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c. 1914

Cats and dogs dressed in tiny costumes

Long before the Internet, cat photos were still funny

As just about anyone who has ever used the Internet knows, cats are intrinsically funny.

But such knowledge predates the ‘net. And it was possessed by Harry Frees.

Frees made a career for himself photographing small animals, starting in 1902.  Three years later he started dressing them in tiny costumes.

Although his photographic subjects look rather stilted, they were very much alive, and Frees borrowed animals from anyone willing to lend them to them—including pet stores.


The clothes were made specifically for the animals by Frees’ housekeeper, and his mother. In fact, it was his family that had triggered the idea in the first place, when, at a family birthday party, a guest crowned a cat with a paper hat. 

When Frees took a photograph of said cat, he rushed it to a postcard manufacturer, and the cat in the hat was a hit.

In sometimes took Frees days, even weeks, of pain-staking and frustrating labor to get each shot, while employing pins, forks and other methods—not to mention infinite patience with the animals.

However, Frees restricted his activity to one quarter of a year. During the other three quarters, he recovered.

Making a date
Harry Frees / Library of Congress
Picking a pack
Harry Frees/ Library of Congress
Swinging
Harry Frees / Library of Congress
Acrobats
Harry Frees / Library of Congress

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