By J. H. Drevenstedt
Twenty years ago, Orpingtons were exhibited in America for the first time, the Single Comb Black Orpington being the original variety shown. It was the first of a distinctly new breed of fowl, originated in 1886 by William Cook of Orpington, County of Kent , England , whence Orpingtons take their name.
Being "English, you know," it took the American poultry breeders some years to become interested and enthusiastic over Orpingtons. Objections to fowls with black legs and white skin were lodged against Black Orpingtons and later the white or pink legs and white skin of Buff and White Orpingtons was considered a serious market handicap, as Americans demanded yellow-skinned and yellow-legged poultry. So the doom of the Orpintons was predicted before breeders on this side of the Atlantic became acquainted with the good qualities of this new English race of fowl, or realized that a master hand at promoting and advertising new breeds was at work in England, Australia, and America, boosting the breed he originated, by lavish use of printers' ink, which included much free advertising for himself-for the originator was a clever writer on poultry topics, as well as a very shrewd breeder and dealer.
The superior qualities of his Orpingtons were "laid on with a thick brush," the defects kept in the background. The result of all these persistent and insistent claims of superiority over all other breeds is that Orpingtons are today the most popular fowl in England and have made such rapid strides toward popularity in this country, notably in White Orpingtons, that they have become dangerous rivals of the American Plymouth Rocks, Wyandottes , Rhode Island Reds, and Leghorns.
The originator, William Cook, died in 1904, at a time when Orpingtons were beginning to boom rapidly, thanks to the late and lamented Mr. Cook and the hustling and able efforts of Wallace P. Willett of East Orange , N.J. , editor and publisher of "The Orpington." This was before the day of Owen Farms, Ernest Kellerstrass and other "big guns" of the Orpington fancy of today, Charles Vass, Dr. Paul Kyle, Wallace P. Willett, Frank W. Gaylor and William Davis being the pioneers in the early Buff Orpington days; but when Mr. Cook appeared at the Madison Square Garden, New York, in 1903 with a great string of English Orpingtons and received fulsome press notices in the daily papers of his exhibits; arranged in a clever manner at one end of the big show arena, the real Orpington boom in the United States and Canada was launched.
As an advance agent, William Cook was in a class by himself; as a salesman he was a star, the prices realized by him for Orpingtons at that memorable show being exceedingly high. The purchasers were men of wealth, as a rule, who realized that aside from the fancy end, it would be a good business investment as well. A study of the comparative growth in popularity of Orpingtons in D. E. Hale's article on another page of this book, will justify the judgment of these shrewd fanciers who bought at that time.
Orpingtons First Exhibited in America in 1890
Single Comb Black Orpingtons were first exhibited at the show of the Massachusetts Poultry Association, held in Boston , in 1890. Single Comb Buff Orpingtons were first exhibited at the Madison Square Garden Show, New York , in 1899, twelve single entries and one pen being the total.
In 1901, the entries increased to nineteen single and one pen of Buff Orpingtons, Charles Vass, Wallace P. Willett, and Doctor Paul Kyle being the exhibitors. At New York in 1909-10, 157 Single Comb Buff, 122 Single Comb Black, 134 Single Comb White, 17 Diamond Jubilee, 5 Spangled, 25 Rose Comb Buff, 13 Rose Comb Black, and 5 Rose Comb White Orpingtons were exhibited, making a total of 478 Orpingtons-a remarkable showing for a breed of English origin in a country where there was supposed to be little demand for poultry with white skin and white or black shanks.
Sincere thanks to Warren Tye from Orpington breeders and exhibitors everywhere for his twelve years of outstanding service to the United Orpington Club.
Without Warren's timely and interesting newsletters, his good cheer, and his enthusiasm for Orpingtons, the UOC would not be in the robust state of health that it is in today.
And thanks to Warren's highly successful breeding programs for bantam Orpingtons and his willingness to ship bantam Orpington chicks to interested buyers everywhere, we now see quality bantam Orpingtons in shows (and on Champions' Row) from coast to coast.
It's a wonderful and remarkable legacy. Thank you Warren Tye.
Early Orpington History
Wallace p. Willett of East Orange, New Jersey, sends us the following interesting data relating to the early history of the Orpingtons:
"I have been keeping fancy fowls as a hobby not as a business, except in certain instances, for the past fifty years, and have handled in that time almost every nameable breed from the Shanghai , my first purchase in the eighteen fifties, up to the present time. I was always on the lookout for something new and promising in the poultry world-at home and abroad. When the Anconas started to boom in England , I brought them here and trap-nested them for four years or more, but gave them up as not filling the bill for an all round purpose fowl.
"The October, 1897, number of Farm Poultry printed a picture of Wm. Cook and of his Black and Buff Orpingtons and the editorial correspondence of A. F. Hunter, who was then visiting poultry plants in England , gave an interesting account of meeting Mr. Cook who personally showed him about his poultry farm near Orpington village. Mr. Hunter said that Mr. Cook's business included the shipment of 10,404 sittings of eggs in nine months. This and more written by Editor Hunter gave me the Orpington fever at once and I immediately entered into correspondence which resulted in one importation early in 1898 of Black, Buff and White Orpington eggs, direct from Mr. Cook's farm, from which my first Orpington chicks of these varieties were hatched. I made a second importation by steamer in September of the same year. Up to that year, 1898, no Buff or White Orpingtons had been brought into the United States , but perhaps a dozen Blacks had come in.
"Daniel Love exhibited a Black cock and two hens at Worcester , Mass. , in January, 1891, and Wm. McNeil, London , Canada , entered one Black cockerel at the Boston show, in 1897. Four Blacks were exhibited at New York in 1896 by C. S. Williams, New Jersey , and five Blacks were shown at New York , in 1898, by Geo. M. Shaw.
"A careful examination of poultry records shows no other entries at poultry exhibition in the United States . The few Black Orpingtons exhibited had not caused the breed to make much progress here.
"In 1898 C. E. Vass , Washington , N. J., brought over a pen of Buff Orpingtons from 'a successful breeder in England ,' not from Wm. Cook direct, and exhibited them at Mount Gretna , Pa. This was the first exhibit of Buff Orpingtons in America .
"In September, 1898, R. S. Templin , Colla , Ohio , advertised 'A few Buff Orpington pullets wanted in exchange for one or two cockerels.'
"In 1899 Mr. Vass made two entries at Boston and he and his neighbors made seventeen entries at New York . At Philadelphia in 1899, there were two exhibited and this is the record of Buffs up to January, 1900.
"The exhibits of 1899 served to call attention to their merits and there was quite a little demand for Orpington eggs. At the New York show, in 1900, there were 43 entries. The writer made his first exhibit at this show, entering two Blacks and two Buffs, winning two firsts on Blacks but nothing on Buffs.. The 'Cook Type' of Buffs had not been judged before and differed somewhat from the 'Vass Type' which had already been judged. It was the only type known previous to the showing of the 'Cook Orpingtons' but the latter came to the front immediately after.