Pigeon literature - entertaining, but also
useful for breeding
Sometimes I wished engaged breeders and opinion
leaders in the clubs were a little better acquainted with the
development of their breed and related breeds through past records.
Then they could better assess and take into account development
phases, progress and regression when planning the future of their
breed. It would also be good to recognize when the own breed
penetrates into the domain of other breeds through alleged 'breeding
progress' and when identical things are propagated as something new
under a different name.
If you happen to come across old illustrations
and terms that are not used today, you should hope that you will
find reference works in friends or in specialist libraries. Only
then can we differentiate between brief sketches, visions, a lack of
research when adopting claims and technical errors in drawings and
authentic testimonials. Not everything that is old is correct.
Today's fake news will also become old and therefore not correct. In
the science of history, there are methods and principles that could
be used to clarify also the credibility of pigeon literature.
Fig. 1: Taubenrasse, Entstehung, Herkunft und
Verwandtschaften, Achim 2009 (Pigeon Breeds, a historical review
with a discussion of the important pigeon literature over the
Inadvertently, the incorrect translation of the
then old German term 'Reüssian' and in later editions 'Reussisch'
and synonymously 'gehößerlt' for rough or feather-footed in the
German version in the bird book by Gessner 1557. Since the
feather-footed pigeon drawn is not unlike today's Trumpeter Pigeons.
Since then, the Trumpeters in the German literature have come from
Russia at Bechstein 1807, Brehm 1857 and in subsequent literature.
‘Reüssisch’ became ‘russisch’ (Russian).
On the other hand, the invention of the
porcelain-colored ice pigeons was a vision, which were so
artistically depicted in the Schachtzabel in 1910 with white finches
and a small dot on the tail feathers. The father of the thought was
Hugo du Roi, who, after the foreword helped Schachtzabel and the
artist to shape the visions. However, there were genetic
incompatibilities in the way. This did not rule out that they were
shown at exhibitions and rated as porcelain pigeons. The author of
the ice pigeon part in Wittig (1925) already wrote that there were
none. It was confirmed much later by the detection of 'porcelain
pigeons' by the author, gifted before 1900 by Hugo du Roi in the
Natural History Museum in Braunschweig. In the literature and the
standard, the description by Schachtzabel was retained until the
Abb. 2: Ice- and Porcellain Pigeons in the vision
of Schachtzabel (at the left) and in reality (at the right). Source:
Sell, Taubenrassen (Pigeon Breeds), Achim 2009
Fig. 3: Porcelain Pigeons in the reality bevor
1900 from the property of Hugo Du Roi, source: Rassetauben, Achim
Moore's attempt to connect the English carrier,
whom he and his friends apparently loved so much, with the legend of
a great messenger pigeon from the Turkish Empire was also intended,
and associated with a fogging of the facts.
Fig. 4: Cover of the German language monograph ‚Brieftauben
und ihre Verwandten‘ (Racing Homers and Relatives) and the route of
the Arab Pigeon Post about 1450, and the cover of Pigeon Genetics
The newer knowledge about breeding methods,
genetic linkages, correlations and incompatibilities are important
for practical breeding. What breeders used to do in the past, and
what they partially destroyed with unsuitable recipes, is now needed
for just a few generations.
Fig. 5: Sell, Taubenzucht. Möglichkeiten und Grenzen züchterischer
Gestaltung. Strukturen, Figuren, Verhalten, Zucht und Vererbung in
Theorie und Praxis, Achim 2019 (Sell, Pigeon Breeding, Achim 2019)
It is not only important for practical breeding.
Some knowledge about lethal and semi-lethal factors, relationships
between color classes and the historical roots of color names like
Almond would be desirable for the decision-makers with regard to
standardization and recognition. In pigeons, too, not every color
class is a separate breed, as genetic laymen often suspect.
3. April 2020