Monday, March 17, 2008

Columbian color patterm

Reading “The Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson, got me thinking about the Columbian color pattern in chickens. Larson’s book is about the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, the Columbian Exposition. It was a fabulous enterprise, intended to outshine Paris’s Exposition of 1889, crowned by the Eiffel Tower. The Columbian Expo’s answer to that was the Ferris Wheel.

The book is a wonderful history, exploring the personalities that designed and built the fair and how their genius and perseverance brought the fair into being. Larson ties the story of the fair to the crimes of a serial killer who lured his victims from the activities surrounding it.

I’d heard that the Columbian color pattern was introduced at the Expo. But as I researched the question, no documentation for that was in the records. The Illinois State Library’s site on the subject,, specifically states that the poultry exhibit “contained no special novelties.”

Craig Russell, president of the SPPA, helped me out. He found that legendary Wyandotte breeder B. M. Briggs developed the pattern and gave it its name, in honor of the Expo, although it was not introduced there. He had started with Silver Laced Wyandottes when they were still known as American Seabrights. He is considered the originator of the White variety and was certainly the first to advertise Whites. He published a number of descriptive articles and pictures of the variety.

In 1887, Mr. Briggs started working on a Light Wyandotte, with the color pattern of the Light Brahma, as pictured here from Tom’s Chicken Farm, Mr. Briggs' eye was caught by the two white pullets with striped hackles one of his customers produced from crossing a Barred Rock male on a White Wyandotte female. He acquired them and the following year crossed them to very typey White Wyandotte males. He began selecting birds from those offspring approached the ideal type and pattern he envisioned.

By 1893, Briggs felt the new variety was ready to introduce. Whether he took the name to honor the fair or promote his new color is not recorded. The Columbian Wyandotte received APA recognition in 1905. The Columbian Rock was recognized in 1910, and the Columbian Leghorn in 1929.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting!