A Christmas Gift :: Baltimore Style

In my house, my wife and I do not exchange Christmas gifts with each other.  As chaotic as this time of year can be – with the planting of the tree, the decorating of the pad, Christmas pageants, holiday parties, with finding that perfect special something for all those on our lists, etc., I think we quietly figure why pile any more onto that stress.

But that’s not to say we don’t look out for each other.

A few weeks back Mrs. Moxie said to me, “You know what I really want for Christmas?  One of those … ceramic climbing cats.”  Now, I am aware that unless you live in my neck of the woods, Baltimore, you may not have any idea of what she/we speak. If you were me, I mean – you may have looked at her and said, “What?!”

A “ceramic climbing cat”. Well, I think it probably best to just show you. I grabbed these pics on an early morning excursion last week. There happens to be a small population in a neighborhood very near me.

ceramic climbing cats brick and stone tudor

pair kitschy ceramic climbing cats

single ceramic climbing cat

A little kitschy, right?

Baltimore is a Pretty Kitshcy Place

And I have been meaning to write a little bit more about, well, that. I did a piece last year for Arne Salvesen’s Useful Spaces  – Pink Flamingos, Blue Crabs and Some Theories :: The Overspilling Kitsch of Baltimore (not maintained). It kinda gives you a sense of where I am coming from.  Ha!

Baltimore’s Wild & Wonderful Hand Painted House Screens || Book: The Painted Screens of Baltimore

Anyways, these little guys are called Camark Cats. They are traced to Camark Pottery Company, a significant player in the chronicles of Arkansas’s rich (pottery) lore.

Camark Cats :: History and Background

According to this article (and likely the only one dedicated to the topic solely), “The Camark hanging cat drew inspiration from France, where life-size terra cotta cats were placed on roof tops throughout Paris and the French countyside to ward off mice and rats.”

According to the Encyclopedia of Arkansas, “… In the 1950s, Camark Pottery continued to mass-produce pottery in bright pastel colors. Its business continued well into the 1960s with the extremely popular Climbing Cats, salt and pepper shakers, and other novelty wares.”

Apparently these little guys sold very well in the 50s and 60s, and for some reason, they have survived very well … here in Baltimore.  In white, typically, and glazed, they are not necessarily the easiest things to get your hands on.  There is salvage, and 2nd hand stores, but beyond that – I remember the Mrs. telling me they occasionally pop onto ebay.

So … one afternoon, a few weeks back, and maybe trying to fulfill my Christmas gift giving duty, I decided to give Craig’s List and eBay a quick look.  And this is what I uncovered…

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So I mailed her. And in her very efficient (I am gonna win this … boyyye) way, she brought it on home. Not a true Camark – this one was made in Japan and in gray.

I am not sure yet where we are going to hang it.  Interesting also to see how the hanging is to be done with a single key hole.  While most, of course, hang on the exterior (like so many eagles), we’ll likely carve out a little space on the indoors.

ceramic climbing cat in bubble wrap box

keyhole ceramic climbing cat


Cats and Me

I have written about (our) cats, well, a lot maybe for a home improvement blog.

My guy Marz, who you may have seen a few times on the blog, isn’t really doing all that well.  He’s 16.  My wife says, and insistent that we will not get any new cats now, he’s irreplaceable! … ourselves a great little shine to the man, the myth, one of the most rock-hardingest … tomcats there ever was or ever will be.  *Saddened*  Anyways …

– I hope that Santa brought you all of what you wanted and I’ll be back on the posting thing again soon.  Happy New Years to you; be safe and enjoy. ~jb