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The Quest For The Perfect Colour

Producing the perfect specimen,with the perfect colour


I discovered a book 'Exhibition & Pet Mice' by Tony Cooke L.R.I.C and was fascinated by the concept of using genetics to produce colour. A Frankenstein urge to tamper with genes and create truly living colours. Click here for brief bibliography and my source material

The first step was to purchase the best raw material for my palette. A gentleman in Brighouse, Yorkshire had a mousery full of excellent breeding stock. I purchased the finest trio he had available. (These were Chocolate and Tans. C/T's contain genes, which allow you to create different varieties, however I had to search high and low for the specific gene I required to create a specimen that would become a 'Breed Champion'.)

Within a few months I had produced a good strain of mice which were healthy and of a good size. I then began taking them to shows were they were judged, 'under the strictest rules laid down by the National Mouse Club'. I was slowly accepted into this community.


1/ To reach a high status within this group of people.
2/ To question and explore their motivation.
3/ To study their class structure.
2/ To win a breed cup.

The Variety to Win the Breed Cup



The proof of my success

I was tempted to try and produce a tri-coloured mouse (This is genetically impossible). However I settled on a Satin Sable, a type developed by Walter Maxey in the 1880's. A difficult colour prone to obesity and death (see text below on the red gene). I found the 'Satin' gene in Shropshire and acquired a pathetic example that I crossed into my pedigree stock. After several failures with my experiments and selective breeding I eventually produced the beast that won the Sable Cup in July 1987.


Section on basic colour varieties and how to breed them.


Their features and body confirmation have to be of a certain type. All examples that do not meet these criteria have to be destroyed, to prevent them contaminating the pure blood line.


Section on Fatal genetics...obese gene... waltzing gene. Double lethal gene

The comitee members discovered I was an Artist and asked me to become the cartoonist for the 'National Mouse Club News' this I did and created 'The Diary of a Thinking Mouse'. This modest position within the organisation enabled me to observe the heirachy and social structure of this group. I was never socially accepted and was treated as an outsider. The majority of the people I came into contact with were from the North of England or the poorer suburbs of London. They were Council Workers, caretakers, labourers and retired people. As a group it would be safe to describe them as, mainly 'Working Class' and as is typical with this this class of society, they were extremely dull of mind and poorly educated.

Walter Maxey
Father of the Fancy



Click here for Artist's Statement (?) and links


This was selected for "Softcopy" exhibition

at Kimura Gallery, University of Alaska, April 3-17, 2006.