The Short Faced Tumbler of England has a just claim to being one of the very oldest breeds of fancy pigeons. Their history can go back over three hundred years. Willughby, the noted naturalist in his 'Ornithology' of 1676 briefly mentions that 'Tumblers are small and of diverse colours'.
Almonds came into public favour at a very early period for they were already an established variety before the first Pigeon Society of which any record in England is known was formed in London in 1720. In John Moore's book of 1735, 'The Columbarian', he writes; 'The Tumbler is a very small pigeon, short bodied, full breasted, thin necked, very short and spindle beaked, and a round button head, short legs; the iris of the eye of a bright pearl colour'. At the time of Moore, the breed was three coloured, called Almond or Ermine.
In 1764, the Columbarian Society published a standard for the breed. The breed has the honour of being the first single breed to have a book published about it in March 1802, a Treatise on 'An Art of Breeding and Managing the Almond Tumbler', believed to have been written by W P Windus.
In 1800, a Club for Almonds, Mottle, Balds and Beards was formed. Mr Bellamy, a noted Almond breeder and Sir John Sebright were founder members. J C Lyell in his book of 1881 suggested that the breed was developed from a cross with the Goolee, which at that time was said to 'bear a remarkable resemblance in type to the short Faced Tumbler', but there was no authentic record to confirm this idea.
There was a report in 'The Field' of 19 October 1872, of an address given by Mr Jayne to the National Peristeronic Society when he was President. His subject was 'The Almond Tumbler', and he said '. . . I should admire it as a purely English manufactured pigeon'. He also referred to his friend the late Mr Harry Edward Money, past Chairman of the City Columbarian Society, as being the only one who knew the make-up of the breed, which consisted of thirty-two crosses from which the breed was produced.
We must not get the idea of a vast number of different breeds being used in these early days; I would suggest that perhaps it took some 32 matings to produce the breed to its type at that time. Certainly the Mookee was in England by 1676 so there is no reason why the Goolee should not have been present and also used as a cross. The drawings in Eaton's book and the coloured plates in Fulton's which devotes much space to that breed, suggest type has not changed very much over the past one hundred years. Many will accept the birth of the breed in 1886 when our present Short Face Tumbler Club was founded.