The Boy Fancier

Published in 1912, the title of this book really hasn't aged well. Although even in 1912 I imagine the title could easily have been misconstrued.

Looking up the word 'fancier' in the dictionary, I found that it means: "a connoisseur or enthusiast of something, especially someone who has a special interest in or breeds a particular animal." I hadn't known that the word had this association with animal breeding.

Nature offered this review of the book:

FROM his professional training as a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the author of this well-illustrated volume is thoroughly qualified to give sound and trustworthy information with regard to the general care, feeding, and treatment in illness of animals kept as pets, or, like poultry and goats, reared for profit. And although the work before us is primarily intended for the benefit of young persons, it will be found equally valuable for those of more mature age, who, for purposes of pleasure or profit—or both combined—devote their attention to the keeping and rearing of dogs, cats, goats, guinea-pigs, rabbits, squirrels, poultry, pigeons, cage-birds, &c.

     Posted By: Alex - Wed May 26, 2021
     Category: Animals | Books | 1910s

I can see where you would read something into the title where the meanings have changed over time, Alex.

I parsed the title where "boy" was meant to refer to a young person in general. I remember the term "fancier" as used in the term "cat fancier" or "bird fancier" which I still hear used in the present day. The confusion probably comes from the close association in the title. The term "pet" could have been used in place of "boy" and, for today's reader, it would have a slightly different connotation, that which was more in line with the original intent.

Don't you just love language and the way it shifts meaning over time?
Posted by KDP on 05/26/21 at 12:09 PM
I suspect that anyone who, in 1912, saw a double meaning in the title kept it to themselves because knowledge of something implied an association with it.

I knew 'fancier' could be associated with animals because of the magazine "Cat Fancy" (there was a similar "Dog Fancy" but only 'those kind' of people like dogs, so . . .). The magazine lives on in the form of and its "Life with Cattitude" approach.

Posted by Phideaux on 05/26/21 at 08:20 PM
Forget crypto — there’s a fortune to be made in breeding guinea pigs!
Posted by Brian on 05/27/21 at 08:42 PM
Posted by Phideaux on 05/27/21 at 09:33 PM
Isn't this the companion volume to "Scouting for Boys"?

@Brian: after all, pigs is pigs.
Posted by Richard Bos on 05/29/21 at 06:32 AM
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