Emil Schachtzabel, Illustriertes Prachtwerk sämtlicher Tauben-Rassen, Würzburg 1910: On the indication of the year of publication in books

Some publishers seem to believe that their books will remain current longer if they do not give a year of publication. As if an expiry date was pre-programmed with the year of publication. Emil Schachtzabel's 'Illustrierte Prachtwerk sämtlicher Taubenrassen' also does not contain a year, as do many old books. It was printed and published by the Königliche Universitätsdruckerei H. Stürtz A.G. Würzburg.

Moebes, in his Bibliography of Pigeons of 1945, gives 'about 1911' as the date of publication. 1911 is also found at Erich Müller 1979. Levi mentions the year 1910 in the bibliography of the book 'The Pigeon' as does Paul Doll in the 'Chronik 100 Jahre BDRG' (Chronicle 100 years BDRG) from 1981. However, in another chronicle from 1995 he wrote from 1909. 1910 was plausible because the book was advertised in January 1911 in the 'Zeitschrift für Gartenkunst und verwandte Gebiete', indicating that the book was not published much earlier and not later (Sell, Taubenrassen 2009). Finally, very hidden, and not identified by the author's name, it can also be found among the books listed in the  Bulletin of the German book trade (Börsenblatt des deutschen Buchhandels) published in 1910.

Fig. 1: Advertisement in the 'Zeitschrift für Gartenkunst und verwandte Gebiete' January 1911.

Recent offers of the book by antiquarians and private individuals today almost always state 1906. Why 1906? Superficially one might think because antiquarian books, unlike new ones, rise in esteem with age. The reason will be different. The mistake of a librarian of the library of the 'American Museum of Natural History', who handwrote an incorrect estimate in the entry form! This year 1906 (Fig. 2) was disseminated worldwide with digitisation.

Fig. 2: Incorrect year 1906 in handwriting at the entry form at the digitalized copy

Why misjudgement? The date of publication could plausibly be narrowed down to 1910 or earlier by the advertisement in January 1911. That 1906 is too early could have been realized by indications in the book itself. Attached to the colour plates of the Show Antwerp and Show Homer are standard descriptions "taken from the work 'Der Show Homer und Show Antwerp' by Körber with the author's permission". Körber's book also without a year, but listed in 1907 among the new German publications in the German Börsenblatt. Thus, later than 1906 as the supposed year for the Illustrierte Prachtwerk.


Fig. 3: Table for Show Antwerps in the first edition and the hint on the source for the written standard text: In English translation: Taken from the work ‘The Show Homer and Show Antwerp’ from Körber with the author’s permission

The book also contains a colour plate with long-beaked Highflyers. The standard description of the Stralsund Highflyer illustrated with it, was drawn up by the Club of Breeders of the Stralsund Highflyer on 2 November 1908 in Stettin. This is another and more obvious contradiction to the publication date in 1906.


Fig. 4: German Long-Beaked Highflyer breeds in the first edition with reference to the source of the printed standard text for Stralsund Highflyers, drawn up by the Club in November 1908.

Exemplarily, the example of the 'Schachtzabel' also shows that many collectors enjoy owning books more than reading them, otherwise those who state 1906 would have had to notice the contradictions in the content.

For legal education, it could be a good exercise to show the consequences of negligent, grossly negligent and fraudulent misinformation about the publication date of old works. A guaranteed but inaccurate publication date could be interpreted as a defect. The work of Wrede 2003 on art and sales law from such aspects is interesting. Appreciation of art treasures, and such illustrated splendid works are likely to be among them, depends on many influencing factors, including age, attention in specialist literature and chronological classification in a series of similar works. Here, it is not a shift of the year of publication to an earlier century. Nevertheless, at least for those interested in the history of pigeon breeds, the wrong information makes a difference here too. For example, the drawing by the animal painter A.J. Simpson circulated by the English magazine 'Feathered World' in 1908 is regarded as the initial spark for the creation of the modern long beaked Magpie Highflyers. If 1906 had been correct, the German drawings of the modernized Long Beaked Magpies by Anton Schöner for Schachtzabel would have had the priority. 


Fig. 5: The famous ‚Simpson-Magpie‘ from the English ‚Feathered World 1908 (left). Table with Long Beaked Magpie Tumblers, painted by Anton Schöner for the first 1910 edition (right). In the centre Berlin Long-Beaked Highflyers from the anthology ‘Pigeon Breeds’ edited by Dr. Alfred Lavalle and Max Lietze. Without year of publishing, but from the date of the preface finished october 1905.  

In the occasionally escalating euphoria about the English and German Magpies around and after 1910, the fact that in Germany the ‘Berlin Lange’ had already been formed into a tall, long-beaked pigeon breed (Fig. 5) got lost. And that too, as with the English Magpies, through crossings with French Bagdettes (Sell, Taubenzucht 2019).


Doll, Paul, Chronik 100 Jahre BDRG, Self Publishing Bund Deutscher Rassegeflügelzüchter e.V. 1981 (p. 307)

Doll, Paul, Die Geschichte der Rassetaubenzucht in Deutschland (History of Fancy Pigeon Breeding in Germany), Verlag des Verbandes Deutscher Rassetaubenzüchter 1995 (S. 30)

Lavalle, Dr. Alfred, und Max Lietze (Hrsg.), Die Taubenrassen (Pigeon Breeds), Fritz Pfenningstorff, Berlin o.J., nach dem Vorwort datiert 1905 (photo of Berlin ‚Lange‘ following page 308)

Levi, The Pigeon, Sumter S.C., 1969, Reprint of the 1963 edition (p. 636)

Möbes, Werner K.G., Bibliographie der Tauben, Akademischer Verlag Halle 1945 (p. 176)

Müller, Erich, Die Welt der Rassetauben (The World of Fany Pigeons), Reutlingen 1978 (p. 561)

Schachtzabel, Emil, Illustriertes Prachtwerk sämtlicher Tauben-Rassen (Illustrated Book of all Pigeon Breeds), Würzburg, no year (1910)

Sell, Axel, Taubenrassen. Entstehung, Herkunft, Verwandtschaften. Faszination über die Jahrhunderte (Pigeon Breeds. Formation, origin, relationships. Fascination over the centuries), Achim 2009 (p. 312)

Sell, Axel, Taubenzucht. Möglichkeiten und Grenzen züchterischer Gestaltung (Pigeon Breeding. Possibilities and limits of breeding design, Achim 2019, S. 348-350)

Wrede, Christian, Kopien – Imitationen – Fälschungen. Kunst und Kaufrecht (Copies - Imitations - Fakes. Art and Sales Law), Dissertation Heidelberg 2003.