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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. B. Tegetmeier   27 March 1865

The Field. | 346, Strand, | London, W.C.

March 27 1865.

My dear Sir

I sent you a packet of Fields containing all the Pigeon articles published as I thought it would trouble you less than sending the dates of the papers1   I shall publish another engraving and article this week and will forward you a copy2

Mr L Wells will be most happy to do any thing for you, he is most careful and conscientious in his work and economical in his charges3

I need not say that it will give me very great pleasure to assist you in any way, either by furnishing Mr Wells with typical specimens or by supervising his work4

For careful accurate detail I think he is the best man by far you could employ. If you compare the pouter and almond tumbler in the Fields sent with the Smerle, Barb and Carrier I think you will not hesitate to employ the draughtsman of the last three in preference.5

I am an intimate personal friend of Mr. H. Weir and admire his artistic skill but for your purpose as for mine in the Field, I am sure that accuracy is better than high art6

Mr Wells charges, for the drawing on the wood, about 30/ per subject, of the size used in the Field   The Engraving cost rather more than the drawing.— Would any of the Field blocks suit you I could arrange for you to have stereos or electros at a moderate cost7

I am afraid you will think I have been very neglectful in not replying sooner to your last,8 but I have been very busy during the last two weeks and did not see Mr Wells till late last week

Trusting to hear your health is improving | Believe me | Yours Very Truly | W B Tegetmeier

C Darwin Esq

P.S. | I send you a cutting from the Field with a marked paragraph, that may interest you. I am almost ashamed to send you such an article,9 but you know that the best artists occasionally paint what are termed, coarsely enough “pot boilers” and therefore I hope to be forgiven for following their example


See letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 14 March [1865]. Tegetmeier sent the issues of the Field for 19 November 1864, 3 December 1864, 31 December 1864, 18 February 1865, and 4 March 1865; these issues are in DAR 138.3 and most are lightly annotated. Tegetmeier had sent a cutting of his article on carrier pigeons from the 25 February 1865 issue of the Field with his letter of 13 March 1865. The series of articles provided descriptions of the standard characteristics of specific breeds of pigeons and fowls, illustrated by wood-engravings (see letter from W. B. Tegetmeier, 13 March 1865 and n. 9).
CD acknowledged receipt of the issue of the Field for 1 April 1865 in his letter to Tegetmeier of [7 April 1865]; the issue is in DAR 138.3: 6 and is lightly annotated. Tegetmeier was editor of the poultry section of the Field (see letter from W. B. Tegetmeier, [28 February – 5 March 1865]).
The reference is to Luke Wells and his probable interest in providing drawings for Variation. See letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 14 March [1865] and nn. 7–9, and 12.
See the postscript to the letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 14 March [1865] and nn. 9, 11, and 12. Tegetmeier is acknowledged for providing Wells with living birds for the illustrations of pigeon breeds in Variation 1: 135 n. 6.
Tegetmeier refers to a series of illustrations of pigeon breeds published in the Field between November 1864 and March 1865 (see n. 1, above). The draughtsman of the illustrations of the almond tumbler and the pouter (Field, 19 November 1864, p. 366, and 31 December 1864, p. 459) has not been identified. Wells drew the illustrations of the barb, smerle, and carrier pigeons (Field, 18 February 1865, p. 115, 25 February 1865, p. 139, and 4 March 1865, p. 155).
Tegetmeier refers to Harrison William Weir. See also letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 14 March [1865] and nn. 8 and 10. In his acknowledgment of Wells’s drawings, CD wrote: ‘It may be confidently asserted that the characters of the six breeds which have been figured are not in the least exaggerated’ (Variation 1: 135 n. 6).
See letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 14 March [1865] and n. 11. Tegetmeier refers to the engraved wood blocks from which the illustrations were printed for the series on pigeon breeds in the Field (see n. 5, above). Stereotypes and electrotypes were forms of metal printing plate prepared from moulds of the wood blocks; stereotypes were the cheaper and more commonly used of the two, particularly for journal illustration, while electrotypes were usually reserved for higher-class work (Twyman 1998, pp. 54–5). For a description of the processes involved in stereotyping and electrotyping, see Glaister 1996, pp. 156–7, 460–1.
The article has not been identified.


Glaister, Geoffrey Ashall. 1996. Encyclopedia of the book. 2d edition. London: Oak Knoll Press and the British Library.

Twyman, Michael. 1998. The British Library guide to printing: history and techniques. London: British Library.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Sends copies of the Field containing all the pigeon articles [see 4785].

Luke Wells will undertake engravings for Variation.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 178: 65
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4796,” accessed on 27 February 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13