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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. B. Tegetmeier   26 [January 1863]1

Down Bromley Kent


My dear Sir

I have got the vaguest idea that I have read of a cut-off extra or monstrous toe on a fowl growing again.----2 Have you heard of such a case? If you have, kindly inform me; if not, please do not write, as I shall understand silence

My dear Sir | Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin

Shall you do anything about Spanish Cock & white Silk-Hen?3

I saw in Report of Philoperisteron a notice of curious pigeon with long wings.----4 Do you know owner, could you get me a longer description, with any measurement of wing from tip to tip & measurement of body from base of beak to base of tail. But it would hardly worth trouble without the Bird was dead.----


The date is established by the reference to the report of the Philoperisteron Society’s annual show (see n. 4, below).
For CD’s interest in polydactylism, see, for instance, the letter to T. H. Huxley, [8 February 1863] and nn. 2 and 3.
In his letter to Tegetmeier of 27 [December 1862] (\Correspondence\ vol. 10), CD offered £5 to ‘cover expences of experiment"; CD encouraged Tegetmeier to cross a "Spanish Cock & a couple of white Silk hens’, adding that he would be ‘most grateful to hear whether the offspring breed well’. See also letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 19 February [1863] and n. 2.
CD refers to the report in the Journal of Horticulture, 20 January 1863, pp. 58--9, of the Philoperisteron Society’s annual show, held at the Freemason’s Hall, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, on 15 January 1863. The report provided details of a Belgian pigeon combining the colour of the archangel variety with the head of the owl or barb pigeon; its most ‘striking pecularity’ was ‘the extraordinary length of the tail and flight feathers, the latter crossed beyond the tail giving the animal the appearance of a gigantic Swift (Cypselus), or Longwinged Hawk’.


Has WBT ever heard of a case of the regeneration of monstrous (extra) toe on fowls?

Inquires about a curious pigeon reported at the Philoperisteron [pigeon fanciers’ club].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Sent from
Source of text
Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Charles Finney Cox Collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3944,” accessed on 21 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11