The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Fetched from the Stacks : "Every breed of dog known"

Well, maybe that title is a little bit ambitious. But, in recognition of the 142nd annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show – taking place this weekend – today we are looking at collections items featuring canines, particularly images of dogs that are in the stacks here at the MHS (the images, not the dogs). 

In 1845, Sir John Franklin, English rear admiral and explorer, led an expedition in search of the Northwest Passage. However, his journey met with disaster and, three years later, the remains of he and his crew were found in the Canadian Arctic.1 Of the several search and rescue missions put together to find Franklin and his men, one was carried out by the H.M.S. Enterprise and included some four-legged crew members.

"Daddy," the Esquimaux dog of H. M. S. "Enterprise," sent in search of Sir John Franklin.

According to a bit of text that is alongside the above image

The intelligence of the Esquimaux dogs, and their utility, is well known. The portrait of "Daddy" represents a faithful companion of Captain Collinson, who accompanied him 2000 miles, and of whom many anecdotes might be narrated; but one of the most interesting attaches to a dog of Capt. Penny, "Sultan," who saved the life of one of Sir John Ross' men who had indulged too freely on a visit to the Felix, when in winter quarters. The man alluded to was found by Sultan floundering in the snow at midnight, and, by his repeated intimations of something having occurred, induced some of the men to leave the ship and follow him to the spot. A few minutes more and life would have been extinct.


The following images have much less information to go along with them, but you can click on the links to see what we know.

Boxser. [graphic]


High life : from the picture in the Vernon Gallery [graphic] / E. Landseer, R. A. painter ; H. Beckwith engraver


Dog [graphic]


Fox-hunting, p. 1 / [graphic] Howitt in et f.


First aid / [graphic] Diana Thorne


Finally, we can connect all of this to another recent post published here on the Beehive. A few weeks ago we learned a bit about the famed showman P. T. Barnum, his lavish estate called Iranistan, and how he managed to attract the Swedish Nightingale, Jenny Lind, to perform in America. [See: “No Mere Adventurer…”]

Today, we probably associate Barnum most closely with the rise of the traveling circus, but did you know he also dabbled in dog shows? 


Small broadside advertising "A Great National Dog Show."


As manager of Boston's Aquarial Gardens, Barnum arranged for a six-day show, "including every breed of dog known," with prize money going to the top two or three finishers in each category. Those who did not finish in the top tier were given "elegantly engraved Diplomas" as evidence of the quality of their canines. Among the various breeds and classes to be judged at this event were Newfoundlands, Pointers, Coach Dogs, and Esquimaux Dogs (just like "Daddy"). Below is an example of a prize diploma. 

An elegantly engraved Diploma, "Awarded by the judges to S. Hammond Esq. for his Blenheim Spaniel."


Based on the information provided in the advertisement above, Mr. Hammond stood to win $10 for his best-specimen spaniel. However, the last page of the three-page ad also lays out some stipulations from Mr. Barnum. To wit: 

Should the Manager desire to retain the Cash Premium Dogs on exhibition from and including June 23rd until and including Saturday June 28th, he shall have the right to do so, he continuing to provide the proper care, food and water for the Dogs FREE, and continuing to admit exhibitors of said dogs free during the time above specified.

Ever the entrepreneur and showman, it makes sense that Barnum would retain the right to attract more viewers for these prize-winning dogs. Cash paid is cash earned, I suppose. 


These are just a few examples of animal illustrations available here at the MHS. Try searching our online catalog, ABIGAIL, to see what else you can find, then consider Visiting the Library to work with material in our reading room!


1. "Sir John Franklin," Encyclopaedia Britannica, Accessed 2018-02-10 at https://www/


permalink | Published: Saturday, 10 February, 2018, 4:15 PM


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