction at the correct time.

Greek was delighted when she found that what she thought was just another auction treasure, had such a unique back story.

She said: "I'm a photographer and I love old, stoic, studio photography.

"I'd never seen a cat photographed in this manner and I knew it was fantastic.

"I thought to myself 'it's amazing that the cat held still long enough for the photographer to take the shot', followed by 'clearly this kitty was revered and loved.'"

Greek, from Seattle, Washington, attended a monthly Antique and Collectible Auction in Lynnwood on December 4.

"As a collector of treasures or oddities I look at the auction listing every week to see if there's anything that 'speaks to me'," she said.

When an old photo of a cat posed on a chair was brought out, there were four bidders in competition, but Rosetta had already fallen for Sneezer.

She said: "When I saw Sneezer I said out loud to myself 'I must have this!'

"I went $22, one person on the internet went $24, and I got the lot for $26. - I wasn't about to lose this bid."

The cat-lover was overjoyed with her picture, and shared it on a Facebook group for photos of non-human feet.

A commenter recognised the image, and sent Rosetta a link to an edition of magazine 'The Amateur Photographer' from 1885.

The photograph had the insignia of 'Geo C. Phelphs Photo' from New Haven, Connecticut, and the magazine article details "the intelligent posing cat that was the property of photographer George C. Phelps of New Haven, Connecticut."

Cat lover Greek said: "It was a perfect match, it was crazy!

"I learned this kitty was a rescue cat, it was a male, and his name was Sneezer."

The article says that Sneezer was a rescue cat found under a barn when he was a kitten, and is nine years old in the image.

He was rescued by photographer George who trained him from a young age to act as "assistant photographer" and come to his whistle.

Whenever George had to photograph a child or tricky adult, he would call for his cat who leapt upon a high chair to distract the model.

The article said: "Sneezer comes forward from any part of the building, springs upon the chair, put his fore paws on the back, and fasters his large eyes on those of the child, as much as to say ''Now look at me for a second'.

"Usually the babe becomes interested, and remains quiet long enough to obtain an instantaneous negative.

"Even adults are inveigled into a proper pose by this clever animal, who can soon banish a look of care or austerity.

"Sneezer goes through his task without enthusiasm. He is a cat that believes in duty and performs it."

The clever half-tiger cat could also shake hands, meow and roll over on command.

He is also described as "vain, and delights in looking in the mirror" in the clipping that was originally taken from newspaper the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Greek, who has two rescue cats of her own called Luna and Pussywillow, wants to share Sneezer's story far and wide.

Collection of photos purchased by Greek. (SWNS)

She said: "I know from having spoken to the auction house that the family got rid of the photographs because they didn't know anyone in the pictures.

"They wanted their family's entire antique collection of tin-typed, studio photographs and candids separated into individual lots and sold separately - no longer a family unit which broke my heart.

"My hope would be that people consider the subject in old photographs whether you know them or not and think about who they were and what their life might have been like.

"They have a story and the closest thing to that story is the face that you're looking at in the picture."

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