I spoke to David Montgomery recently—he can’t get to shows now, so it was lovely to catch up with him. He misses his mice! David was a regular contributor to NMC News, particularly with items from the archives. Here is one he provided 20 years ago, in July 2004. Ed

A recent addition to the archives is Fur and Feather Christmas Number for 1933, dated 15th December. It contains a number of articles relating to mice which I thought might be of interest and which I have condensed for you.
The first article describes the “Bellfield” mice, the property of Messrs AL and RC Edmondson. The mice are housed on their poultry farm premises at Morecambe and, at the time of the visit by a Mr Allan Watson, comprised a stud of some four to five hundred, in many varieties, Blacks however holding pride of place, numbering close on a hundred. Mr Watson was amazed at the general quality of this wonderful stud. They were brought out for his inspection, all of beautiful type, with good tails, fine shape of head and colour as black as (“one could wish” – my words in place of a politically incorrect phrase in the original article). Other mice described of equal merit included fawns, pink eyed whites, self silvers, chocolates and grand teams of tans in black, blue, champagne, chocolate and dove. Mr Watson described the stud as a tremendous force for good in the mouse fancy, controlled by two enthusiastic fanciers who want the best and who like to see the best, irrespective of ownership.
The second article by an unnamed contributor concerns the ‘Carlops’ stud of mice owned by Dr JN Pickard. Dr Pickard went to the Institute of Animal Genetics, Edinburgh University, and took up mice for Mendelian research work. Rabbits gradually took over from mice at the Institute and Dr Pickard had to curtail scientific studies as far as mice were concerned, but his interest was so keen that he continued to breed mice in a private capacity as a hobby. “His stud now numbers over one thousand head and he keeps all colours and varieties except the ‘piebalds’. He has tended to specialise in tans with good results. Special attention has been paid by Dr Pickard to feet and top colour, whilst the rich tan has been retained or even strengthened.” He also had reds, pink eyed fawns, pink eyed whites, champagnes, silvers, doves, cinnamons, silver greys, sables and agoutis. Interestingly, chinchillas are now mentioned. “The chinchilla mouse cup has twice out of three times it has been offered been won by Carlops mice.” Unsatisfied with the type of mice which were winning as chinchillas, Dr Pickard imported some of the real chinchilla mice from America. They were seriously exhibited at the Palace (Crystal?) for the first time and won both adult and young classes. These were followed by light shade silver greys from the same stud. So it would seem chinchillas of sorts were around before the import from America arrived and of course Dr Pickard got his new variety certificate.
Next came an article from a Mr S Partington who advanced the interesting theory that mice and cavies were not as advanced as rabbits (in particular English and Dutch) since they did not have the advantage of being able to have the use of winning stud bucks such as is advertised in Fur and Feather for the rabbits. The stud buck system in his opinion put many a beginner to the top in a short time. He was of the opinion also that if stock first acquired does not turn out mice fit for the show pen, it is best to get a trio from another strain and work them together, as it is no use in-breeding unless one has good stock to do it with. He believed in outcrossing and had proved it in the few years of the experimenting he had done with selfs and marked varieties.
Mr W Turton gave his reflections on the mice section at the great Derby show. During his tour of the show after lunch, HRH Prince George (later King George VI) was very interested in the different varieties and asked numerous questions of the judges and stewards. Dr Pickard had some of his imported strain of chinchillas, which are a variety distinct from anything we have previously seen. Mr Turton suggested to the Dr that since he had exhibited three specimens at the Palace and also at Derby, he was entitled to apply for a new variety certificate and that he should draw up a new standard for the variety and present it for the club’s adoption. The Palace winning young Dutch was evidently still eligible to compete in the 8 weeks class, and seeing it was three weeks since the Palace, it must have been shown there at a tender age. The feature of our section was the best in show broken, “acclaimed by all to be the best yet produced. It is indeed a splendid specimen and well worth a visit to any show to see. Congratulations to its breeder on his reward for perseverance”. Just how good it was we shall never know. What a pity there is no photograph available.
Mrs ED Blowers also contributed an article. For the benefit of new fanciers, she was secretary of the NMC from 1932 to 1938, taking on the post after only two years in the fancy. She had this to say: “Are you feeling just a bit disgruntled with life? Does time hang heavily on your hands? You say ‘yes’, well just scan the advertisement at the back of this Christmas Number of Fur and Feather, find the mice column, and see how many really good breeding trios are being offered for sale. Having made up your mind which colour you most fancy, write of straight away for a small pen of exhibition (breeding) mice.” There were in fact 21 advertisers and most varieties if mice seem to have been available. Many well known names were to be found in the column, including Walter Maxey whose advert ran thus: “Genuine Maxey show cages, made by the original designer (the real goods) enamelled two coats inside and out, 2/9d each, two or more carriage free”.
Mrs Blowers also contributed an article on hybridisation of mice, which included an account by Mr Atlee on how he produced his variegateds. The article is quite long and perhaps better suited as a separate project in due course.
There then appears an article written by a Mr FC Horton under the heading “Mice Breeding on the Grand Scale— A Stud of Four Thousand Long-tails in Many Popular Varieties”. The owner of the stud? Mrs Turvey, with a beautiful mousery situated amidst picturesque surroundings at Totternhoe Farm in the county of Bedfordshire. The mouse ‘shed’ was over 40 feet long and 16 feet wide. All the mice were bedded on oat chaff, all produced on the farm, along with the best hay and oats. Varieties kept were mainly black eyed whites, Dutch and brokens. Last but not least were chinchillas which were of good type and without the short tails and small ears often found in this variety. One very noticeable feature of Mrs Turvey’s chins was the sharp black ticking which is so needed.
The Christmas Number for 1933 certainly produced enough material to keep mousers happy, and if our editor considers this worthy of printing it will hopefully have helped to keep you happy too!
David Montgomery 


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