The first English and German language pigeon monographs
The first English-language monograph on pigeons is the English
pharmacist John Moore's 'Columbarium: Or the Pigeon House' from 1735
(Fig. 1). The successor, closely based on this, was the anonymous
'Treatise' in 1765, which was completed with illustrations.
German-language monographs came later. The first before 1800 also
anonymous. The first one published in Ulm (thus Ulm’ Pigeon Book) in
1790, ‘Nützliches und vollständiges Taubenbuch’ (useful and complete
pigeon book) (Fig. 2). The second from Berlin in 1798, 'Gründlicher
Unterricht in der Taubenzucht’ (thorough instruction in pigeon
breeding) (Fig. 3).
Fig. 1: Cover of the Columbariums of John Moore 1735 and Fig. 2
Cover of the Ulm’ Pigeon Book from 1790
Fig. 3: Cover and part of the contents of the ‘Thorough
instruction in pigeon breeding’
(Gründlichen Unterrichts in der Taubenzucht) of 1798.
Source: Sell, Taubenrassen 2009
Basics for the pigeon monographs
If we say ‘first monographs written about pigeons,
it does not mean that they are the first writings about pigeons.
Such existed before, embedded in writings on agriculture, in
scientific works on ornithology and as entries in dictionaries.
Moore was able to refer on, among other writings, Willughby's
ornithology in 1676 in Latin and 1678 in English. In Latin on the
ornithology by Aldrovandi 1599, 1610 (Fig. 5). There are 19
large-format pages about domestic pigeons in German in Gessner's
'Bird Book' in 1557 (Fig. 4). In the 1669 edition edited by Horst
there are 20 pages.
Fig. 4: Gesner, Conrad, Vogelbuch, Zürich 1557.
Fig. 5: Aldrovandi, Ornithologia 1610, plate 7, Source: Sell,
The anonymous 'Ulmer Taubenbuch' from 1790 is based, among others,
on Buffon's volume 4 on birds (1772) in the series 'Histoire
Naturelle' and, among other sources, also cites entries in the
Leipzig economic-physical treatises from 1753. The mystery about the
authorship of this Book seems solved. Moebes (1945) still suspected
Pastor Bürger. According to contemporary sources (Meusel 1797/1809)
the pastor Christoph Ferdinand Moser. According to Moebes (1945),
the book is not rare. It was reprinted in its entirety in the
publication '105 Years of Organized Pigeon Breeding in Germany'
published by the VDT.
The ‘Gründlicher Unterricht (thorough instruction in pigeon
Unlike the others, the 1798 book is hardly known. Moebes was also
not aware of it when he compiled the pigeon literature in 1945. It
is aimed at practical questions and does not go as far as the Ulm
Taubenbuch. It was announced with a short recommendation in the
'Imperially privileged Reichs-Anzeiger 1798, 2: "For pigeon lovers
and economists: Anyone who wants to keep pigeons for their benefit
and pleasure and multiply them with considerable advantage is
entitled to the following document, which has just been published
recommend. Thorough lessons in pigeon breeding. Written after thirty
years of experience, and published for general benefit and enjoyment
by a pigeon lover, 8 Berlin 1798. This work is available in all
bookstores in Germany for 4 g."
Fig. 6: Listing in the Imperially privileged Reichs-Anzeiger 1798, 2
The significance at that time is given in the 'Allgemeine
Literaturzeitung' from the year 1798, October, November, December
highlighted in a longer review: “Although we have instructions for
breeding pigeons in various economic writings, they are usually not
detailed enough and ignore many desirable things, which is why this
breeding is not carried out advantageously enough. The current
teaching must be given just praise for the fact that it far
surpasses all of its predecessors, and that it says briefly, but
well, everything that is important for pigeon lovers to know. This
booklet is divided into 14 sections. 1) Various species of pigeons.
2) Natural properties or instincts thereof. 3) Various diseases of
Importance and authorship of thorough teaching
The importance of the book in the development of pigeon literature
becomes clear from the fact that it appears in the bibliography in
subsequent writings such as Chr. A. Buhle 1844/1861. What is
remarkable in view of the fact that fancy pigeon breeding was not
yet organized at the time is that benefit and pleasure appear side
by side in the title. In addition to the native color-pigeons, the
owls, tumblers, drummed pigeons and others from distant countries
are also listed. An original is available in the Saxon State Library
in Dresden. The font was shown in the collection of a Swedish
library years ago. According to a post in a discussion forum, there
are more originals in Sweden. This probably also applies to the
Netherlands. The authorship of the writing is still open. Our own
copy has no sign. One of the previous owners had put his name down.
But it was painted over (Fig. 7).
Fig. 7: Signation of a former owner in the book from 1798
The author was unable to make any assumptions from what was visible;
perhaps a reader would recognize similarities to signatures in other
Fig 8: German Source Books on Pigeon Literature, the first one
contains a reprint of the Ulm’ Pigeon Book.
Aldrovandi (Aldrouandi), Ylyssis, Ornithologiæ, Francofvrti M.DC.X.
Aldrovandi, Ylyssis, Ornithologiæ, Bologna MDC (1600).
Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung vom Jahre 1798, Vierter Band, October,
November, December, Kleine Schriften: Oekonomie, Berlin, bei Mauer,
Gründlicher Unterricht in der Taubenzucht…
Anonymous, A Treatise on Domestic Pigeons, London MDCCLXV (1765),
Reprint Chicheley, Buckinghamshire 1972.
Doll, Paul, 105 Jahre organisierte Rassetaubenzucht in Deutschland,
Verlag des Verbandes Deutscher Rassetaubenzüchter, 2009 (contains a
complete reprint of the Ulm Pigeon Book)
Gesner, Conrad, Vogelbuch, Frankfurt am Main 1669, aus dem
Lateinischen mit Verbesserungen durch Georgium Horstium, Reprint
by the Schlütersche Verlagsanstalt and Printing House Hannover
Gesner, Conrad, Vogelbuch. Darin die art/natur und eigenschafft
aller vöglen / sampt jrer waren Contrafactur / angezeigt wirt: ...
Erstlich durch doctor Conradt Geßner in Latein beschriben: neüwlich
aber durch Rudolff Heüßlin mit fleyß in das Teütsch gebracht / und
in ein kurtze ordnung gestelt, Getruckt zu Zürich bey Christoffel
Froschouwer im Jar als man zalt M.D.LVII (1557)
Kaiserlich privilegirter Literaturanzeiger 1798/2: „Für
Taubenliebhaber und Oekonomen…“:
Meusel, Johann Georg, Das gelehrte Teutschland oder Lexikon der
jetzt lebenden Teutschen Schriftsteller. Fünfter Band Fünfte
Ausgabe, Lemgo im Verlage der Meyerschen Buchhandlung, 1797.
Meusel, Johann Georg, Lexikon der vom Jahr 1750 bis 1800
verstorbenen Teutschen Schriftsteller. Neunter Band Leipzig 1809.
Moebes, Werner K.G., Bibliographie der Tauben, Akademischer Verlag
Moore, J., Pigeon-House. Being an Introduction to Natural History of
Tame Pigeons. Columbarium: or the pigeon house, Printed for J.
Wilford, London 1735
Sell, A., Taubenrassen. Entstehung, Herkunft, Verwandtschaften.
Faszination Tauben durch die Jahrhunderte, Achim 2009
Ulmer Taubenbuch (Chr. F. Moser), Nützliches und vollständiges
Taubenbuch, oder genauer Unterricht von der Natur, Eigenschaften.
Verpflegung, Nahrungsmitteln, Krankheiten, Nutzen, Schaden usw.,
Ulm, Wohlersche Buchhandlung 1790 (anonym)
Ornithologia, Libres Tres, Londini MDCLXXVI (1676); The Ornithology
in Three Books. Translated into English, and enlarged with many
Additions throughout the whole work by John Ray, Fellow of the Royal
Society, London 1678.