Press Photo of a Girl beside a Giant Animatronic Black Cat Sent by the Irish Free State to the San Diego World's Fair
Los Angeles: Acme, 1935. 8-3/8 x 6-5/8 inches. Silver gelatine photograph with text label and ownership stamps to verso. Light soiling to verso; tear to text label; small, recent sticker to verso bearing alphanumerical code (bookseller's sticker?). Very Good.
Press photograph documenting the Irish Free State's rather unusual contribution to the 1935 San Diego World's Fair: a giant, 2 ton, 18 feet high by 22 feet long animatronic black cat named Big Tom, who could meow and presumably make small movements. Although black cats are traditionally associated with ill omens, the devil, and/or witchcraft in Western superstition, Ireland has a history of associating black cats with good luck in some cases: the Lucky Black Bog Cat is meant to bring prosperity and good fortune to those who encounter it; brides who have a black cat rub against their legs are supposed to have happy marriages; and a black cat crossing one's path on New Years' Day connotes good luck for the new year.
The Irish Free State had every reason to want to strengthen its already strong ties with the U.S, which had supported Irish independence and in which more Irish people lived than in Ireland at that time. Big Tom would go on to tour the U.S. after the fair, ending with a stop in Washington, D.C., and a visit with President Roosevelt.