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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. B. Tegetmeier   4 July 1866

Muswell Hill | London | N

July 4. 1866

My dear Sir.

All the blocks are engraved except that of the Rock dove which is now in the artist’s hands—1 I had a good deal of difficulty in procuring a specimen that I could rely on as not being crossed with dovecot pigeons, but have now two in the flesh, from the Coast of Lewis (Western Islands) and from Stromness (Orkneys)—2 To show the wing bars etc. as you wished I have had one hung up by the leg, and drawn after a photograph. In this position the bars on the wings & wing coverts, the white rump feathers—tail bars etc are really admirably shewn and if you do not object to a drawing looking like an artistic sketch of “dead game”, I think it will suit, as the plumage is much better shewn than in a natural position, at least as regards the characteristic markings3

⁠⟨⁠one third of page excised⁠⟩⁠

Will you be so good as ⁠⟨⁠to⁠⟩⁠ read the article by Mr Teeba⁠⟨⁠y⁠⟩⁠ ⁠⟨⁠in⁠⟩⁠ the July Number of the Po⁠⟨⁠ultry Book⁠⟩⁠ chapter on spangled Hamburghs   it will interest you ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ how nearly two varieties ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ fowls), can approach in Me⁠⟨⁠  ⁠⟩⁠ ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ yet be incapable of amalgamation4

Teebays statements are perfectly reliable— he is a most practised breeder and fair describer

⁠⟨⁠one third of page excised⁠⟩⁠


On Tegetmeier’s procurement of engravings of pigeons and poultry for Variation, see the letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 16 January [1866] and n. 2, and the letter from W. B. Tegetmeier, 22 January [1866] and nn. 1–7. The artist was Luke Wells.
The Isle of Lewis is in the Outer Hebrides off the north-west coast of Scotland; Stromness is a town at the south-west end of the island of Mainland in the Orkney Islands, off the north coast of Scotland.
An illustration of a dead specimen of Columbia livia, the rock pigeon, appeared in Variation 1: 135. The specimen was shown hanging upside down.
Richard Teebay’s article in The poultry book (Tegetmeier 1867, pp. 154–8) is annotated in CD’s copy in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 800–3). Teebay described various golden-spangled and silver-spangled varieties of Hamburgh fowl, and the effects of crossing on their plumage patterns. The poultry book was issued in parts.


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.


All the blocks [for Variation] are now engraved except the rock-dove.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Muswell Hill
Source of text
DAR 178: 72
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5143,” accessed on 25 October 2021,

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