From the November 1913 issue of The Farm-Poultry magazine regarding the first poultry show in America:
On the 8th of October, 1849, Dr. J. C. Bennett, of Plymouth, Mass., wrote to Mr. James Pedder, editor of the Boston Cultivator, as follows:
“Mr. Editor:-Permit me, through the Cultivator, to say that, as many persons have been imposed upon and deceived into the purchase of spurious fowls, supposing them to be pure bloods, I will exhibit, in Quincy Market, Boston, on Thursday, the 15th of November, from ten o’clock A. M., to three o’clock P. M., perfect samples of the full blooded domestic fowls of the following breeds:
Golden Pheasants, Plymouth Rocks, Shanghaes, Yankee Games, Cochin Chinas, Fawn-Colored Dorkings, Great Malays, Pearl White Dorkings, Great Javas, English Ravens, Wild Indian, Bavarians.
These comprise some of the handsomest and best fowls in the world. Fowl breeders, and the best judges of poultry generally, are respectfully invited to attend, and any person who supposes he has the best specimens of any of those breeds is invited to present them at that time, and compare side by side. And I would here request Col Josiah Stevens, of Concord, N. H., Mr. A. S. Drake of Fiskdale, Mass., Mr . John Giles of Providence, R. I., Mr. Robert Estes of East Abington, Mass., and Mr. Timothy House of Boston, Masa., either by themselves, or in conjunction with such others as gentlemen interested may on that occasion appoint, to act as a committee to make an impartial report for the benefit of the public. It would be agreeable to me to have the editors of the agricultural papers in Boston, and others interested in the improvement of domestic fowls, appoint on said committee twice the number that I have done, so that their report may be perfectly satisfactory to all.
After the exhibition above alluded to, I shall, with your permission, communicate to the Cultivator some additional matter in relation to domestic fowls, which may not prove uninteresting to your patrons.”
– J. C. BENNETT
Subsequently, at a date not given, the following was added:
” P. S.-If you approve the plan as an important and beneficial one, please make the 15th a great day of gathering of fowl fanciers and fowl breeders, by your influence in the Cultivator. I shall bring my best, and if others can bring better, it will only be for the public good, and I shall be happy to acknowledge it, and as ready to do so as any other man. I shall abide the judgment of the committee, and I want you and others interested, either to act on the committee or appoint some others to do so, or both, at your option.”
This letter and postscript were published together by Mr. Pedder, who gave the idea his most cordial approval, and proposed that the plan of the exhibition should be extended and the exhibition made “a general Fowl Show.” This began the planning of the first poultry show in America!
In the Cultivator, October 27th, Mr. Pedder had this editorial on the subject:
“According to a promise made to many applicants, we would propose to Dr. Bennett ‘to use his influence in the formation of a convention of domestic fowl breeders and fanciers, on a magnificent scale, giving to New England the honor of being first in a movement that will be felt in every state in the Union.’ In this country, we have cattle shows, conventions of fruit growers, etc.; and in England they have not only these but ‘gooseberry shows!’ While nowhere have they a ‘convention of domestic fowl breeders and fowl fanciers,’ nor have we. In view of this step we presume it will be necessary to select a more suitable place for the annual exhibition – a feature which we are fully prepared to see the proposal assume – than the Quincy market; and where comfort and shelter might be secured for the numerous visitors which will be sure to be present, as also for the animals to be exhibited; and we would venture to propose that the meeting be held in the Public Gardens, where pavilions might be prepared, with a sale of entrance tickets at the doors, if four-pence only in price, to pay expenses and render it more select, each ticket holding good for the whole time of exhibition. This we conceive would be to give a respectability to the occasion, and if proper persons are selected to form a committee of arrangements, and give it their countenance, we think the end in view might be accomplished, as our friends express it, ‘on a magnificent scale.’ We would be pleased to be made the depository of proposals for securing a full attendance on the coming occasion, and a permanent existence of the ‘New England Convention of Domestic Fowl Breeders and Fanciers.’ “
It would appear from further correspondence published in the Boston Cultivator, (and subsequently in the extended account of the show, which Dr. Bennett published as an appendix to “The Poultry Book,” which, being published early in 1850, must have been in the hands of the printers at the time the show was held) that even before this editorial appeared in the Cultivator, Dr. Bennett was working with others interested to effect a temporary organization and to forward preparations for the exhibition as rapidly as possible. Dr. Bennett seems to have assumed very full responsibility in appointing a committee of supervision which included only two of those he had first suggested, and in deciding that the first poultry show in America should be called the “New England Ornithological Association.”
His committee gave this notice:
“The first annual exhibition of the ‘New England Ornithological Association ‘ will take place on the 15th of November, instant, at the store of Mr. Parker & Mr. White, No. 10 Gerrish Block, Blackstone St., Boston, commencing at nine o’clock, A. M.,to continue through the day.
All those who take an interest in improving the breeds of domestic fowls, or who have specimens of choice stock – imported or otherwise – are respectfully invited to be present on the above occasion, and to forward their stock in season for exhibition on that day. The committee suggest that contributors of fowls shall send them in compact coops, each labeled with the name of the breeder, class of stock, and age, upon a card attached to the box.”
The response to this invitation for the first poultry show in America far exceeded the expectations of Dr. Bennett and the committee, and showed that Mr. Pedder of the Cultivator had a much better understanding of the state of interest in poultry. The committee found it necessary to adopt Mr. Pedders suggestion and arrange for an exhibition on a larger scale than was possible in a store, and continuing for a longer period than one day. A large tent was erected at the Public Gardens, and the first poultry show in America was in formal progress on Thursday and Friday, the 15th and 16th, and many exhibits were kept there on Saturday that the owners might have the fullest opportunity to dispose of them to the public eager to buy. Those who know the Boston Public Garden of today as a beautiful park will no doubt imagine a fine setting for this first show. But in 1849 this area was just a plot of partially filled in “back bay” land, part of which was under water at high tide
The official report of the committee of supervision, which is reprinted in “The Poultry Book,” is not very satisfactory as an account of the first poultry show in America. After the manner of the reports which, at that time and for long after, were made upon exhibits at agricultural fairs in Massachusetts, it gives a great deal of attention to matters relating to poultry culture and to poultry in general, and comparatively little to this exhibit in particular.
The best reports of the first poultry show in America were given by the Boston Herald and the Boston Traveller then, and until a very short time ago, separate papers, but now combined. The report in the Herald of Nov. 16, 1849, is the most critical, and appears to have been furnished to the paper by one of some discernment in the poultry fancy. I give this in full below:
Annual Convention of Fowl, Breeders – Show of Stock at the Public Garden
“This novel exhibition is attracting a good deal of attention, and for the first show of the kind in Massachusetts, it may be called superb. The fowls are placed in cages of various sizes, which are ranged around in a circle, each cage being marked with the contributor’s name, his place of residence, and the breed of his fowls, the whole being under a large caravan tent. Among the specimens of hens, there was a very great preponderance of the Chinese breeds, known as Cochin Chinese Shanghais, and Chinese. This fowl is worthy of particular note, as it is of monstrous size, being nearly as large again as our common English breeds; they are of a brown color; have no spurs; the shells of their eggs are also brown. They will not lay so well as the famous Poland hen. When mixed with the large Brown Dorkings they, however, alter their habits and are good layers, and do not lose any size. The other species are probably pretty well known; therefore, we shall proceed to speak of the various contributions. It will be perceived that the name of the Hon. Daniel Webster appears among the list of fowl breeders.
By William E. Richardson, of Brookline, Dorking fowls, seven months old; F. M. Stanley and S. M. George, of Attleboro, Poland mixed breeds; James Houghton, of Dorchester, good specimens of barnyard fowls; J. H. Noble, of Somerville, fine specimens of Cochin Chinese and Dorking, hens and cocks; D. Holmes, of Malden, White Poland, hens and cocks; Asa Tribou, of North Bridgewater, Dorking and Cochin Chinese mixed, splendid specimens, and the best breeds for use and sale; E. B. Richardson, of Brookline, Balltums ; John D. Davis, of Gloucester, Cochin Chinese, cocks and hens; A. P. Davis, of the same place, Cochin Chinese mixed with the common barnyard fowls; S. H. Peck, of Lynn, Cochin Chinese, cocks and hens, five months old; S. L. Heed, of Watertown, Chinese, cocks and hens; G. P. Burnham, of Roxbury, Shanghaie and Cochin Chinese breeds, three each, also some of the old English stock, known as the Plymouth Rock breed, large size, somewhat speckled; Bernard’s cocks and hens, and beautiful white Flemish ducks; P. L. Osborne, of Danvers, Dominique, not very large, and speckled appearance; A. Pike, of Watertown, five large chickens; H. K. Bartlett, of Newbury, Guinea hens; H. Jackson, of North Bridgewater, three cocks and eleven hens; T. W. Balch, of Dedham, three pullets and two cocks of the Shanghaie species ; John Chamberlain, Jr., of Danvers, Guilderland, a cock and hen, which are about the size of crows, and much resemble them; also Italian, a large, black species, Dominique, Chinese Frizzled, three cocks and three hens of each kind. The Frizzled hens are curious specimens of the hen kingdom – their feathers, curling backward, look for all the world like porcupine quills. Mr. C. also contributed some Java chickens, a poor, bony, half starved race; also Poland geese and wild turkeys, very large and beautiful ; O. B. Masters, of West Roxbury, Shanghaie cocks and hens; A. H. Hale, of Rockport, Golden Poland, cocks and hens, Malay hens, good layers; Hon. Daniel Webster, of Marshfield, seven domesticated wild geese also a pair of Java barnyard fowls, of good size and appearance; John Giles, of Providence, R. I., black and white carrier pigeons, Bolton gray hens, a sleek white hen with numerous gray specks, two magnificent white swans (unspotted), Poland geese, wild turkeys, Aylesbury ducks, three Dorking fowls, large Java, White Guinea hens, African Bantum, White Shanghaie, cocks and hens, (good size and handsome), and Muscovy ducks; G. ‘V. George, of Haverhill, Shanghaie cocks and hens, large and handsome; E. B. Little, of the same place, White Dorking and Shanghaie fowls; Samuel Buxton, of Danvers, twelve fine Italian cocks and hens (this species are distinguished by their combs and sleek black feathering); David Blanchard, of Randolph, some good specimens of barnyard fowls; Eben Wight, of Dedham, White Dorking, and a native Dedham species of hens and roosters; Henry Little, of Marshfield, some Chinese cocks and hens; Howard B. Coffin, of Newton, White Cochin Chinese roosters and hens; common English breeds. three Poland fowls, and some splendid pullets; C. H. Floyd, of Dorchester, English speckled hens, (Bolton grays); Parker Barnes, of Dorchester, creepers, a small sized, speckled species of barn yard fowls; J. N. French, of Randolph, Golden Pheasants, and Cochin Chinese hens and cocks; B. Lincoln, of Jamaica Plains, Cochin Chinese and Shanghaie hens and roosters; Freeman Alden, of the same place, Shanghaie hens; W. W. Hague, of the same place, good specimens of the Bolton gray fowls, also Chinese species of hens; H. C. Paine, of Manchester, N.H.., splendid specimens of Chinese roosters and hens ; Timothy House, of Dorchester, Bantums; T. J. Morrill, of Georgetown, White Dorkings; G.W. Boynton, of the same place, the following variety of pigeons: Antwerp, carriers, fantails, silver breast tumblers, Irish pouters, (this kind have the capacity of filling a large pouch in the breast with air to the size of a largo apple when distended), nuns, victory, Tumblers, Crested Fans, Barbs, Mottled Carriers, and Ruffs – the whole is a fine collection; U. W. Morrill, of Georgetown, some line black Poland hens of large size; A. P. Bateman, of the same place, White Dorking and Shangnaie cocks and hens; George R. Pierce and Stephen Osborn, of Danvers, Golden Pheasants, Black China Frizzled fowls, White Cuba Bantums, Java, Game fowls, (small), Dorking and Cochin Chinese, Plymouth Rock , Dominique, and Bucks County, (a fine variety), also Spanish and Virginia breeds; J. Kingsbury, of Foxboro, peacock; John A. Anderson, of Roxbury, Bantums, Dorking, China, and Golden Pheasant; Shurtleff & Crosby, N. Chelsea, Italian and China; Parker & White, of this city, a good collection of various kinds; T. A, Stanley, of Attlebero, Cochin Chinese and other specimens; T. Cooley, of No, 78 Hanover St., Boston, Banturns, cocks and hens; George Dorr, of Dorchester, Bolton grays. Among other hens shown, was one with fur on her back in place of feathers; she is really a rara avis, equal to the no haired horse. Visitors should not award credit to those roosters who crow the loudest, but should regard with equal favor the modest, but no less meritorious hens.”
The Evening Traveller on the First Poultry Show in America
November 17th: contained a list of the exhibitors and the number and kind of birds exhibited by each at the first poultry show in America, taken from the books of the secretary, S. H. Morse, Jr. This gives a number of items not given in either the preceding account or in “The Poultry Book.” All three of these lists of exhibitors seem to be incomplete, which perhaps was to be expected under the circumstances. To undertake to harmonize their differences would be to engage in a task involving a great deal of work and impossible of verification. Fortunately for the historian of this event, accuracy of detail is not required in an account of it. All that the present day reader cares for is as truthful a general account of the first poultry show in America as may be compiled without excessive trouble from the contemporary sources of information; so I quote here from the list in the Traveler just a few things that supplement the information in the Herold’s story. It is interesting to note that the spelling of some names in the Traveler is more in accord with modern usage than that in the Herald.
The Traveler, printing the secretary’s list from the first poultry show in America, adds to the information given above:
“E. H. Hand, Dedham, 1 wood duck; Henry Little, Marshfield, one pair China Geese; Sydney Packard, E. Bridgewater, ;1 Java fowls; A. White, E. Randolph, 7 Cochin China, 4 Bucks County, 2 Silver Pheasants, 2 white Poland fowls; Linus Manley, Easton, 4, English gray and 4 Cochin China; Calvin B. Austin, Danvers, 4 Italian and 6 bantam fowls; Theodore Drew, Plymouth, 1 pair Shanghae, 1 pair Black Poland, 1 pair Golden Pheasants, 3 White Dorkings; John W. Hunt, North Bridgewater, 8 Chinese, 6 Dorking, 2 Golden Pheasant, 2 Silver Pheasant, and Poland and Creole fowls; W. Beers, Woburn, 12 silver top-knot, and 2 African fowls; J. W. Spooner, Plymouth, Cochin China, White Spanish, Muff, Shanghae and Poland fowls; Alfred A. Andrews, Roxbury, 2 Golden Pheasants, 8 Chinese, 10 Dorkings, 6 Dorking and Chinese, and 4 bantams; J. A. R. Butters, Boston, fowls named Boston Favorite, but whether a distinct breed or a cross not stated, probably the latter; T. A. Stanley, Attleboro, 1 coop of English gray, 1 of Cochin China, and 1 of Bristol County Fowls; P. B. Burke, West Newton, crosses between Turkish and Dorking ; J. W. Hallam, Lynn, Boston Favorite; H. L. Devereux, Boston, 2 peafowl, 2 Polands, 1 Shanghae, 6 Guilderland, and a lot of white-topped bantam fowls; J. G. Tilton, Newhuryport, 3 golden top-knot fowls; N. C. Day, Leominster, 3 Black Dorkings ; George H. Pierce and Stephen Osborn, Jr., of Danvers, 4 Golden Pheasant, 4 black Poland, 2 Cuba bantams, 2 Java game, 4 Frizzled fowl, 3 Shanghae, 3 fawn colored Dorkings, 3 Cochin China, 2 Plymouth Rock, 1 Bucks County, 4 Spanish, 4 Dominique, and 3 Indian fowls, in all 39; Otis Putnam, Danvers, cross between Italian and Chinese; Rufus Bates, Hanover, 4 imported Poland ducks; S. B. Morse, Boston, 4 white Chinese, 1 cross with the Spanish breed, 3 Italian, 4 Guelderland, and 4 Dutch pencilled fowl; W. J. Buckminster, Framingham, 1 pair Norfolk County breed of fowls, 1 pair White Dorkings, and 1 pair Shanghae; Z. Cooley, 5 cocks, Sir.T. Sebright’s breed; John Allen, Salem, Java and cross Java and Jersey Blue, 3 cocks and 3 hens; T. S., Delano, Somerville, Devereux, 1 cock, 1 hen, Creole, 1 cock, 1 hen; W. T. Churchill, Roxbury, Muscovy ducks; Francis Blake, Needham, improved Spanish fowls, imported from England, 1 cock, 1 hen, bantams, black English, 1 cock, 1 hen; George C. Pierce and Stephen Osborn, Danvers, Rumpkin and Guilderland, 2 cocks, 4 hens; Dr. J. C. Bennett, Plymouth, Shanghae, imported, 1 cock, 1 hen and 2 chickens, Baylies importation of Cochin China, 1 cock and 1 hen, Spanish Muffler, Plymouth Hocks, 1 cock, 1 hen, wild India, 1 hen, Plymouth game, 3 cocks, fawn colored Dorking, 1 hen, white 1 hen, English raven, 1 hen, great Malay, 1 hen, 1 hen, African bantams, 1 cock, 1 hen, Shanghae, 1 cock, 1 hen, Plymouth Rocks, 3 hens, Poland, (imported) Hamburg, 1 cock, 3 hens; H. C. Parker, Manchester, N. H., white Frizzled fowls; B. F. Dow, East Boston, Turkey Partridges, 1 cock and 2 hens; John Eaton, Reading, French bantams, 1 cock, 1 hen.”
As some of these names are unfamiliar, and some were not used then as they are now, it is in order to refer to “The Poultry Book” for such light on the first poultry show in America as its descriptions of these fowls will give us, though space will allow only a brief reference to each of the kinds the names of which convey little to the modern reader. Bennet’s book has reproductions of drawings of many of the kinds of fowls described in it, but these are so crude that they are of little use, and the descriptions are so brief and incomplete that it is often not possible to identify a variety as associated with any particular modern race. The fowls to which Asiatic names were given were all of the Asiatic general type, or (apparently in some cases) crosses with that type which showed some of its characters strongly. The “Great Malay” was a rangy Asiatic; the “Common Malay” a medium sized fowl, probably cross bred or grade.
“The Great Java fowl,” says Bennett, “is seldom seen in this country in its purity; excellent specimens, however, may be seen at Mr. Charles Burton’s, Plymouth, or at Mr. E. T. Packard’s, East Bridgewater, which he purchased in New York as ‘Malays.’ The pair is now one year old, and the cock weighs ten pounds; the pullet nine pounds and a quarter. These, like all other pure Java fowls, are of black or dark auburn color, with very large black legs, single comb and wattles. They are good layers, and their eggs are large and well flavored. Their gait is slow and majestic.”
The “wild Indian game” hen, exhibited by Dr. Bennett, was imported from Calcutta by Mr. Robert Estes, of East Abington. Bennett thus describes her: “She has a long neck like a wild goose; has neither comb nor wattles; is of a dark, glossy green color; has a very short fan tail; is lofty in her carriage, trim built, and wild in her general appearance, and has very large and long yellow legs, spotted with blue. She weighs five pounds and three- quarters, but is so very compactly built that good judges frequently estimate her only at about four pounds.”
“The Plymouth Rock fowls exhibited at this show were of a cross bred race originated by Dr. Bennett a few years before, which, for a little time, seemed to bid fair to become as popular as the modern Plymouth Rock which was named for it, when first exhibited twenty years later. They were produced by crossing Dorkings with several Asiatic stocks. The males weighed about nine to ten pounds; the females six and one-half to seven pounds. Their plumage is rich and variegated ; the cocks usually red or speckled, and the pullets darkish brown. Their legs are very large, and usually blue or green, but occasionally yellow or white, generally having five toes upon each foot. Some have their legs feathered, but this is not usual. They have large and single combs and wattles, large cheeks, rather short tails, and small wings in proportion to their bodies. The demand for this breed has exceeded all others this season, and they have been sent into most of the New England States and Western New York.” Home of the descriptions by others indicate more variation than Bennett seemed willing to admit, but his description serves as a general description of the “original” Plymouth Rock.
The Guelderland fowls were typically medium sized blue-black fowls, with very heavily feathered black legs, their chief peculiarity being “the absence of a comb in either sex.” ” This,” says Bennett, “is replaced by an indentation on the top of the head; and from the extreme end of this, at the back, rises a small spike of feathers.” They were said to have been brought from the North of Holland, a few years before “by Captain John Devereux, of Marblehead, in the ship Dromo.” From this we may infer that the birds shown by one exhibitor as “Devereux” were what were commonly called Guelderland.
The “English Raven” was a black game fowl, while the birds exhibited as “Spanish” games appear to have been black breasted red pit games of the Old English Game type. The games called “Yankee” game, and “Plymouth” game were produced by crossing some of Bennett’s Plymouth Rock stock with “wild Indian game.” The “Black Dorking” stock exhibited by Mr. Day is referred to at some length by Bennett. They were said to have come originally from near Philadelphia, and to be unlike any stock known in New England. They were plainly not Dorkings of English origin, but, though Bennett repudiates them as “Dorkings,” they seem to have answered the specifications contained in their name about as well as the majority of new varieties do.
The Spangled Hamburgs illustrated in “The Poultry Book” have crests and beards; the fowls called “pheasants” were mostly pencilled Hamburgs, but it appears from the newspaper reports that at least one pair of “Golden Pheasants” were true Pheasants of that description. Creole is the name sometimes given to the Bolton Gray fowl in America in the early days of interest in poultry.
It will be noticed that there were exhibited specimens of three or four kinds of fowls at the first poultry show in America which appear to have had more or less vague as “local varieties:” A “Bristol County breed,” a “Norfolk County breed,” a “native Dedham species,” and the “Boston Favorites.” Perhaps some of the veteran poultry people of this section can give information about these. As Bristol County adjoins the “Rhode Island Red district” of Rhode Island, it does not require much imagination to suppose that the “Bristol County breed” may have been Rhode Island Reds, although the exhibitor was not from the part of the country adjacent to Rhode Island. It seems likely that some at least of the black fowls exhibited as Italians and Spanish were Minorcas, and possible that the “white Spanish” were White Leghorns or their prototypes.
If space permitted, it would be interesting to extend a discussion of the types at the first poultry show in America as more or less clearly revealed by a study of the literature and illustrations of the period immediately following, but that would require a volume. This article is already longer than I planned when it occurred to me that a story of the first poultry show in America in Boston of Nov. 14-15, 1849, would make a most appropriate leading article for this issue, but I think that readers will appreciate the quotation of a few graphic paragraphs from the pen of an exhibitor who wrote of it while the first poultry in America was still a recent memory. I quote from Burnham’s “History of the Hen Fever:”
“At this first show the committee flattered themselves’ (and who ever heard of or from a committee that did not do this) that never, within the memory of the oldest inhabitant had such a display been witnessed; never had the feathered race before appeared in such pristine beauty; never had any such exhibition been seen, or read of, since the world begun! And, to say truth, it wasn’t a very bad sight-that same first hen show in Boston.
Thousands upon thousands visited it, the newspapers appropriated column after column to its laudation, and all sorts of people flocked to the Public Garden to behold the ‘rare and curious and inexpressibly beautiful samples’ of poultry caged up there, every individual specimen of which had, up to that hour, been straggling and starving in the yards of I the people about Boston (they and their progeny) for years and years before, unknown, unhonored, and unsung.
Gilded complimentary cards, in beautifully embossed envelopes, were duly forwarded by the ‘committee’ to all ‘our first men,’ who came on foot or in carriages, with their lovely wives and pretty children, to see the extraordinary sight. The city fathers, the public functionaries, governors, senators, representatives, all responded to the invitation, and everybody was there.
The cocks crowed lustily, the hens cackled musically, the ducks quacked sweetly, the geese hissed beautifully, the chickens peeped delightfully, the gentlemen talked gravely, the ladies smiled beneficently, the children laughed joyfully, the uninitiated gaped marvelously, the crowd conversed nicely, the few knowing ones chuckled quietly – everybody enjoyed the thing immensely – and suddenly, prominent among the throng of admirers present, loomed up the stalwart form and noble head of Daniel Webster, who came, like the rest, to see what he had only read of for the six months previously.
The committee saw him and they instantly lighted on him for a speech; but he declined, ” Only a few words,” prayed one of them. “One word, one word,” insisted the chairman. “I can’t,” said Daniel. But they were importunate and unyielding, that enthusiastic committee.
“Gentlemen,” said the honorable senator, at last, amid the din. ‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ he continued, as a monster upon feathered stilts, at his elbow, shrieked out an unearthly crow that drowned the sound of his voice instanter, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, really – I would – but the noise and confusion is so great that I cannot be heard,” and a roar followed this capital hit that drowned, for the moment, at least, the music of the feathered bipeds around him.
The exhibition lasted three days. Unheard of prices were asked, and readily paid, for all sorts of fowls; most of those sold being mongrels, however. As high as thirteen dollars was paid by one man (who soon afterward became an inmate of a lunatic asylum) for a single pair of domestic fowls. It was monstrous, ridiculous, outrageous, exclaimed everyone, when this fact the absolute paying down of thirteen round dollars, then the price of two barrels of good wheat flour – was announced as having been squandered for a single pair of chickens.
By the time this fair closed, the pulse of the ‘dear people’ had come to be rather rapid in its throbs, and the fever was evidently on the increase. Fowls were in demand. Not good ones, because nothing was then said by the anxious would-be purchasers about quality. Nobody had got so far as that then. They wanted fowls only, to which they themselves gave a name.
Some fancied one breed or variety, and some another; but anything that sported feathers – from the diminutive Bantam to the stork-shaped Chinaman – everything was being sought after by ‘amateurs’ and ‘fanciers’ with a zest and a readiness to pay for, that did honor to the zeal of the youthful buyers, and a world of good to the hearts of the quiet breeders and seller, who began first to get posted up, and inured to the disease.”