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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. B. Tegetmeier   8 September [1868]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Sept. 8th

My dear Sir

Many thanks for your note & specimens.—2 I shd. think the subject would be well worthy of a paper, for I do not remember any detailed discussion on the subject.

I hope & suppose that you have kept my queries: though I am very glad to hear about the number of moults, it is colour which chiefly concerns me.3

If you could provisionally soon let me hear briefly of the differences or resemblance of plumage of adult male & female & young, in 2 or 3 breeds it would be a great assistance to me, as I could then judge how far to pursue the subject in other animals. The Pile Game wd be one good case;4 you will understand that I shd want a few words on the adults, as the several breeds are not familiar now to me.—

You told me formerly that you could get me from Breeders some information on relative proportion of sexes with Ducks & Fowls, which wd be very valuable to me.—5 Perhaps you will as soon as you have leisure let me have whatever materials you have about the sexes. without waiting for more.— When at Manchester or elswhere could you find out how early in life the young of Peacock are furnished with the top knot.—6

I am very sorry to hear that you have been suffering from ill-health: I thought that you were indomitable in strength & health.— My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by CD’s queries to Tegetmeier on plumage in young fowl (see n. 3, below).
Tegetmeier’s letter has not been found, and the specimens have not been identified. The specimens may have been sent in response to CD’s letter to Tegetmeier of 3 September [1868].
For CD’s queries on the colour of the plumage of young and adult fowl, see the letters to W. B. Tegetmeier, 20 May [1868], 22 May [1868], and 26 May 1868. See also letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 3 September [1868].
See letters to Tegetmeier, 20 May [1868] and 26 May 1868.
CD discussed the development of plumage colours and topknots in young birds in the section, ‘the transmission of characters as limited by age in reference to sexual selection’ (Descent 2: 183). CD received information on peacock topknots from Abraham Dee Bartlett (see annotation to letter from J. Noordhoek Hegt, 11 December 1868).


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.


Asks about the differences in colour of plumage of adult male, female, and young birds. Suggests pile game as subject.

Asks about relative proportion of sexes in ducks and fowls.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.273)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6356,” accessed on 12 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16