The SCI at Des Moines 2016

By David Coster

The Des Moines fairgrounds was once again the location for the SCI’s national club meet this year. Anya Ellis flew in from Connecticut to judge her own creation and see how this Rare Breed is coming along in the hands of other interested Fanciers. In all other venues but Des Moines Seraphim are shown in the Rare Breeds section, as the number of dedicated breeders of this little gem around the United States is limited, making it difficult to meet the requirement for at least two competitors and ten birds for a sanctioned SCI meet.

There were twenty Seraphim at the show, eleven of which managed to make it to the ranking of “Highly Superior”.

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Above are the “victors” of The Seraphim Club International’s third-ever national club show, celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Iowa State Pigeon Association’s “Pigeons on the Prairie” annual combined show, with Anya Ellis, Judge and developer of the Seraphim breed, with their various trophies and ribbons, tired after a long day of being poked and prodded and talked about. The ISPA Show had about 4,400 entries this year with lots of designated club shows, so the SCI was in good company!

The Seraphim Club International has since been featured on the front cover of Purebred Pigeon Magazine to represent the Pigeons on the Prairie Show. There is an accompanying article on page 38 for those who are interested. You can order the January/February edition of Purebred Pigeon Magazine on line here:  www.purebredpigeon.com.

SCI Show Judges

Seraphim are shown and judged with the Rare Breeds unless SCI members have organized a sanctioned meet through the SCI. 

It is assumed that all Judges serving The Rare Breeds Pigeon Club are competent and capable of properly evaluating Seraphim in the Show hall. Seraphim can, however, be a challenge to evaluate properly and some Judges may be relatively unfamiliar with the breed,  so all Judges must review the Seraphim Show Standard and keep a copy of it on hand when judging Seraphim.  

SCI members organizing a sanctioned SCI meet for points should aspire to acquire a Judge with special expertise and interest in Seraphim. The SCI will maintain a list of Judges on this website who have special expertise with the breed. The Judge will be expected to follow the rating system and assignment of awards and points as outlined in the SCI Constitution.

The current list of those considered by the SCI to have particular special expertise in Seraphim evaluation includes:

Scott Amo – Cement City, Michigan
Anya Ellis – Woodbury, Connecticut (Creator of Seraphim)
Ron White – Marathon, Iowa
David Coster – Grinnell,Iowa
Larry Jolly – California
Stanley Vercouteren – Oostburg, WI
David Orth – Kansas

(Updated 11-24-16)

 

The 2015 Seraphim Standard

The 2015 Seraphim Standard, art work by Anya Ellis, the creator of the Seraph.

The 2015 Seraphim Standard, art work by Anya Ellis, the creator of the Seraph.

The Show Standard for a Seraph. Substantial changes in not just color, but form.

The 2009 Show Standard for a Seraph. Note the skull shape, the depth of the swoop, the arc of the skull, the depth and line of the mane, the downturn of the beak, and the prominence of the gullet. Compare to the new standard, top.

Anya’s depiction above, top, of the ideal Seraph, 2015, is a notable accomplishment. The modern Seraph is different than the Seraph of the past in subtle but significant ways, with changes particularly evident in the head. Seraphim primarily compete in the Show Ring as birds of structure, both of body and feather. This painting demonstrates the regal upright posture and the long, flowing line expected. It also demonstrates the deeply feathered mane, the deeper swoop with the needlepoint peak, and the unusually long and full frill. The slightly deeper swoop is the result of a combination of changes in feather and form: longer feathers in the mane and a rounder skull with a slightly higher arc in the top and back. The beak is definitely “down-faced”. Carefully study the new Standard to the “old” 2009 Standard below it and pay particular attention to all components of the head and neck. To the trained eye the changes are obvious even though subtle. This look is the new goal for serious Seraphim breeders.

This typey Seraph is a challenge to create, but it is a worthy effort, and certainly possible, as evidenced by the annual competition of the Seraphim Club International in Des Moines. (Please see individual Show Reports under “News.”

David Coster, SCI Club Manager

2014 National SCI Meet, Des Moines

The second District 5 (Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota) SCI club meet was held on Saturday, December 13, 2014 at the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, under the auspices of the Iowa State Pigeon Association. This meet is also a National Meet for the SCI according to the SCI Constitution, and exhibitors from across the nation are encouraged to enter Seraphim at this show. Seraphim are designated members of The Rare Breeds Club due to their small numbers, and the SCI is an affiliate of The Rare Breeds Club. Des Moines is the only location where the SCI has a concomitant show adjacent to The Rare Breeds Club show. At all other locations across the country, Seraphim are enrolled in and compete in The Rare Breeds Club area.

Eighteen Seraphim were entered by four exhibitors, with Mary Ann McNeill of Iowa winning the Grand Champion trophy and David Orth of Kansas winning the Reserve Champion trophy. Mary Ann also won trophies for Best OH and OC, and David also won trophies for Best YH and YC.

David Orth (Kansas) and Mary Ann McNeill (Iowa) with their show-winning Seraphim and Anya Ellis. Grand Champion (middle; Mc Neill), Reserve Champion (right; Orth)

David Orth (Kansas) and Mary Ann McNeill (Iowa) with their show-winning Seraphim and Anya Ellis. Grand Champion (2nd Seraph from left; Mc Neill), Reserve Champion (far right; Orth)

The Seraphim Club International at Des Moines

(As published in Purebred Pigeon magazine, Jan/Feb 2014)

Seraphim remain on the Rare Breeds List as an uncommon variety, with a few dedicated Fanciers across the United States seriously focused on maintaining and improving this 27 year old breed. The Seraphim project, started by Anne (Anya) Ellis in 1986, was intended to create a “Classic”, an artistic vision that once achieved would remain unchanged over time.

Yet Seraphim have changed significantly since 1986, and from the original Standard of Perfection of 1993, and their first exposure at a National Show at Salt Lake City in 1996. Several iterations of the Standard were developed as it became clear what was artistically and physically possible through selective breeding, with a “final” classic Standard rendered in 2009. Still, some minor delicate enhancements have occurred since then, and what Anya ultimately believes to be the final “final” will likely be unveiled in 2014, an ultimate Standard of Perfection based upon real-life experience in the loft that includes subtle changes to the head, swoop, peak, mane, and feather length. The end result is dramatic and beautiful, powerful yet delicate, alert yet peaceful, dignified but intense—and possible in real life by the dedicated Fancier.

So to celebrate this milestone in the history of Seraphim, the SCI decided, for the first time in its eleven year history, to sanction an independent Seraphim Club International Meet in Des Moines with the Iowa State Pigeon Association, and in affiliation with the Rare Breeds Pigeon Club. Not only that, the SCI decided this should be their first official National Meet for Seraphim. For such a special occasion, the Club had to do something a bit different than the normal routine, and focus strongly on new education for exhibitors to include what is expected of today’s Seraph, as well as on the history, vision, art, science, and philosophy behind Seraphim. Anya agreed to be the Judge and dedicate herself to a day of intense interaction with the exhibitors. What could have been a 90 minute long task of judging instead became a five hour marathon of education, with all exhibitors watching, listening, and asking questions as Anya went from bird to bird explaining every detail of what makes a great Seraph and what doesn’t, pulling information from many fields to paint a picture of the ultimate Seraph for the group. It was by far the most useful and fulfilling experience any of the exhibitors present ever had at a pigeon show—and exhausting! But at the end of the day, everyone understood the task before them, and exactly why their Seraphim did or did not meet the Standard of Perfection, and they understood the difference between the 2013 Seraph and the 1996 Seraph. Everyone left the show tired but newly energized. 

In keeping with the significance of this first-ever event, the SCI decorated the final judging area with white feather boas, an enormous canister of colorful holiday ornaments, and an award-winning wood carving of a Seraph done by Clark Weaver of Grinnell, Iowa. Exhibitors were present from Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Minnesota, and there were thirty-five entries for the show. Those awarded points for “Highly Superior” Seraphim included David Orth of Kansas, Judy Miller of Missouri, and David Coster of Iowa. Mary McNeil of Iowa had a last minute complication that prevented her from showing any birds that would no doubt have won points too.

Anya Ellis with her creation. From the right, Best YH, Best OH (Champion), Best YC (Reserve Champion). Best OC 5th from right; all others were finalists for Best OC

Anya Ellis admiring her creation. From the right, Best YH, Best OH (Champion), Best YC (Reserve Champion). Best OC 5th from right; #’s 4, 6, 7, and 8 from the right were finalists for Best OC

I believe the highlight for Anya Ellis may have been awarding the Champion Seraph title to a hen instead of a cock, but then again it may have been the surprise and thrill of seeing so many well-bred Seraphim under one roof from which to choose a champion, a real testament to her life-long dedication to creating the “Angel of the Pigeon Fancy.”

David Coster MD

Manager, Seraphim Club International

The Seraphim Club International Constitution

The SERAPHIM CLUB
INTERNATIONAL Constitution

Purpose:
The purpose of the Seraphim Club International (SCI) is to promote, develop, and preserve Seraphim, the White Angels of the Pigeon Fancy.

Mission Statement:
The Seraphim Club International shall achieve its purpose by the dissemination of accurate information, continuous educational support of club members, support of sanctioned club shows, promotion of Seraphim within the Pigeon Fancy, and maintenance of a comprehensive website on Seraphim.

Scope:
The club shall have an international scope that supports interest in Seraphim around the globe.

National Pigeon Association Affiliation:
The Seraphim Club International is affiliated with the National Pigeon Association as a declaration that the SCI is part of the American community of pigeon fanciers. Affiliation with the NPA is voluntary and is maintained by the payment of annual dues to the NPA.

Rare Breeds Pigeon Club Affiliation:
The Seraphim Club International is an Affiliate Club with the Rare Breeds Pigeon Club due to the “Rare” status designation of Seraphim. The Seraphim Club International maintains all the rights and responsibilities of its Affiliate status with the Rare Breeds Pigeon Club as designated in the Constitutions of both Clubs.

Membership:
Membership is open to all those interested in the breeding, care, and maintenance of Seraphim. One does not have to own Seraphim to be a member; simple interest in the Seraph Fancy is adequate. Members are expected to adhere to the highest standards in their lofts and in Show competition.

Governance:
The SCI shall have only a President and Manager. The President shall be Anya Ellis, the creator of Seraphim. The President shall provide guidance and expert advice to Members and support the Manager in his/her duties. The Manager is a volunteer position and shall be approved by the President to oversee Club operations, the website, the National SCI Meet, advertising, and other duties as seen fit by the President.

The Seraphim Show Standard

Please refer to the NPA Official Book of Standards or to The Seraphim Club International official website at http://www.seraphimclubinternational.com for the complete up-to-date Seraphim Show Standard.

Competitive Meets

Introduction: Some Seraph Fanciers strive for recognition of their breeding programs via competitive Shows and Meets, and also use such meets to interact with other Fanciers and exchange ideas for the continuous improvement of the Seraphim Breed. Those who participate in such competitions may earn points toward a “Master” status within the Seraphim Club International. In order to be considered for the “Master” Award, a Seraph Fancier must accumulate a total of 500 points in competitive meets, be a member of the SCI for five years, and be a member of the SCI at the time of application for the award. (**See the section below on Master Award Point Scales for details on the awarding of points.)

Basic Show Rules: Seraphim are on the Rare Breeds List. In the absence of an organized SCI meet, Seraphim must be shown in Rare Breeds Pigeon Club meets or in the Rare Breeds section of any regional/state/national meet according to RBPC Rules. The Seraphim Club International may also sanction official independent SCI meets or hold Joint Meets with the Rare Breeds Pigeon Club. Members of the Seraphim Club International who want to organize an SCI meet may do so and request advice/support from the SCI. To qualify the meet for Master points, the SCI Manager must be notified. The Judge must be an SCI or RBPC Recognized Judge. SCI Meets require a minimum of 2 exhibitors and 10 birds. The Seraphim Club International has designated Des Moines, Iowa, as the location for the annual National SCI Meet, in conjunction with the annual December Iowa State Pigeon Association Show, and as an Affiliate of the Rare Breeds Pigeon Club.

Judging: Judges must be expert in the method of evaluation of the nuances of the breed as well as the methods of rating and assigning points. The approach to judging Seraphim is outlined in the standard in both the 2010 NPA Book of Standards and on the SCI website.

Recognized Judges: A list of Judges specifically qualified to judge Seraphim will be maintained on the SCI website. The Rare Breeds Pigeon Club will also maintain a list of Judges qualified to fairly evaluate all Rare Breeds, including Seraphim.

Rating System and Classes:

The SCI uses the Individual Merit System of judging. The Individual Merit System of judging is an evaluation system of each individual bird in comparison with the Standard of Perfection, followed by a final Judging of the best from each Class for special awards and trophies. The Classes are Old Cock, Young Cock, Old Hen, and Young Hen. (Young applies to birds one year of age or less.)

****The highest possible rating is called “Royal” and shall be designated in show reports by the letter “R”. This rating shall be reserved for those Seraphim which are near letter perfection in all respects, and equates with a point score of 98-100 on a 100 point scale system. This rating should not be given in shows where the exceptional bird is not found. The Royal rating is an award of absolute superiority.

****A “Highly Superior” rating is given only to outstanding specimens with a point score of 94-97 on a 100 point scale; such birds typically demonstrate a single minor fault. Birds in this category shall be re-grouped to compete for a Royal rating (though possibly none may qualify). When more than one bird earns an “HS” in a show, the Judge will place the HS birds in order by labeling them HS-1, HS-2, HS-3.

****The majority of fine show birds will receive a “Superior” rating, designated by an “S”, and equivalent to a score of 90-93 on a 100 point scale. Birds that are of show quality, but have a couple of minor faults shall receive this rating. “S” birds may be ranked as S-1, S-2, S-3.

****Birds with a score of 80-89 on a 100 point scale are rated “Good”, which is designated by the letter “G”. “Good” birds may be useful as stock birds for breeding purposes. Out of condition birds may be placed in this class. If the top birds in a show are “Good”, they shall be ranked G-1, G-2, and G-3.

****The last and lowest class shall be known as “Inferior” and shall be designated by the letter “I”; this designation equates to a point score of 79 and below on a 100 point scale. Such birds may be disqualified from competition and are not recommended for breeding purposes.

MASTER AWARD POINT SCALES
Basic Rules: Points may be awarded only to Seraphim owned, bred, or raised by the individual competitor. Only Seraphim rated as Highly Superior (HS) or Royal (R) may be awarded points in competition. Additional points may be earned as the HS or R Seraph is given additional awards, such as “Best AOV”, Champion, and Reserve Champion, as the judging continues. Points are additive. SCI Meets must have at least two exhibitors and ten birds to qualify as a point meet; RBPC Meets may have any number of exhibitors and Seraph entries.

Point Scales: There are four point scales used in the Master Award program: two for RBPC (Rare Breeds Pigeon Club) meets and two for SCI (Seraphim Club International) meets. The point scales may be diminished in RBPC Meets at the discretion of the Judge if the number of birds is small or competition poor (see below). The SCI will honor both RBPC points AND SCI points when considering the SCI Master Award. Points will be added by the SCI toward the designation of “Master” at an RBPC meet if the competitor applies for the SCI Master Award.

SCI MEETS
NATIONAL MEET:
Champion Seraph                  50 points
Reserve Champion Seraph   30 points
Royal Seraph*****                  25 points
Highly Superior**                    3 – 10 points

STATE, DISTRICT, AND LOCAL MEETS:
Champion Seraph                    40 points
Reserve Champion Seraph     20 points
Royal Seraph*****                   15 points
Highly Superior**                      3 – 10 points

* All SCI Master Point Meets must have a minimum of two exhibitors and ten Seraphim. The Judge must be expert on Seraphim, with no entries in the competition.
** Highly Superior – If there are 3 or more HS birds in an SCI Meet, HS-1 shall earn 10 points, HS-2 shall earn 8 points, HS-3 shall earn 5 points, and the remaining HS birds shall earn 3 points.
***Royal is an exceptional accomplishment and must be awarded additional points.

RBPC MEETS
NATIONAL:
Champion Rare                         1+25+50= 76 pts       (51 pts – if less than 10 AOV’s)
Reserve Champion Rare          1+25+15= 41 pts       (16 pts – if less than 10 AOV’s)
Best AOV****                             1+25= 26 pts             (1pt – if less than 10 AOV’s)
Best of Breed***                        5                                 (5 pts (1pt – if less than 10 Seraphm)
Highly Superior**                       1pt                              1pt

STATE AND DISTRICT MEETS:
Champion Rare                         1+15+ 25= 41 pts       (26 pts – if less than 10 AOV’s)
Reserve Champion Rare          1+15+10= 26 pts         (11 pts – if less than 10 AOV’s)
Best AOV****                             1+15= 16 pts              (1pt – if less than 10 AOV’s)
Best of Breed***                        5pts                             (1pt – if less than 10 Seraphim)
Highly Superior**                       1pt                               1pt

*** RBPC’s “Best of Breed” – The higher number of points are awarded if 10 or more Seraphim are entered in an RBPC show and if the bird winning “Best of Breed” has earned an HS rating or higher.
**** Seraphim are in the AOV class on the RBPC list. The higher number of AOV Champion points are awarded if there are 10 or more birds in the AOV class and the winning Seraph has earned an HS rating or higher.

Master Award Member Responsibility
Members wishing to achieve the Master Award are responsible for maintaining a record of points awarded. Once the goal of 500 points has been achieved, the member must send a complete summary to the SCI Secretary. The summary must include the band numbers of all the member’s birds awarded points, the number of points awarded in each case, the listing of awards, the location and date of the Show at which the points were awarded, the type of show (State, District, National, Local; SCI or RBPC) and the name of the Judge. The Member will then be issued a Master Award certificate from the Seraphim Club International to be displayed in their home or Loft.

The SCI’s Philosophical Stance

The Seraphim Club International recognizes that not every member is interested in competition or even recognition in the Seraphim Fancy. Many simply enjoy the artistry and beauty of their Seraphim while quietly making major contributions to the Fancy. Such individuals may be the most important Members of all, as their methodology reflects the quiet reflection one must maintain to truly appreciate and understand the Seraph as a work of art. The SCI is truly grateful for the contributions of these quiet members.

It is also important to note that the SCI is a service organization rather than a political one. As such its primary interest is in the promotion of the enjoyment and pleasure of breeding and raising beautiful Seraphim.

Finally, it is worth noting that the goal of the Standard of Perfection for Seraphim has always been to create a Classic breed, one that demands no additional artistic improvement or refinement from the artist’s concept. The Standard has thus only been gradually and ever-so-carefully modified to fully reflect the genetic potential to create what the artist always imagined possible in a living entity. The Standard for a Classic breed, once established, should remain unchanged over time—-not altered or modified on a whim or sudden fancy. The Seraph Fancier must always take this into account when breeding toward the elusive Royal Seraph, and must always remain dedicated to the artistry of the Breed above all else, thus maintaining the Classic status of this beautiful living sculpture for the enjoyment of generations to come.

 

Foot-Notes

The Uniqueness of the Seraph: Most pigeon breeds were created over a period of years by a group of breeders. These breeds fall into two categories. (1) Breeds that are recognized as classics, whose standards do not vary. These standards define a final work of art and continue to be challenging for all breeders to achieve. (2) Breeds whose standards are always changing according to the tastes of those who are breeding them at the time.

There are only a few pigeon breeds that were created by an individual. Seraphim fall into this very small category. Each of these breeds is understood to be the ‘work of art’ of the person who designed the breed, for example: John Lindley designed the Indian Fantasy, Layne Bowles designed the Heart Pigeon and HP Macklin designed the Saint. Seraphim were created by Anne Ellis in East Moline, Illinois, USA. The ancestral breed of origin was the Classic Oriental Frill.

The first proposed standard for Seraphim was published in the National Pigeon Association’s 1993 “Encyclopedia of Pigeon Standards”; Seraphim were recognized by the NPA as an official breed of fancy pigeon at the Oklahoma City NPA Grand National in 1995. The second standard for Seraphim was published in the French National Standard book in 1997. In 2000 the third standard for Seraphim was published in the National Pigeon Association’s “Encyclopedia of Pigeon Standards”; the fourth standard was updated in 2009 and published in the “2010 National Pigeon Association Book of Standards”. The most recent 2013 standard is published on The Seraphim Club International website at http://www.seraphimclubinternational.com.

Breed History: 1986- Anne Ellis visits Bob Pettit and has her first lesson in pigeon genetics. Since Bob mentions that one of Anne’s blue Old Frills is ‘carrying red’, Anne prays for red babies from that bird and its brown mate.
1986- Two red babies are born in the blue X brown pair’s first clutch. The father dies (he was Anne’s first sick pigeon) and the mother is given away. Then both of the red babies turn pure white. These birds, both of which were males, are the first two Seraphim.
1987- One of the males, paired with a Silver Old Frill hen, produces no recessive red babies. The other male, paired with a brown Old Frill hen, produces one recessive red male that turns white.
1988- One male and one hen are produced. Both are born recessive red and both turn white.
1989- Three Seraphim are produced.
1990- Nine Seraphim are produced.
1991- Forty-five Seraphim are produced.
1992- Sixty Seraphim are produced. Bob Pettit tells Anne that for Seraphim to be recognized as an official breed, a written standard must be presented to the National Pigeon Association. Frank Barrachina encourages Anne to write the standard and agrees to have it included as a proposed standard in the NPA “Encyclopedia of Pigeon Standards.”
1993- A proposed Standard for Seraphim is published in the NPA “Encyclopedia of Pigeon Standards.”
1993- Ten Seraphim are displayed by Anne Ellis at the NPA Grand National Show in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Ten Seraphim (five male and five female) must be exhibited at the NPA Grand National for three consecutive years before the NPA Board of Directors will consider recognition of the breed.
1994- Ten Seraphim are displayed by Anne Ellis at the NPA Grand National Show in Portland, Oregon.
1994- Seraphim are introduced to the fancy pigeon world via two American pigeon magazines. Seraph OC # 341 appears on the cover of the April edition of the “Pigeon Debut” and Anne Ellis’s article, “A Great Grand National for the New Kid on the Block” is printed inside. A full page of color Seraph photos and “That’s What It’s All About”, by Anne Ellis, are published in the April edition of the “Pigeon Fancier.”
1994- Seraphim are included in the NPA “Wonderful World of Pigeons” coloring book. Drawing by Diane Jacky.
1995- Ten Seraphim are displayed by Anne Ellis at the NPA Grand National Show in Oklahoma City.
1995- Anne Ellis makes a presentation to the NPA Board of Directors detailing the history, genetics and increasing popularity of Seraphim. The NPA Board of Directors votes to recognize Seraphim as an official breed.
1995- Four Seraphim, exhibited at the NPA Grand National, are sold to Gottfried Ernst, who imports them into Germany.
1995- Two articles written by Anne Ellis are published in the “Pigeon Fancier.” “Thanksgiving in January” covers the recognition of the Seraphim by the NPA (May issue). “Judges Beware” covers Seraphim judging techniques (November issue).
1995- Raul Delgado’s article, “The Seraphim and Me” is published in the “Pigeon Debut.”
1995- Harold Jones’ article, “The Seraphim and Their Angel” is published in the “Pigeon Fancier.”
1996- Seraphim compete for the first time in an NPA Grand National (Salt Lake City). Seraph // OC # 262 wins Grand National Champion Rare.
1996- Seraphim are featured in the German magazine “Deutsche geflügel Zeitung.” (article by Anne Ellis, translation by Frieda Lind.)
1996- Seraphim are featured on the cover of the French pigeon magazine, “Columbiculture.” (article by Anne Ellis, translation by F. Xabada.)
1997- Seraphim compete in the NPA Grand National (Lancaster) and four birds are purchased by Gottfried Ernst for a second importation of Seraphim into Germany.
1997- With the help of Jean-Louis Frindel, the standard for Seraphim is included in the French national pigeon association (SNC) standard book.
1997- Seraphim are featured in the Dutch magazine “Avicultura.” (article by Anne Ellis, translation by “Avicultura”)
1998- Two articles by Anne Ellis are published in the “Pigeon Debut” Rare Breeds Special Edition. “It’s Greek to Me” covers the vocabulary needed to describe Seraphim and “What’s in a Name” deals with the intricacies of the name, Seraphim.
2000- Seraphim are exported from the Illinois to Gabriel Thomas in France.
2000- The Seraphim standard is printed in the 2000 edition of the National Pigeon Association’s “Encyclopedia of Pigeon Standards.”
2000- Seraphim are exported from France to Belgium.
2001- Seraphim are exported from France to Czechoslovakia.
2001- Seraphim are featured in the Czechoslovakian magazine, “chovaltel rádce.” (Article by Jerry Sindelar, based on interview of Anne Ellis.)
2002- Attempt to export Seraphim from Illinois to Belgium fails due to New Castle outbreak in California.
2002- The SERAPHIM CLUB INTERNATIONAL is founded by Anne Ellis.
2003- Seraphim are exported from Germany to Denmark.
2003- Seraphim are exhibited by Maurice Denis of Belgium at the German National VDT Show in Cologne, Germany. Anne Ellis makes a speech about the Seraphim at the VDT conference. Seraphim are exhibited by Rene Dautel and Jean-Pierre Demuyter at the French National SNC Show in Chambery, France. Anne Ellis makes a speech on the pigeon fancy and the Seraphim at the SNC banquet.                                                             2010- The website “seraphimclubinternational.com” was established as an encyclopedic source of information on Seraphim.                                                                                   2013- The first ever “National” Seraphim Club International club meet was held in Des Moines                                                                                                                                       2015- The Seraphim Standard of Perfection was modified and updated by Anya Ellis

Seraphim: Does Color Matter?

YES, it does.

“Why? How?”

Let’s begin.

Seraphim originated from Satinette patterned Classic Oriental Frills in 1986…

“Yeah, I know that! They’re just white Oriental Frills!”

No….sorry to burst your bubble, but  they’re neither “just white” nor “Oriental Frills”! They’re Seraphim, and as such they are a white created a special sort of way, and though derived from Classic Oriental Frills and carrying all the same genes, they are no more “Oriental Frill” than an American Show Racer is a Racing Homer. Selective breeding has carried Seraphim far from their original origins in character, form, and color.

Seraphim, being in the Owl family,  have lots of mutations that vary from wild-type, including—-but not limited to—grouse foot feathering, chest frill, needle-point peak crest, mane, gullet, and short beak. Other genes influence structure, stance, feather length, and skull shape and size, which are all critical factors that differentiate Seraphim from other breeds, including their breed of origin. These traits are inherited with the influence of multiple genes and modifying factors and are significantly affected by careful (or careless) breeding programs.

The 2015 Seraphim Standard, art work by Anya Ellis, the creator of the Seraph.

The 2015 Seraphim Standard of Perfection, art work by Anya Ellis, the creator of the Seraph. Substantial changes to the peak, swoop, mane, head shape, skull size, beak, length, and stance since 1986 have changed Seraphim considerably from the original two birds first found in Anya’s loft. These changes strongly differentiate Seraphim from their breed of origin, the Classic Oriental Frill.

Based on the results of historical test crosses, the color genes present in Seraphim are: Recessive Red (or yellow), Satinette Piebald, White Flight, White-sides, and some unknown genetic factors that turn the tail white—-“tail-whitening” genes. Until these genes are precisely located and defined by DNA sequencing, this description is the best we can do.  As for color, Seraphim MUST be visual recessive red or yellow as juveniles, and the color distribution MUST be specifically in the Satinette pattern, i.e. colored wing shields and tail. The head, neck and body are piebald (white), along with the 10 primary flight feathers. The Satinette pattern does not have to be perfect (it is difficult to breed a perfectly marked Satinette), but the pattern must be obvious. If a youngster has markings inconsistent with standard Satinette, one must consider the possibility that the Seraph Color Gene Complex has been corrupted and the parents are not Seraphim.

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The above archival photo shows an early Seraph cock with his juvenile offspring. A couple of things stand out. First, this cock from the early years is noticeably shorter and stockier than the current standard and is not considered ideal. Second, note the recessive red coloration in the baby, as well as the mismarked primary flights and neck feathers. Notice that the tail feather and wing covert feather tips are emblazoned with red, and the bodies of the feathers are white, evidence of early shutdown of pigment production. This is typical. The discontinuation of pigment production occurs at variable times in juvenile feather formation, and thus youngsters may have feathers tipped only in red, or each entire feather in the tail and wingshields may be pigmented. In addition the juvenile markings may demonstrate the underlying presence of oriental frill and/or toy stencil.

First baby out of NoBand and Snow. 2012. One month old.

The above 2012 photo of a rather petrified little Seraph demonstrates the Satinette pattern of the juvenile: red wing shield and tail, white everyplace else. Note that the pigment distribution is different in this baby, and muted compared to the other.The red may be spread and pure, or it may be faint with just the tips of the feathers affected, or some pattern in-between as in this case, but it MUST be in this Satinette distribution. The Satinette markings are perfect in this baby, but perfection is not required (only desired) in the phenotype (appearance), as long as the proper genotype (the necessary genes for the basic Satinette pattern) is present. With known Seraph parents, the presence of this Satinette pattern in recessive red confirms the pedigree of the young Seraph.

When the first molt is complete at 5-6 months of age, the young Seraph should be pure white—as demonstrated in the photo below of the baby from the previous photo taken at the Des Moines ISPA Show. The transformation to white in Seraphim is what is different about the white of Seraphim. There is typically no transition period; no gradual or progressive change to white over successive molts—it is immediate. Sometimes a few red feathers will remain after the first molt simply because they weren’t molted.  Residual red juvenile feathers will be replaced with white at the second molt.

A particularly beautiful young Seraph cock.

A gorgeous young Seraph cock. This is the baby seen in the photo above, now a young adult seen at the Des Moines ISPA Show. It is an absolutely dazzling pure white after the first molt as expected, not a red feather remains. The white of Seraphim is so bright it is difficult for a camera to adjust to the effect to take a proper photograph. Also notice how different in form this modern day Seraph is from the much earlier Seraph cock in the first photograph. This bird demonstrates the regal statuesque structure expected of today’s Seraphim.

So….color and pattern matter, as does form. The Seraphim Color Gene Complex must be visually demonstrated in juvenile Seraphim, along with the expected structural attributes demanded in today’s Show Standard as they mature. This confirms  the presence of a proper genetic pedigree in the juvenile bird as well as the adults that produced it. Introducing the Seraphim Color Gene Complex into a population of Classic Oriental Frills does NOT create Seraphim. The fine-tuned physical attributes that make a Seraph a Seraph are lost in the process, as is the personality,  and the result is neither quality Classic Oriental Frills nor quality Seraphim, just pet-quality mutts, pretty though they may be. The only way to assure Show Quality Seraphim is through the purchase of high quality stock with a known pedigree, followed by a dedicated and scrupulous breeding program.

For some, Seraphim are the most visually exquisite breed of Fancy Show Pigeon ever created. The decades long process to create their delicate, angelic, and regal appearance while yet maintaining a strong natural constitution was an arduous combined artistic/scientific endeavor requiring the input and help of many experts, including Doc Hollander. As the developer of the breed, Anya Ellis is in real-life an artist. Seraphim are, at the end of the day, not just a complicated genetic enigma. They are really art, beauty, and spirit, and a gorgeous addition to any loft.

David Coster M.D.

Editor, The Seraphim Club International