Facts and thought on the origin of the Gimpel Pigeons
Pigeon standards are preceded by brief notes on the origin of the
breeds. Often it remains vague. In the German standard, 'probably
Dalmatia/Illyria' is written for Gimpel-Pigeons. Why? Gimpel-Pigeons
from all what is known came to Germany from Austria after 1800. G.
Wermann according to a notice in the Korthsche Taubenzeitung of 1856
saw them the first time in Germany in 1822. The origin in Austria
will have had to do with the connections of the Habsburgs as the
Austrian ruling dynasty with the regions of the Mediterranean. For
the oldest known preserved stuffed specimen of a Black-winged Gimpel
dates from 1817 and comes from the imperial aviaries of Franz I (II)
in the Viennese ‘Hochburg’. The regions of Dalmatia/Illyria are
spatially close. However, nothing is known of great pigeon breeding
traditions there in this period, even from travel reports to these
The designation of the specimen in 1817 as 'Columba domestica
phyrrhula' does not provide any information about the origin. It is
the Latin name after the male bullfinchs song bird (German
‘Dompfaff’ or 'Gimpel'), which is similarly coloured with a red
breast and belly. Gimpel is then also the name used by Neumeister in
his book in 1837 and determines further usage in Germany.
Abb. 307 und 308: Fotos: NMW 87.776 Gimpeltaube „Columba domestica
Wien 1817. Von Sr. Majestät Terrasse“ = aus den kaiserlichen
Volieren Franz I (II) in der Wiener Hofburg. NMW 87.774 „Feuertaube“
Wien 1810-1812. Von Sr. Majestät Terrasse“ = aus den kaiserlichen
Volieren Franz I (II) in der Wiener Hofburg (Naturhistorisches
Source: Sell, Taubenrassen. Entstehung, Herkunft, Verwandtschaften,
In 1867 an article appears in which the name 'Illyrian pigeon' is
used. It is not substantiated and backed up by facts. Latin names
for domestic pigeons were 'in' for some time to enhance the status
of pigeon keeping in public. For example, Gustav Prütz later used
the name 'Gimpel' followed by 'C. Illyrica' in brackets as an
addition. An example of how easily assumptions are interpreted as
facts and passed on without criticism.
A recent English-language standard on Archangel/Gimpel states that
the Copper Blackwing (Archangel) was developed and perfected in
England. This can also cause misunderstandings. Archangel were not
developed there in the sense of being created. They came to England
from Ghent in 1839 as finished breeds. They have been thereafter
further developed, like other pigeon breeds and the Gimpel-Pigeons
inclusive of the Archangels on the continent. One with already a lot
of shine in the body plumage is illustrated by Eaton 1858 in his
Treatise on the Art of Breeding and Managing Pigeons.
Fig. 2: Blackwing Copper Gimpel at G. Neumeister, Das Ganze der
Taubenzucht, Weimar 1837; Fig. 3: Eaton, Treatise…
Source: Sell, Pigeon Genetics. Applied Genetics in the Domestic
Pigeon, Achim 2012
Gimpel-Pigeons were probably more widespread in Austria after 1800
than previously assumed. This is shown by several drawings of
pigeons by Leopold Brunner the Elder (1788-1866), which unexpectedly
turned up in the archives of the Vienna
National Library. Experts have dated them to 1850 or older.
Blue-wings were referred to as bloodfinch (Blut-Gimpel) field pieons.
A black-wing as 'Crested Upper Austria. Gimpeltaube' and some
white-wings as Salzburg Crested Gimpeltauben.
Fig. 4: Paintings of Gimpel-Pigeons in the Vienna National Library
from Leopold Brunner the Elder (1788-1866)
A collection of pictures that should also be interesting for
breeders of other breeds: