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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. B. Tegetmeier   17 [July] 18711

Finchley | N

June 17/71

My dear Sir

I send you by this post a “Field” with an account of the cat show.2

You will see that there was no tortoiseshell Male.—but one (Tortoiseshell and white) male (entire) which was very much like a weak jawed female in appearance and with greyish, not [sound], black in the colour.— There were some hereditary examples of cats with three extra toes. Should you wish any further particulars I could ascertain the names of the owners and enquire—

In regard to sexual selection I may state that I have a blue turbit hen that obstinately refused to mate with two turbits successively though shut up with each of them for weeks.— Immediately on being let out she would accept any blue dragon cock that offered.

Being a very good bird I at last shut her in a room with a silver turbit—(by themselves) for many weeks & she has at last mated with him and produced some very superior young birds—3

Some time since you asked me about the nestling feathers of laced bantams (Sebrights)—4 I enclose the skin of one that has just died.

When you returned my fowl skulls I think you did not include the skull of the “Horned cock” figured in your “Variation” Vol I page.5

Should I not be mistaken, which is very possible, and you do not want the skull I should like to have it

Believe me | Very truly Yours | W B Tegetmeier

C Darwin Esq

CD annotations

1.1 I send … enquire— 2.5] crossed pencil
5.1 Some … have it 7.2] crossed pencil


The month is established by the reference to a cat show that took place on 13 July 1871 (see n. 2, below); Tegetmeier must have written June in error.
The enclosure has not been found. In the Field, 15 July 1871, p. 59, there was an account of the first official cat show, held at Crystal Palace on 13 July 1871 (see also letter from George Grove, 15 July 1871 and n. 1). Weir and his brother, Harrison William Weir, were both judges.
CD referred to this case of preference in a pigeon in Descent 2d ed., p. 417.
CD had borrowed a box of fowl skulls from Tegetmeier in 1861 (see Correspondence vol. 9, letters to W. B. Tegetmeier, 22 March [1861] and 14 April [1861]). He returned most of them at Tegetmeier’s request (see Correspondence vol. 12, letter from W. B. Tegetmeier, 1 February 1864, and Correspondence vol. 18, Supplement, letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 2 February [1864]), and returned two more, including the horned fowl, in 1867 (Correspondence vol. 15, letter to W. B. Tegetmeier, 6 January [1867]). The horned-fowl skull was figured in Variation 1: 265.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Descent 2d ed.: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. London: John Murray. 1874.

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


Sends Field with an account of the cat show; examples of cats with three extra toes.

Sexual preference of a blue turbit.

CD did not return skull of the horned cock figured in Variation [1: 265].

Letter details

Letter no.
William Bernhard Tegetmeier
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 88: 173–4
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7822,” accessed on 23 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19