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, Taubenrassen 2009

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 breeding)

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 pigeons….”.

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 books.


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. (1610).

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 1995.

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 Halle 1945.

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)

Willughby, Francis, 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.