The agate gemstone as the
namesake for pigeon coloring. Some
pigeon colors are named after gemstones. Typical for most agates as
jewelry are stripe-shaped, color-contrasting deposits. There are
also unstriped and uniform-colored agates. The color palette is wide
and ranges from white to black. In between are 'Pigeon Blood
Agates', or more simply 'Red Agates', named after the color of
Fig. 1: Agate stone and red
agate slice (own figure).
In the 'Treatise on Domestic
Pigeons' published anonymously in London in 1765, the word Agate is
not used in the discussion of English short-faced tumblers. Eaton,
on the other hand, used the term in 1851, almost 90 years later when
describing the breeding of the Almond Tumbler, in the wide range of
colors. Purebred white young from Almond breeding, in which he
describes the genetic eye defects, are white agates for him. He
knows them, but like many today's breeders not their cause. Black
tigers (mottles) are black agates for him. He also listed red and
yellow agates, which are essential components in the breeding of
Fig. 2: Red Agate English
Short Faced Tumbler und a Red-Agate hen, a Kite hen and an Almond
cock. Source: Sell, Pigeon Genetics, Achin 2012.
In his day, breeders still
believed that black mottles could be successfully used to breed
Almond tumblers. They did not know that the white markings on black
and dun-colored pigeons were genetically due to different hereditary
factors than the white markings on reds and yellows. The proportion
of well-colored almonds was correspondingly negligible. Another 50
years later, at the time of Fulton (1876), this error was recognized
and blacks were banned from Almond breeding. 140 years after the
writing of Fulton, they reappeared at shows and reports from the
lofts, based on the names used by Eaton.
Abb. 3: Revival of Mottles
as Dun Agate, and black Mottles at Tegetmeier 1868.
Not as in the standards as
tigers or rosette tigers, but as dun agates and also black agates.
There may be efforts to standardize terms in pigeon breeding and
genetics, but there are obviously always nostalgics who do not want
to let old terms be forgotten. There are also jokers who test the
flexibility and literary memory of the breeders.
Anonymous, A Treatise on
Domestic Pigeons, London, 1765.
Eaton, John Matthews, A
Treatise on the Art of Breeding and Managing the Almond Tumbler,
Fulton, R., The Illustrated
Book of Pigeons, London, Paris, New York and Melbourne 1876.
Sell, Axel, Pigeon Genetics.
Applied Genetics in the Domestic Pigeon, Achim 2012.
Tegetmeier, W.B., Pigeons:
Their Structure, Varieties, Habits, and Management, London 1868.