25 Cats Name Sam,
and One Blue Pussy
25 Cats Name Sam, and One Blue Pussy
Andy Warhol and Charles Lisanby
9 x 6 in.; 22.9 x 15.2 cm.
Gift of Jim and Gladys Lisanby
This illustrated book is one example of the many small books of illustrations that Andy Warhol produced in the 1950s as gifts to both friends and important persons whom he wanted to impress. The books always focused on one subject—whether it be boys, fairies, flowers, or cats—and featured colored ink drawings done in Andy’s distinctive drawing style. Wanting to further increase the value of these books—and thus the prestige that its recipients would feel upon being gifted it—Andy would intentionally misnumber the books. People whom he wanted to impress would receive copies with low numbers, implying that they were worthy of one of the first editions of the book, and quite a few more friends received copies playfully labeled 69.
Although its title promises twenty-six cats, 25 Cats Named Sam actually includes only sixteen Sams, as well as the one blue pussy. When they met in 1955, Andy had already finished the drawings that were to be the body of the book, but was having trouble coming up with a title. Glancing through his sketches, Charles playfully threw out 25 Cats Named Sam, and One Blue Pussy and Andy immediately ran with the idea. As Charles remembers:
“It was so funny. There is no text. The text is the title, and I wrote the title, which was, I don’t know, an amusing thing…. He said, “What should I call it?” I said just that. So. He wrote that down, which, I think, is funny”.
The spelling error, an unfortunate omission of “d” from the end of the third word, was not Charles’ fault. At the time, Andy enlisted his mother—whose distinctive writing he greatly admired—to do the calligraphy for all of his designs and illustrations. Always insisting that beauty arose from imperfection, he was inclined to keep errors such as this in his finished designs.