I was recently reading an article on a relevant topic, namely Why Does the Internet Love Cats?. The article’s LOLcat timeline made me interested in the history of LOLcats – by definition “cute cat pictures with witty captions“. Know your meme dates the earliest known LOLcat to the 1870s, when photographer Harry Pointer photographed cats posed in different situations, adding humorous text.
But you know, I think the LOLcat thing can be traced back much further in time. Already in the middle ages, people understood the delight of combining cats and bad spelling.
The medieval LOLcat is a pewter badge, picturing a cat with a mouse, standing on a scroll with the caption: VISI MUS (here is the mouse), which, true to LOLcat tradition is a misspelled version of the french ‘voici mus’. Other versions exclaim the same in medieval lolspeak as VISI MU, VISIS MIN and voisiu.ipab. I’m sure the medieval peeps were like LOL upon seeing that.
The picture above shows the medieval LOLcat as a replica by Billy and Charlie. The original badges belong to the Medieval collection of the Salisbury Museum and are described in detail in Salisbury Museum Medieval Catalogue: Part 2, Pilgrim Souvenirs and Secular Badges by Brian Spencer.
The cat badges are dated to the 15th century. They’ve been popular in their time, since they are not exclusive to Salisbury. The same type of badges have also been excavated from Canterbury and London.
So there you have it, the first ever lulz.
ps. Many thanks to the Neulakkko facebook page community and especially Anne Marie for assisting me on this important scientific quest. You all rock.
Maailman eka LOLcat! Suomenkielinen versio tyssäsi siihen, etten tiennyt/osannut päättää onko se sittenkin LOLkissa. No, te tiedätte. Jo keskiajalla osattiin arvostaaa kissan ja väärin kirjoitetun tekstin riemukasta yhdistelmää.