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Pigeons Of Galati
By K.D. Spurling (1999)
The breed commonly known as the Galati Tumbler (German: Galatzer Tummler), while an obscurity in North America, is the most traditional of flying breeds in Romania and takes its name from the city of Galati in East Romania on the Black Sea, also known as “Galatz” by the German speaking Austro-Hungarian Imperialists who once occuppied much of Romania until thwarted by Autocratic Imperial Russia in the first few weeks of World War One.
Altho this breed first became known to the American Fancy with Levi’s “Encyclopedia Of Pigeon Breeds” in 1967 (who errornously treated the Moriscari Galati as a seperate breed), this breed did not reach the North American continent until it was exported to Canada in 1982 by Ulrich Reber of Germany. Ever since this time, the breed has been subject to relative obscurity, as well as to great misunderstandings, largely due to a great lack of correct information and for a decade and a half, the breed has errornously been reffered to as the “Galatzer Roller” and touted as an exceptionally deep rolling performer.
From the native standpoint, especially with the old Romanian masters of this breed, this pigeon does not exist in any true singular form in Romania. Altho the Romanian name “Jucator de Galati” (Tumbler of Galati)is used very widely in certain parts of Romania, this name is not viewed as correct by the older breeders who have spent decades cultivating them. This point is very well illustrated simply by the title of that great Galati master, Ovidiu Leonte’s 200 plus page treatise “Porumbeii Galateni” which was published at Bucharest in 1994. A literal translation of the title is “Galati Pigeons”, a term used extensively in this work by one of the last of the masters of these particular pigeons.
We use the term “Galati Pigeon” simply because there really is no such pigeon as a “Galatzer Roller” or a “Galati Tumbler” in any singular form. In reality, there are over 100 sub-breeds within the Galati sub-genre and we often then use the terminology “Breeds Of Galati”. These “breeds” are generally named after their developers and while all share common bonds in relation, they differ in type, colors, markings, ornaments, eye colors, size, tail and wing structure, as well as in their flight and performance. These differences are not due to a lack of accepted standard or lack of unity on the part of the breeders. To the contrary, the club which caters to these pigeons in Romania is one of the oldest pigeon clubs world-wide and due to having been overseen by the required Socialist Securiate representitives for over 70 years, like so many other clubs in East Europe, a very “tight ship” is run and American clubs pale in comparison.
(Note: Under Socialist governments, ALL clubs in the former Eastern Bloc were overseen by either the KGB or National Securiate). The reason for the extensiveness of the Galati breeds is due simply to taste on the part of each group of breeders and this taste is perfectly acceptable by all and under full standarization. The fact that the National club over Romania issued a standard exceeeding 150 pages to properly define and seperate each sub-variation illustrates just how acceptable the situation is.
Of these sub-breeds, the two most highly regarded in Romania are the Mironescu Galati and the Moriscari
Worldwide, the Moriscari are the best known of all the Galati breeds. Levi (1967) quotes Peterfi to note that “Moriscar” means “hand-mill” in Romanian and that this term refers to actual rolling. However, altho the translation to hand-mill is correct, the Moriscari name actually derives from the breeder Gioni Moriscar who lived at Galati in the 19th Century. Moriscar is known to have crossed together what are known today as the Kaluga Black Turmani (Czernopegije Turmani) from Western Russia to local tumbling pigeons. This yielded a medium sized tumbler with a semi cubical head, a flesh colored, thick beak, long cast type and with the standardized Moriscari markings which consist of a colored stripe beginning at the forehead and sweeping over the crown, down the back of the neck and to the wings. The remainder is white. The colored portions are typically Black or Dun from the Kalujski ancestory, but like their Turmani ancestors, the Moriscari are also bred in red, yellow, “Russian Gray” (spread ash red) and blue. The Moriscari are reknown for their performing abilities in that they are modified horizontal performing rollers who perform into the rear of the kit and descend great distances in a crescent shaped arc. The Moriscari are ancestors to a large number of other Galati variants, the best known being what are known to the West as Constanta Medium Faced Tumblers.
The Mironescu Galati are by far the most prized in Romania and are named for the late Nikola Mironescu of Bucharest, who before his death in the early 1980’s was the oldest and most respected flying pigeon fancier in Romania. Mironescu’s pigeons originated by crossing together the Vargat Tumblers with the pigeons his father developed. This variety is, in the hearts and minds of most, the most beautiful of the Galati collective. They are typically Blue pigeons, either with black or white barring, white flights, white tail retrices and with either a white ring around the neck (Gulerati), a white crescent on the breast (Leftati) or with a row of white dots around the neck, looking like a string of pearls (Margaleti). As well, from the Vargat ancestry, the Mironescu typically feature dragging wings and a slightly erect tail of 14 to 18 retrices. The Mironescu Galati are reknown for their highflying ability and are not to perform in any manner.
At this writing (Oct. 1999), there have been at least five importations of Galati to the North American continent.
The first two were those of Reber in the early 1980’s. These two imports were composed of not only Moriscari, but also the pigeons of a fancier named Gheorgescu of Bucharest, which Reber had aqquired second hand from the Hungarians in the late 1970’s. The Gheorgescu Galati are typically Barred Ash Red Selfs with the occassional Cream, very long of type, medium in size, the wings typically below the tail and with a semi cubical head. This is completely contrary to the Moriscari in many ways. In the air, the Gheorgescu (contrary to the claims put up by many early advertisers of the Reber import lines) are short rolling tumblers with a duration of 4 to 8 hours on an average day. Over the last decade and a half, due to incorrect breeding, the Moriscari exported by Reber have been lost through homogenization with the Gheorgescu Galati. As a consequence of crossing the two types, the descendents of the Reber imports have undergone a complete ruination at the hands of American breeders, but as many of those who had involvement in the Reber importation regarded the Galati which were imported as “a dissappointment”, it is quite likely that this ruination actually began in Germany and was simply carried to North America with the birds. In reviewing the original records of the imports by Reber, it becomes clear that there was a great deal to be desired of the information about the birds sent over. With this in mind, the fact that none of the blood of the Reber imports in all but the Kelebeks has gone on to enhance the flying culture of the American Rare Breeds fancy illustrates that more and better information was needed. Subsequently, the Reber importation has largely become nothing but “show waste”, which is a greater punishment than extinction for what are intended to be flying pigeons.
With lack lustre stock, opposed to giving up, those interested simply arranged for the genuine article from the top Romanian lofts.
In late 1997, myself and the late Gary Blain imported two pairs from the city of Sighisoara of the pure Gheorgescu Galati. That same year, a 20 bird shipment reached Toronto’s Slavic Quarter, representing 6 sub-varieties of Galati from top studs in East Romania.
Then, earlier this year I received an invite from a friend in the city of Sighisoara that I could not refuse. For nearly two weeks I toured lofts in Romania, especially those of the old time masters of this breed and put every conceivable question a journalist can muster to these remaining masters of the breed in its homeland, especially to a new friend by the name of Gica, who is the son of the great Nikola Mironescu. Gica was also kind enough to present me with a gift of a hand picked top pair from his old bird kit to take back to the United States. Over those 13 days I took in no sites, no bus tours of the Carpathians, no musuems, no trendy restaraunts, no bad Romanian films and none of the other tourist bunk, because for this fancier, there is no greater sight than a kit of pigeons, especially those cleaving through their native sky above the loft of their grandmasters. Totally, I saw 73 kits over that trip and the days seemed to run into each other for each day lasted well into the night and by 6 AM we were out seeing pigeons again.
The Galati on this continent today, of which over 300 are already registered with the SouthEast European and Russian Breeds Club (as of Oct.99) trace primarily back to the Sighisoara import of ‘97 and the East Romanian ‘97 import opposed to the descendents of the Reber import, altho even this early on, there are a great number of demands for pairs off the Mironescu pair, as can be easily understood. Hopefully, this is a sign that that a new life has come into the breed on this continent as a flying pigeon.