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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. B. Tegetmeier   22 January [1866]1

Muswell Hill

Jany 22./65

My dear Sir

I was very glad to see your writing again.2 I had heard from Mr Wallace that you were better but would not trouble you with letters.3

I have already engraved


Short faced tumbler

African owl


and. Carrier.4

There remain to be done the Pouter and Blue Rock.5 of the latter I shall a pure wild bred specimen from Sutherlandshire on Tuesday6   That compleates the pigeons— of the fowls the Spanish cock head is engraved: Polish in Engravers hands— Hamburgh (rose comb) is being drawn—7

I returned Chappuis, (with thanks) by post on Friday.8 The author has sent me a copy—

The experiment respecting the eggs shall be tried as soon as possible both by myself and Mr Zurhorst—9

—Now I want to ask an especial favour which will cost you I hope but little trouble and do me much service

—The Unfortunate “poultry book which was never completed, has at last got into the hands of a solvent publisher10

It is commenced de novo And as all the original matter of Johnson & Wingfield is expunged the book will go by my name only.—.11 All the matter to which you have referred will be retained and I therefore beg to ask you as a great favour to refer to the Poultry book by W B Tegetmeier12 I do this the more readily as a very small number only 500 of the incomplete edition was printed and I should doubt whether a single copy except that in the British Museum could be obtained for reference   Whereas if I live there is no doubt of this present edition being finished and as 4000 of the first part are sold it will be a well known authority—

Trusting you will excuse my troubling you on this subject | Believe me | My dear Sir | Yours very truly | W B Tegetmeier

C Darwin Esq

CD annotations

4.1 The experiment … Zurhorst— 4.2] double scored pencil


The year is established by the publication date of the first part of Tegetmeier 1867 (see n. 11, below). Tegetmeier mistakenly dated the letter ‘65’ instead of ‘66.’
The reference is to Alfred Russel Wallace. For CD’s recently improved health, see the letter to H. B. Jones, 3 January [1866] and nn. 2–8.
Tegetmeier supervised the procurement of illustrations of pigeons and poultry, and their engraving, for Variation (see letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 16 January [1866] and n. 2). Tegetmeier refers to illustrations that appear in the first volume of Variation with the captions ‘English Barb’ (p. 145), ‘Short-faced English Tumbler’ (p. 152), ‘African Owl’ (p. 149), ‘English Fantail’ (p. 147), and ‘English Carrier’ (p. 140).
The two engravings entitled ‘The Rock-pigeon, or Columba livia’ and ‘English Pouter’ appear in Variation 1: 135 and 137, respectively. The rock pigeon is a slaty-blue colour (Variation 1: 183, 195).
No record survives of the bird from Sutherlandshire (a former Scottish county, subsumed after 1974 into Highland Region); the dead rock pigeon illustrated in Variation was apparently obtained instead from the Orkney Islands or the Isle of Lewis (see letter from W. B. Tegetmeier, 4 July 1866).
CD asked Tegetmeier to arrange for Luke Wells to draw these breeds (see Correspondence vol. 13, letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, [7 April 1865]). The engravers were Butterworth and Heath (ibid., letter from W. B. Tegetmeier to John Murray and R. F. Cooke, 17 April 1865). The illustrations appeared in Variation 1: 226, 228–29.
Tegetmeier refers to CD’s request that Tegetmeier ask Frederick William Zurhorst to repeat an experiment on eggs from a cross between Cochin and Spanish fowl (see letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 16 January [1866] and n. 5). Neither a discussion, nor the results, of Zurhorst’s original cross have been found.
The first edition of the The poultry book was by William Wriothesley Wingfield and George William Johnson (Wingfield and Johnson 1853). In 1856 and 1857, a revised edition, edited by Tegetmeier, was published in parts by William S. Orr and Co. (Correspondence vol. 6, letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 18 May [1857] and nn. 4–6); however, the publishers went out of business before the edition was completed. The eleven unbound parts of the incomplete edition (Wingfield and Johnson 1856–7) are in the Darwin Library–CUL and are annotated by CD (see Marginalia 1: 798–800). See also n. 11 below.
Wingfield and Johnson 1856–7 was superseded by Tegetmeier 1867, published by George Routledge & Sons. The work retained most of the original plates and Tegetmeier’s text from Wingfield and Johnson 1856–7; it included four additional parts and new figures and plates. Twelve parts of Tegetmeier 1867 were issued in 1866 and three in 1867. The unbound copies, heavily annotated by CD, are in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 800–3).
Tegetmeier had previously asked CD to cite him personally rather than refer to Wingfield and Johnson 1856–7 (see Correspondence vol. 13, letter from W. B. Tegetmeier, [29 March – 7 April 1865]). CD replied that he was still obliged to refer occasionally to Wingfield and Johnson 1856–7 for details of work by others than Tegetmeier (ibid., letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 2 June [1865]). However, CD was able to change the references, as Tegetmeier 1867 is cited frequently in the chapter on fowls in Variation (1: 225–75), not Wingfield and Johnson 1856–7.


Chapuis, Félicien. 1865. Le pigeon voyageur belge. Verviers: Imprimerie de Ch. Vinche.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Tegetmeier, William Bernhard. 1867. The poultry book: comprising the breeding and management of profitable and ornamental poultry, their qualities and characteristics; to which is added ‘The standard of excellence in exhibition birds’, authorized by the Poultry Club. London and New York: George Routledge & Sons.

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


Discusses pigeon and poultry woodcuts [for Variation].

WBT’s poultry book is at last in the hands of a solvent publisher [The poultry book (1867)].

Letter details

Letter no.
William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Muswell Hill
Source of text
DAR 178: 71
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4983,” accessed on 15 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14