History of the White Persian
It is reported that the first longhaired cats in England were blue-eyed white Angora cats. According to Harrison Weir in his book, Our Cats, many were imported from Paris and were always referred to as the French cats. In 1903, H.F. Vidal noted, "The white class in our shows is generally one of the best filled, that is, in quality, notwithstanding the fact that on the continent preference is generally for the warmer colors." At the turn of the century whites were a favorite among the aristocracy. Lady Decies bred numerous cats all bearing the Fulmer prefix. Mrs. McLaren Morrison had a number of whites in her cattery, the most famous a blue-eyed named Crystal. Crystal was purchased in 1898 at four months of age. Mrs. Morrison claimed Crystal to have been a good investment because she had been defeated only once in the show ring and had produced sixteen white kittens (ten of which were blue eyed).
In the early 1900's whites were so fashionable at American shows that classification was divided into blue-eyed and golden-eyed and again into male and female. A male called Jungfrau appeared as sire and grandsire of a number of early white winners. Mrs. Clinton Locke of Chicago imported many of the first whites to the U.S. Mrs. Locke wrote that the first white she owned was brought to her from Persia by a traveler. Apparently descendants of this cat when mated with either amber-eyed or blue-eyed cats produced blue-eyed kittens. Another of Mrs. Locke's imports was a blue-eyed white English import called Lord Gwynne. In 1903 Frances Simpson wrote in Book of the Cat, "It is a pity to try mating white cats with any other variety, as broken-colored cats will probably be the result." Most early white breeders agreed with this theory so it was a newsworthy event when success was achieved by outcrossing to solid blues. The first CFA white grand was GC Rosedere White Hope of Arlington bred by Miss Emma Payne. White Hope came from a breeding between a blue, Lavender Centurian, and a blue-eyed white, CH Rosedere White Orchid. The first white female grand was a blue-eyed female named Queen High owned by Mrs. Rymal. In addition to the benefits in type, the introduction of blues (or even blacks) also resulted in purer coat color.
Mrs. Annie Revington, of Bristol, Tennessee, began breeding blue Persians in 1923 and her Dixi-Land cattery became internationally famous. She added whites to her program in 1936. During this era it was agreed that blues excelled in type and physique. With this in mind Mrs. Revington bred the leading blue female of her day, CH Dixi-Land's Margaret Rose of Allington (imp) to White Hope resulting in two history making whites: GC Dixi-Land's White Historian (the first) and CH Dixi-Land's Innocence. Being ignorant at the time about dark spots that often appear on the heads of kittens masking blue (as well as other colors), Mrs. Revington wrote that at first she thought she had pets on her hands! In 1949 GC Dixi-Land's White Historian II won Best Opposite Sex Cat of the Year.
In 1951 Blanche Smith began her Gallahad cattery specializing in blue-eyed whites. Mrs. Smith credits Mrs. F.E.J. Champion and Miss D.B. Champion (mother and daughter) and Mrs. Revington with playing a tremendously important part in developing BEWs. She notes the first important BEW grands as Van Dyke's Miss Bob White (Lila Rippy, breeder) and GC Milky Way Enchanted Prince (Ruth Hayes, breeder). In the 1950's Mrs. Smith and Rita Swenson fought for CFA recognition of the odd-eyed white as an aid in blue-eyed white breeding programs. Although the value of OEW in BEW breeding had been recognized as early as 1903, official recognition for odd-eyes was considered a radical idea by many breeders of this era. Two of Blanche Smith's most famous blue-eyed whites, GC Gallahad's Faith and GC Gallahad's Heritage, were from odd-eyed to odd-eyed breedings.
The 1960's saw a flurry of whites in the forefront. GC Shawnee Moonflight earned three Cat of the Year titles (1960, 1961, 1964) for Nikki Horner. Pat Johnston, of Azulita Cattery in San Diego was already one of the best known breeders of blues when she began breeding whites in 1960. Success was quickly attained breeding and exhibiting these whites including 1961 Opp. Sex Cat of the Year and a 1963 Cat of the Year win with GC Azulita Paleface of Casa Cielo. Barbara (Long) Flugrad began her Babalong cattery in the 1960's with her first pedigreed cat, a blue. She combined Blue Acre, Erman, and Illini Pines to create the Babalong look which is especially noted for its beautifully rounded dome. Babalong blue-eyed whites grace many pedigrees of modern white Persians. The Simbelair whites of Mrs. Lois Weston came to fame in the 1960's by combining cats from Skyway, Bloemhill (for intense eye color), Babalong, and Azulita (for improved boning). CH Skyway's Rajah of Simbelair was the sire of 20 white grands many being the foundation of other lines. In 1968 GC Simbelair Aristocrat (OEW male) became the first Simbelair National winner, earning #2 LH male for owner Marcena Myers. GC Simbelair Fantastic and GC Simbelair Azaraf were two other top winners who marked many future pedigrees. The Kilarney Cattery of Tom and Ellen Brown was started with Bloemhill and Silva-Wyte bloodlines. Their first white grand sired 1969 Kitten of the Year GC Kilarney's Tom Tom (cream).