Illustrations of pigeons. Art or fake
Old does not automatically mean true. This also applies to
historical works of art for pigeons. However, the originals are not
fake in the sense of deliberately misleading. Most of the time,
there are technical errors and wrong perception. Often, however,
visions are to be conveyed in which the painter disregards the
possibilities of breeding and underestimates genetic hurdles. That
of one's own will or at the request of the client. The works become
fake when they are shown in the media today without comment and are
distributed in images and sculptures without any indication of the
lack of realism. Occasionally, to suggest that it had once existed.
The white tails of the red and yellow English pouters
Well-known examples are the text by Robert Fulton and the
accompanying drawings by Ludlow in the illustrated pigeon book by
Fulton (1876) with the white tails of the red and yellow English
Pouters. Looking back at the statements made at the time about the
pairing of the colors in that breed with each other, one can see
that there were no genetically white tails in the breed, but ashes
with pale ashen tails. Because from ash red x black, 'Strawberry'
(called 'Sandy' in Scotland after Fulton) with colored tails have
been raised. If the red and yellow had genetically been white-tails,
then white tail feathers would not only have appeared in Strawberry,
but in subsequent generations also in blue and black. The beautiful
pictures by Ludlow and not long after by Schachtzabel (1910) remain
contagious to this day and irritate inexperienced viewers with
regard to the genetic basis.
Fig. 1: Red and yellow English Pouters from Fulton 1876 and Fig. 2
from Schachtzabel 1910
If one can excuse the similar figures in Schachtzabel with a lack of
knowledge of the genetic basis, one should know better today. Such
images irritate breeders and give a boost to critics who are
desperately looking for signs of color in the tail feathers of red
and yellow in order to blame the pigeons as a fault and their
current breeders as unable.
Fig. 3: Misrepresentations and fakes, and reality at the bottom
The irritation of the Thuringian Pouters breeders for over a century
It hit the breeders of the Thuringian Pouters even worse. Even
before the name Thuringian Pouter was established.
The German White Head Pouter
As a forerunner of the desired variant, the 'German White Head
Pouter' is described by Prütz in 1904 among the medium-sized pouter
pigeons. The coloring was "black, blue, red or yellow, the head, the
wings and the tail white, the rest of the plumage colored, so monk
drawing" (literally on p. 14). With this, however, Prütz describes
the monk pied marking in the section of ‘color pigeons’ with colored
abdomen (Fig. 4 left). There is no other evidence that this marking
existed in pouters. His painter, H. Susenbeth did not follow him.
Neither in the text specification nor the reality with the pouter
Because with these there should have been the monk marking as a
forerunner of the white heads of the Slovak pouter and the monks of
the Silesian and Hessian pouter, with `white head` and white wings
and otherwise colored, long before. Perhaps he was also irritated by
the statements made by Prütz in his book of 1885 (p. 183ff.),
in which Prütz for the French
Pouters confused red and yellow with white, as did Fulton before.
Annotation: Whether ‘white head’ or ‘monk’ as a term does not follow a common logic, it differs from breed to breed.
Fig. 4: Monk pied marking of the section of color pigeons using the
example of the Thurgau Monk (left), Baldhead pied marking as vision
for pouters by Susenbeth (center) and the monk pied marking with
white head and white flights on the example of a Hessian Pouter
Susenbeth in his painting (Fig. 4 in the middle) obviously was
impressed by the baldhead pied marking of the English Short Faced
Tumblers, known from the pictures in Fulton. He thus painted a black
peak crested pouter with that design, white head, flight, tail and
abdomen. Thus, neither the colored pigeon variant of the monk
marking specified by Prütz in the text, nor the monk marking of the
The Thuringian Pouter at Schachtzabel
The name 'Thuringian Pouter was only introduced by Schachtzabel in
1910. It is a peak crested pouter, which exists as self and also
occurs in the monk marking. Prütz required the German White-Head
Pouter to have a white head, white flights and a white tail.
Schachtzabel makes a difference for black color base pigeons and for
ash reds. For blue and black he only requires a white head and white
wings. The other plumage, and with it the tail, are colored. This is
the monk marking of the pouter pigeons shown on the right in Fig. 4.
Deviating from this, it calls for red and yellow (genetically ash
red), as with the English Pouters, white flights and tails as well
as white lower abdomen. Schachtzabel's informants were the then
experts K. Katterfeld, O. Winkler and P. König I-Ruhla. And they,
like Schachtzabel with the English Pouters, apparently mistook the
bright tail feathers and the bright underbelly of the red and yellow
ones for 'white'. And so Schoener, as the painter of the picture
panels at Schmalenbach, also revived the Baldhead marking of
Susenbeth for the yellow individual. In Fig. 5 far left, somewhat
covered by the black Bohemian Pouter, also peak-crested, and then
two plain-headed Silesians.
Fig. 5: Thuringian Pouter yellow, Bohemian Pouter black and Silesian
Pouters blue grizzle and plate (or white head) red at Schachtzabel
The monk pied marking of the Thuringians in the change of the
standard descriptions until 2002
The confusion was not over for the breeders. In 1926 the standard
description of the pigeon breeds by E. Schmidt in the publishing
house of the ‘Geflügel-Börse’ in Leipzig was published in 1926. In
the text there is no difference to Schachtzabel. In the standard
drawing by Carl Witzmann, however, a contradiction to the text with
a black Thuringian ‘monk’ in the baldhead piebald marking. Thus,
back to the vision (or error) of Susenbeth in 1904! This mistake was
apparently repeated in the standard description from 1934, because
Vojtech Mrstik is no better off in his Czech pigeon book than the
German breeders and he uses the drawing as a model for his work
(written before 1950 and published posthumously in 2009).
Fig. 6: The vision of a black 'baldhead pouter' as a standard
drawing in the German Book of Standards from 1926 and 1934 (at the
right from Mrstik 2009).
Better known than these pictures is the colored group picture by
Witzmann (here in Fig. 9 below in the collage). Blue and black monks
are shown correctly for the first time, but the yellow and reds are
shown incorrectly again with white tails and white lower abdomen.
Because it was so visually beautiful, it was all the more harmful
for orientation in breeding and the judgement of the red and yellow
and ash red and ash yellow bars at the shows.
The following period is characterized by incomprehensible
formulations in breed descriptions and the standards in 1951 and
1954. A Thuringian with white wings and a white lower abdomen, but
with a colored tail, is shown as a standard drawing (Fig. 7 left).
This has even tempted breeders to try to transfer the white lower
abdomen from magpie pouters. In some individuals this could still be
seen at shows, but it was not entirely successful. Wolfgang
Schreiber (2015) suspected that a similar pied marking originally
existed as a 'Jacobin marking' among French Pouters. However, with a
deeper head cut. The white reaching down to the breast
In the 1951 and 1954 standards, the Thuringians is shown besides the
also peak-crested Bohemian Pouter. This painting, too, measured
against the existing animals, was drawn incorrectly with the monk
marking of the color pigeon section (Fig. 7).
Fig. 7: Thuringian and Bohemian Pouters in the standards 1951 and
1954 and the photo of a Thuringian ash yellow monk from a German
breeder from 1961. Unmistakably in reality an ashy, and not white
tail, as well as an ashy lower abdomen. Source: W. M. Levi, Photo
Corrections in the German ring binder of the standards of pigeon
In the ring binder from 2002, reality is taken into account. The
text is now clear for all colors: Monks in Thuringian Pouters have
white head and 7-10 white flights. The rest of the plumage is
colored. For red and yellow, the Thuringian requires a light color
for the lower abdomen and tail, no longer white. In the standard
drawing by Jean-Louis Frindel in the yellow bar individual, the
lower abdomen is clearly visible in beige, not as distinct
unfortunately the colored tail. The standard presentation at the
Bohemian Pouter was also corrected in 2002. In accordance with the
Czech standard, it has been renamed Moravian Pouter. Only the head
is white. This means, they have returned to the Bohemian Pouter
under the new name 'Moravian Pouter' and the pied marking shown by
Schachtzabel in 1910.
Fig. 8: Thuringian Pouter (left) and Moravian Pouter in the standard
drawing from 2002 (Jean Louis Frindel), far right the Moravian
Pouter in the book of the Central Expert Committee of Pigeon
Fanciers in the Czech Republic 2011.
What happened if?
The starting point for the misunderstandings were false perceptions
and also genetically unrealizable ideals. If Susenbeth had followed
the description given to him in the text by Prütz of the colour
pigeon’s monk pied marking in his drawing in 1904, the breeders
would probably have quickly succeeded in transferring this monk
marking into their pouters. The development would have taken a
completely different direction. Instead, Susenbeth was probably
inspired by the beautiful white baldhead tumblers at Fulton. This,
together with the false perception of ashy tails and ashy underbelly
color as white, may have triggered the following confusions.
If you observe today's art paintings and sculptures and the numerous
'likes' on social media for overt fakes, then you don't seem far
from starting a new cycle of misunderstandings like in 1904 for
Thuringian Pouters and even earlier in 1876 for English Pouters.
Artists, too, would sometimes be well advised not to lose sight of
reality and genetic laws too much.
Fig. 9: Representations and misrepresentations of Thuringian Monks
Czech Pigeon Association, Okrasnych Holubu Ceske Republiky, National
Pigeons of the Czech Republic, Prague 2011, Czech and German
Fulton, R., The Illustrated Book of Pigeons. London, Paris, New York
and Melbourne 1876.
German pigeon standard in color, ring binder, undated with pictures
by Jean Louis Frindel, German language
Levi, Wendell M., Encyclopedia of Pigeon Breeds, Jersey City 1965.
Mrstik, Vojtech, Holubi plemena a jejich chov. Dosud nevydane dilo,
Napsane v letech 1942-1950. Pohledy do history. Prague 2009 Vaclay
Tichy, nakladatel. Pigeon breeds and their breeding. Previously
unpublished work, written in the years 1942-1950. Series: Insights
into History. Prague 2009 Vaclay Tichy, editor (German and Czech)
Prütz, G., Illustrirtes Mustertaubenbuch, Hamburg 1885.
Prütz, G., The Types of Pouters, their natural history, breeding and
care, with 13 plates by H. Susenbeth = Stettin, Berlin, 1904 (German
Schachtzabel, E., Illustrated magnificent work of all pigeon races
(watercolors by A. Schoener), Würzburg o.J. (1910), German language.
Schreiber, Wolfgang, Brünner und Französische Kröpfer,
Geflügelzeitung 3/2015, pp. 8-11.
Sell, Axel, Genetics of Pigeon Coloration, Achim 2015, German
Sell, Axel, Pigeon Genetics, Applied Genetics in the Domestic
Pigeon, Achim 2012
The Standard of Fancy Breeds, S. Jürgens Verlag Munich, 1951 (first
edition), 1954 (third edition) with drawings by Carl Witzmann,
Reutlingen, and Kurt A. Meißner, Dresden, German language
The Standards of Fancy Breeds, with 188 pattern images and numerous
text images (Karl Witzmann). Published by Ernst Schmidt. Leipzig
publisher of the Expedition ‘Geflügel-Börse’ (Richard Freese), 1926,