The Development of the 2017 Seraphim Standard – A Brief History and Visual Comparison

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 below.


Anya Ellis’ depiction above of the ideal Seraph, 2017, 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. The new painting demonstrates the regal upright posture and the long, flowing line demanded of all Seraphim. It also demonstrates the more deeply feathered mane, the deeper swoop leading to the needlepoint peak, and the unusually long and full frill expected of the 2017 Seraph. The deeper swoop is the result of a combination of changes in feather and form: longer feathers in the mane and a rounder, larger skull with a higher skull arc in the top and back. The beak is definitely “down-faced”. The gullet has to be readily apparent.

Carefully compare the new Standard to the “old” 2009 Standard above 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.

The 2017 Standard has been in development since the SCI Club Show of 2013, at which time a long range discussion was begun about the skull and the ideal of the “apple-headed” Seraph, a trait highly desired but difficult to create. Discussion also surrounded the concept of the “frilly” Seraph vs. the “physical” Seraph, i.e. what is the proper balance of feminine frilliness versus masculine physicality and power. The androgenous appearance of the Seraph is the result of the tension between the two selves – the masculinity of physical power, form, and stance and the femininity of long feather, frills, and softness. Ideally both sexes carry a perfect balance of masculinity and femininity. If the feminine frilliness and long feather is overpowering, the bird is beautiful but looks weak; if the powerful masculine form is overpowering and the feathering too short, the feminine effect of the frilliness is lost, along with the androgeny the breed is expected to demonstrate. In Seraphim, artistic balance is paramount. A perfect Seraph should be a delight to the eye and should elicit an emotional response from the viewer. The bird should give off an aura of delicate power.

This typey Seraph is a challenge to create, but it is a worthy effort, and certainly possible, as evidenced in the past decade by the many examples of Seraphim meeting this new Standard when The Seraphim Club International hosted its regional/national club show at the “Pigeons on the Prairie” competition sponsored by the Iowa State Pigeon Association in Des Moines. (Please see individual Show Reports under “News.”)

David Coster

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. (Pigeons on the Prairie.) This meet was 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 current location where the SCI sometimes 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 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)