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Letter 1957

Darwin, C. R. to Tegetmeier, W. B.

21 Sept [1856]

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    States his requirements with regard to pigeons and his interest in ducks and rabbits. Inquires about poultry seen at Leith Hill.

Transcription

Down Bromley Kent

Sept. 21st

My dear Sir

In accordance with your kind offer, I write to say that what I want far most of all is one or two good Carriers, & secondly a Runt of largest size & thirdly a first-rate Fan-tail. I hope to get latter from Mr H. Weir or Wicking, but when Heaven knows only. I have asked M Corker for a Carrier & Mr Gulliver for a Runt but strangers very naturally forget or will not take the trouble to send.—

I am become as much interested in Rabbits as in Pigeons & shd be very glad of any assistance in that line. The Angora has made a capital skeleton & is in some small respects rather peculiar. I want much the Great Hare Rabbit. Ducks, also, are very valuable to me & I want a black Buenos Ayrean & Rouen very much. I wd buy old Drakes at a moderate rate gladly.—

Would you object at any time to put in Cottage Gardener, a query whether any one in England has Finnikin or Turner Pigeons?

At Leith Hill I noticed some very fine rather dark-coloured Dorkings with 5 toes, & all the quarter-grown chickens had hardly any tail at all, but which comes subsequently. Did you know that this was characteristic of any breed: I went to a Farm House whence my Brother got this breed & the good woman assured me that this was their general, but not quite invariable characteristic. The old Birds seemed all alike & true, so that I can hardly suppose the tailless condition to be owing to cross with Cochin, but so it may be.

I have only got as yet 1st nor of the Poultry Book, so do not know yet how you are getting on.

My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | C. Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 1957.f1
    Dated by the reference to Leith Hill Place, the home of CD's sister Caroline Sarah Wedgwood. CD stayed there from 13 to 19 September 1856 (‘Journal’; Appendix II).
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    f2 1957.f2
    Harrison Weir.
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    f3 1957.f3
    Matthew Wicking.
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    f4 1957.f4
    E. L. Corker Esq. of 11 Queen Street, Cheapside was mentioned as having won the prize for the best carrier pigeons at the Anerley poultry show, 29 July – 1 August 1856 (Cottage Gardener (1856) 16: 340). In Variation 1: 132 n. 2, CD recorded that: ‘Mr. Haynes and Mr. Corker have given me specimens of their magnificent Carriers.’
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    f5 1957.f5
    See letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 24 June [1856].
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    f6 1957.f6
    Tegetmeier was a regular contributor to the Cottage Gardener, which included the Poultry Chronicle. Tegetmeier complied with CD's request (see letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 3 November [1856]). In Variation 1: 156, finnikins and turners were mentioned as having existed ‘until recently’ in England and possibly in France and Germany.
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    f7 1957.f7
    See n. 1, above.
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    f8 1957.f8
    Tegetmeier 1856–7. The first number was issued in May 1856. By September, three further numbers had been issued. Owing to an error by his bookseller, CD did not actually acquire a copy of the Poultry book edited by Tegetmeier until the summer of 1857 (see letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 18 May [1857]). Eleven numbers, all that were published, are in the Darwin Library–CUL.
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