Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  11 (1885–86), 766–74.

Plebian and Aristocratic Pigeons

F Satterthwaite



Relevant illustrations:

eng. [6]


Ornithology, Breeding, Commerce, Animal Behaviour, Anthropomorphism

People mentioned:

Robert L Fulton , George Ure

Publications cited:

Fulton 1876

    Observes that pigeons are 'nothing more nor less than a set of mongrels' (766), and reports that the growth of interest in America in 'the "pigeon fancy" [...] has been immense, and millions of dollars are invested in perfecting the fancy and toy breeds'. Insists, however, that the 'true pigeon fancier is anything but a mercenary mortal, and his pets assume under his care the same position in the world as the orchids of the floriculturist, valued far more highly by the producer than by the world which looks on and wonders at their surpassing loveliness'. Gives advice on several aspects of pigeon fancying based on information gleaned during a 'visit early last spring' to the 'loft' in Bordentown, New Jersey owned by Bunting Hankins (768), who 'at the second annual show of the New York Fanciers' Club [...] secured seventy prizes out of an entry of seventy-four pairs of birds, all of which were bred in his loft' (773). Relates how 'once the birds have mated [...] they are inseparably wedded to each other for life' and there is 'joy in the family when Mrs. Pigeon deposits her first egg' (769), while during the 'period of incubation Mr. Pigeon is a paragon of devotion. He even takes his turn in sitting on the eggs' (770). Comments that the 'breeding of toy pigeons is conducted on the same principle as breeding horses and dogs. The defects of the birds must be studied and overbalanced by proper crosses', and advises that in 'pigeon-breeding the birds generally get their constitution from their mothers, and knowing this, the breeder can either weaken or strengthen the breeds he has in hand', although what are 'called the high-grade birds, should never be interbred, even in the remotest degree' (773). Reveals that through 'incessant interbreeding for many generations, Mr. Hankins has been enabled to create a variety which he calls "parlor tumblers". The birds can not fly but six inches from the ground, and in this attempt they turn a complete double somersault' (774).

© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020

Printed from Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: An Electronic Index, v. 4.0, The Digital Humanities Institute <http://www.sciper.org> [accessed ]