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Sumatra Stag John K. Photo by Busterbites
Sumatra Stag John K. Photo by Busterbites
Sumatra Stag John K. Photo by Busterbites
Sumatra Stag John K. Photo by Busterbites
A rendering of old style Sumatra from C.A. Finsterbusch
A rendering of old style Sumatra from C.A. Finsterbusch
Sumatra owned by Wanda Zwart
Sumatra owned by Wanda Zwart
Blue Sumatra owned by Wanda Zwart
Blue Sumatra owned by Wanda Zwart
Blue Sumatra pair owned by Wanda Zwart
Blue Sumatra pair owned by Wanda Zwart
Splash Sumatra cockerel owned by Wanda Zwart
Splash Sumatra cockerel owned by Wanda Zwart
Sumatra from the old East-German lines owned by Wanda Zwart
Sumatra from the old East-German lines owned by Wanda Zwart


Background information

The first Sumatra been introduced to the West have been imported by a US breeder called J.Butters from Boston and were shipped from Angers Point in Sumatra (Indonesia). Some people see the Sumatra as a pure exhibition fowl but behind its elegant appearance a true piece of gamefowl is hidden. The first Sumatra imported into the States were crossed with local "American Game" strains. The offspring of these crosses were very successful. They proved to be very accurate, quick and aggressive. The locals from Sumatra trapped these birds during mating season a time of extreme aggression and fighting spirit. After the end off the season the birds were released. Some of these wild Sumatra specimens stalked some local "chicks". This breed shows features of a pheasant. Due the long tail, its character and the growth of double or triple spurs some scientists strongly believe that they are close relatives of the pheasant family. After the introduction of the first Sumatra's into England under the name of "Malay pheasants" the breed more and more was used for exhibition purpose. The Sumatra is a fairly good layer and sitter. They are very active and alert and make often use of their wing power taking of vertically to avoid danger. Large pens are essential to keep and accomidate them. Typical physical features: a rather small head with dark eyes, small pea comb, a long tail well developed. The shanks are black allover or olive green with yellow under the foot. Sometimes the birds show a dark face. Today the Sumatra is only known being all black of colour with a beetle green glossy shine on the feathers. Their weight: male 5.5 Lbs (2.5 Kg), the hen 4.4 Lbs (2.0 Kg). Today the Sumatra is not being used anymore as active pit fowl. However in Northern France where the sport is legal, the Sumatra has been used again as cross fowl with fair results. It is not unthinkable that the game character completely has been lost during the years of extensive breeding for exhibition purposes. Proper breeding and selection must can give an answer to this question.)

I now introduce the most celebrated Game fowls known. I am not in favor of cock-fighting, by any means ; but as I have undertaken to furnish a truthful history of the gallinaceous tribes at least, those of the most important and valuable breeds, I should fail to do justice to my subject, if I omitted the Games. In some sections of our country, the rearing of fowls for the " pit"is quite extensive, especially at the south ;and the repugnance of the people in those sections to the practice of pitting them, is much less than at the north. The indomitable perseverance and courage of the Sumatra Pheasant Games, is worthy our admiration. They will fight as long as enough of their body hangs together to retain the vital spark, and they yield to nothing but death. Dr. Bennett does not overrate them, as I have much corroborative evidence of their enduring powers and unflinching courage when pitted, and I have had personal experience of their courage, having procured a pair from Dr. Bennett's stock. The cock in my possession has whipped every other rooster I own, and without spurs, being too young to have them grown, if this breed does ever have them, which I think doubtful, from present appearances. They are probably pitted with steel gafts, usually. No other fowl can compare with them in beauty of plumage that beautiful green metallic luster for which they are noted, and with which they are invariably bred by Dr. Bennett. The portraits here given, are true to life. The following is Dr. Bennett's description of them. Dr. B. was one of the first breeders, and the principle breeder of these Games in this country : These fowls are called " Pheasants " by the natives of Sumatra, from their strong resemblance to that bird in the length of their tail, and the manner of carrying it, which is horizontal, or in a line with their body, and not erect, like other Games. The magnificent plume-feathers of the cock's tail frequently sweep the ground, and the tail of the hen is fan-shaped. The cervical contour, likewise, strikingly resembles that of the wild pheasant, and the general aspect of the Sumatra Pheasant Game is symmetrical and unique in the extreme. In this country we adopt the name of "Pheasant" Game, to designate this particular breed, and to distinguish it from another excellent breed of Games, imported from Sumatra by Capt. Silver, and known as "Silver Games," but which are designated "Sumatra Games," in the late report of the New England Poultry Society. These "Sumatra Games " are larger, and carry their tail decidedly more erect man the " Sumatra Pheasant Games," and the two breeds differ materially in general contour and brilliancy of plumage, though both breeds are GAME to the death. The Sumatra Pheasant Games maybe thus described : Head, small, with a powerful beak ; eyes, lustrous, quick, and fiery ; the comb is what is known to cockers as a "pea-comb," from its resemblance to a pea-blossom ; that is, it is a small, serrated comb, studded upon either side by a smaller comb, giving it the appearance of three combs; but some of this breed have single combs ; wattles, small, with a very small, dew-lap; hackles of the neck and loins, very long and brilliant ; tail, long and drooping, or horizontal, with abundant plume feathers, sweeping the ground ; body, slim, and very symmetrical ;legs, sinewy, with a powerful and muscular thigh ; bottom of the feet and skin 01 the body, of a bright yellow ; color of plumage, variable but I generally prefer to breed the black, or very dark, as a matter of fancy.The Sumatra Pheasant Games are among the very finest of the Wild Indian bloods, and compare favorably with any of the game race. Like all well bred Games, they never cringe they never cower before the steel, nor quail at the terrors of the bloody pit They were imported into Boston, from the island of Sumatra, by Mr. J. A. C. Butters and Mr. Joseph Muncreeff, and closely resemble the Bengal Games in general contour, with the exception of the length of the neck, which is usually shorter. The small pea-comb and tiny wattles of this breed of Games, require but little trimming to fit them for the pit. The males have a small dew-lap, like the Wild Indian Mountain Fowl, but never have the muffler which is always to be found in that unique bird. They are fast and indomitable fighters, and their other qualities are the same as other high bred Games. Their plumage is usually brilliant, and their symmetry unsurpassed ; in fact, I should not consider my Game stock complete without the beautiful Sumatras. Mr. J. A. C. Butters, the importer, from whom I obtained my stock, in a letter to the writer, of March 20th, 1851, observes: "As to the history of the Sumatra Pheasant Games, I can only say I received two hens and one cock o*f this breed, direct from Anger's Point, Island of Sumatra, India, April, 1847. These fowls are found there in flocks of twenty or mone, and fly across from the Island of Sumatra to the Island of Java ; the natives call them Pheasants, and are very choice of those they capture and breed. They are kept almost exclusively for fighting there. The natives get them very domestic. I have spent considerable time in finding some history of them in print, but have not, as they are distinctly from the Bankiva cock, that being quite small, and carries the tail erect, like the Sebright Bantam. There is the skin of one of the same at Washington, D. C., in the collection of the U. S. Exploring Expedition, I took a drawing of it last fall, when there it is the same fowl. It was in a cabinet of birds from the East Indies. At that time they were numbered, but no account had been then printed. These fowls have proved to be most excellent layers. I do not exaggerate when I say that they will Jay a greater weight of eggs than any other breed, in the same time, I say weight, because there is so much said about the large size of the Cochins Chinas, Shanghaes, &c., <fcc. The Game eggs appear small, but, like the fowl, are of extra weight ; the flesh is unsurpassed by any domestic breed ; they are small eaters ; very quiet when acquainted with each other, and do not quarrel as much as DUNG-HILLS, but when opposed by a strang'er, their tenacity of purpose and courage, is unequaled by any bird. They do not come to maturity before the end of a year. If you will examine the spur of those sent, you will see that it is not set firm. They ought never to strike a blow until the spur is firmly set to the leg. I have but one breed of fowls, and have had no other for nearly four years ; I have bred GAME FOWLS for over eight years, (for sportsmen mostly.) The superiority of the Sumatra over all other Game breeds, is the natural strength, compactness of body and feathers, and unusual intelligence, and natural willingness to be handled, and when trained, are perfectly at home in any place. They can be made Generals in a short time. The Java Games are too slow and lack courage, as I have seen a number start at the first puncture of the STEEL. Sportsmen have to come for Sumatra Pheasant Games on all important occasions." Game eggs are not only of extra weight, as Mr. Butters truly remarks, but they are decidedly richer than any other eggs. One Game egg is worth two common eggs of the same size, either for eating or culinary purposes so far do the Game eggs excel all others, both as to flavor and nutritious qualities. The specific gravity of an egg, as well a-s a fowl, determines its relative qualities. No better fowls, either for the " spit," or the "pit," than the Sumatra Pheasant Games, are to be found. A larger breed of Games is produced by crossing the Sumatra Pheasant Game cock, with the Wild Indian Game hen, or vice versa. They are called, and very appropriately, "The Game Cock of the Wilderness," and are of exquisite beauty and indomitable courage.With regard to the Java Games, I must beg leave to differ from my friend Butters. The PURE Java Games, are likewise "Pheasant" Games, having a head and tail like the Suroatras, and only differ in size and color. The Javas, as well as the Sumatras, are fast and stalwort fighters in fact, the Javas are only a VARIETY of the Sumatras the BREED is the same.

JOHN C. BENNETT. Fort des Moines, Polk Co., Iowa.

The following letter is from Geo. A. Smith, Esq., of Geo.,one of the most extensive fowl fanciers of the South :

Geo., April 19, 1852.

I hope you will not think me fickle when I tell you that I recant former opinion in regard to the fighting qualities of the Sumatra Pheasant Games. I saw my blue cock tried, and pass through the 'fiery ordeal' that happens to the lot of few cocks to pass through.He fought a cock that I will not say was the best in Georgia, but he was more than an average, and one that could make a good fight any time. He was two and a half years old, and in good righting order,and was a very fast fighter. The Sumatra got a bad cut on the hip before they had exchanged a half-dozen blows, which made him stagger,and he could not stand firm on his feet. The next cut was in the wing, that did not injure him much. The next was in the neck, but not very deep. The next in the body. All this time his antagonist had not received a scratch, and was thumping him away on all sides,and at every pass doing the Sumatra some damage, which now showed signs of being worsted, and when pitted, would make an attempt to get to the other cock, and fall. The Georgia cock would then go and stand upon him sometimes on his neck, for five minutes at a time. The Sumatra would get from tinder him, exchange a few blows, then fall again. At this crisis the Sumatra got a cut at the lower edge of the right eye, and ranging towards the neck. It was with a & ****, and went more than half the length in, and being so fast that the point bent in pulling it out. I thought it was all over with him, but he then appeared to fight better, and with more determination than before. He now received a cut in his left wing, entering the first ioint, and ranging up towards the butt, cutting the large artery, I presume, fro-m the quantity of blood that flowed. The next cut was in the back part of the head, ranging down. He received several other cuts in the neck, but not very deep. He was now blind in the right eye, lame in one hip, and the blood dripping from him. His left eye was half closed, and he could scarcely see his opponent, but was eager to get at him. The Georgia cock now began to tire, but kept fighting. The Sumatra finally got to him, and gave him a desperate blow, cutting him in the breast The **** did not hang, and he was knocked three feet. He was brought to the pit again, and the Sumatra cut, him through the right eye and into the head, which closed the battle. The cock died in a short time. The Sumatra was completely cut up, and I never before saw a cock stand one-half the cutting and fatigue that he did. It appears that the Sumatra Pheasant hens are as pugnacious as the cocks. Mr. J. A. C. Butters, the original importer of this breed, in speaking of one of them sold to Dr. Bennett,says : " I would fight her with gaffs against any hen in the world of her own weight. She never, to my knowledge, was whipped but once, and then by her mother. On one occasion, she fought her way through a flock of thirty Cochins and Shanghais, whipping both cocks and hens,"

  • The following extracts from the most distinguished fowl fanciers in this country, will give further proofs of the estimation in which they are held

PROVIDENCE, Oct. 8th, 1852.

Friend Bennett, The Sumatra Games came safe to hand, and I am compelled to say, that I never saw such beautiful and ornamental Game fowls, and I think I hafte seen nearly all varieties. That splendid, rich, dark, green bronze color, I never saw on any fowl before.No amateur ought to be without those truly splendid and ornamental birds. For my taste, they cast all other Games, for beauty of plumage, far in the shade. If you can spare me another pullet I shall be pleased.

Yours truly, JOHX GILES.

These, I think, are among the best of all the Games, for fighting purposes. They have strength, activity, fleetness, perseverance, and endurance ; are also desperate, as no cutting from a **** will make them flinch. They are kind to human species, but the death to all fowl kind. Cocks, hens and chicks, all fight. I think them the handsomest of all the fowl kind. They have a wild look, brilliant plumage, and the neatest build imaginable. The hens are blue, with bills and legs the same color as the cocks. Are an excellent fowl for the table, their flesh being delicately white. Their laying qualities are good, and their sitting and nursing, faultless. Their egg?, though Binall, are a$ heavy as those of the larger kinds of hens. The shell is mahogany color. They are restless, and cannot be confined, and can out-scratch any fowl I ever saw. They came from Angler Point, Sumatra the imported ones being from wild ones, caught in the woods. I think they will not degenerate by in-and-in breeding. In weight, they vary from four and a half to six pounds, and are so compactly built, as to deceive any one not acquainted with their make.


The peculiarities of Sumatra Game fowls, are as follows: They have no wattles, and scarcely any comb, and require little or no trimming,to fit them for the pit. The cock in my yard, which is now six months old, stands and carries himself loftier than most chickens at eighteen months old, all the time watching, as if alarmed. His general appearance is wild. The hen, (an imported one,) is a perfect beauty. All who have seen the Sumatra Games, consider them the handsomest and most desirable ones they have ever seen. As to their laying qualities, I would say the very day I received the hen, July 3d, she began to lay, and continued, until she had laid twenty eggs, without missing a day ; I then allowed her to sit. She raised me eleven chickens, and proved herself a good sitter and nurse. As fighters, they stand unrivaled, allowing themselves, (as I am credibly informed,) to be cut in pieces, without yielding. They are also fast fighters.

ALBERTUS WmcH. , Penn.

I received a pair of Sumatra Pheasant Game fowls, from Dr. Bennett, both young and promising, which, for symmetry of form and brilliancy of plumage, cannot be surpassed. The color of a dark, glossy green ; the feathers on the neck of the pullet, of a bronze hue; their eyes, remarkably brilliant and piercing ; necks, long and serpentine ; comb, serrated, and scarcely any wattles ; legs and bills, black ;body, firm and compact. The carriage of mine is noble and majestic.I have found them to be very small eaters, and much attached to each other, but on the introduction of a strange cock into their yard, they will attack and fight fowls thrice their size, and weight. I do not allow mine to fight, however, as they are too young. I am much pleased with them, and would not part with them for any consideration.

JOHN K A, KOBE. , Penn.

The principal breeders of the Sumatra Pheasant Game fowls in this country, at present, are J. C. Bennett, Fort des Moines, Iowa, Richard Blaisdell, Esq., Great Falls, N. H., and myself.


This is a breed much resembling the Sumatra Pheasant Games, yet having distinct characteristics, and known simply as the " Sumatra Games," without the term " Pheasant." They are not considered equal in the qualities that constitute a good Game fowl, to the Sumatra Pheasant Games. The following description of them, by Mr. S. B. Morse, Jr., is taken from the " New England Farmer :"" The progenitors of this race of fowls were, several years since,brought from the Island of Sumatra. The utmost care has been used to prevent the possibility of a cross in this stock.This breed of Game fowls is, in my opinion, equal, if not superior to any other in the IS Tew England States. The hens are good sitters and nurses, and, for the size of the fowls, produce large eggs. The cocks have a brilliant plumage, and the hackles on the neck are very long and full-feathered, making a "perfect shawl." The body is round and plump ; the neck is long and powerful ; the breast, full ; the wings are long, and cover the thighs ; the beak is hooked and stout ;the thighs are large and sinewy, and well set to the body ; the legs are dark-colored and long; and the claws are strong, and, with the legs, exhibit great muscular power. The belly is compact, so as not to interfere with the agility of the fowls, which they possess to a remarkable degree. The tail is very long, and by its beauty adds much to the appearance of these birds. The chickens are easily reared, and bear the climate of New England as well as those produced by any other stock. The flesh of the Game fowl is considered by all persons who have eaten it, as equal, if not superior, to that of other breeds, and, for the size of the fowl, there is less offal than in any other.For the incubation of eggs of rare and valuable breeds of fowls,Game hens are to be preferred to all others. Amateurs and fanciers will find it much to their advantage to employ Game hens as incubators of the eggs of the different breeds of Bantam fowls, as they are not so heavy or so clumsy as to break the eggs, and, at the same time,are most careful mothers, rarely or never injuring their chicks by their impetuosity, as hens of other breeds sometimes do. Game hens will most fearlessly attack cats and dogs in defiance of their chicks ; and I have known instances where full-grown rats have been killed by them.Many persons are deterred from keeping Game fowls by the reputation the cocks have acquired, unjustly, I think, of being quarrelsome.The true bred Game cock is not, my experience teaches me, quarrelsome or vindictive. He resents the interference of any cock with his vested rights and privileges, and requires an instantaneous apology for an insult, and, if his antagonist demurs, a battle is commenced without the least delay. If the opposing cock retreats, the true Game does not follow, but with a loud, exulting, and derisive crow, expresses his triumph ; but when Game meets Game, death to one or both is inevitable, as true Game " never retreats." This often occurs at the first flirt. I have known an instance where both cocks were instantly killed by a " brain stroke." For the rearing of chickens, a constant and regular supply of small grains is required. The best kind is wheat, being preferable to barley or buckwheat. Indian corn, of course, is not to be used, on account of its great size. I do not approve of giving to chicks any moist food,particularly Indian meal, as it will ferment in a short time, and become sour. Chicks should not be compelled to fast. Their crops are small,and the power of digestion is so great, that, if the food is not constantly within their reach, they are soon exhausted by the growth of feathers and bone, lose their strength, and death is the result. I have used the "screenings" of wheat for feeding chicks, and find them quite as good as wheat, although costing much less


The Sumatra Ebon Game fowls are very nearly allied to the Pheasant Games, I presume, from the description given ;and what the particular difference is, I leave for Dr. Bennett to explain. These celebrated Games being in possession of Dr. Bennett only, in this country, we must, of course, look entirely to him for their history, not being described in any of the works on poultry, either in the United States or in Europe. Cavillers may say, that the descriptions often given of particular breeds of fowls, are mere advertisements of them got up to sell them.Very well, suppose that they are. How are we to get descriptions of fowls unless we get them from those, who have bred them ? Every work on poultry hitherto published, is filled with descriptions by interested parties, in a great degree; -yet it should be the duty of authors to state their own views and opinions, when they are in contradiction to the opinions and descriptions furnished for their works, and I shall do so. The most authentic information an author can produce, is the opinions of various parties not exclusively his own, however well informed or experienced he may be. It is presumed that gentlemen of reputation and honor will adhere to the truth, giving the bright side, of course, being interested, and the public must be the jury to give a verdict after hearing the testimony. As to my friend, Dr. Bennett, he is an enthusiastic admirer of the feathered tribes. Breeding them is his element, and he is just the man to detect their faults, and to discover their good qualities. He may use superlatives, on some occasions, rather freely, but not for the purpose of gain, for the Doctor does not breed fowls for profit for filthy lucre ; it is a passion with him ; and when be has a fine breed, he oftener presents them to his friends than sells them to his customers, and if the truth were known, we believe he has given away more .valuable fowls within the last five years, than all other fanciers in the United States together.

Hear what he says of these Games :

The portrait at the head of this article, was delineated and engraved by J. C. Thompson, Jr., of Providence, B. I., and is an accurate likeness.These fowls were imported direct from the Island of Sumatra, and are materially different from any other variety of Game fowl ever introduced into this country.

The Sumatra Ebon Games answer to the following description :

Head, very broad, with a powerful beak ; eyes, small, fiery, and snaky, with a red iris, and jet black pupil; comb, very large, single, deeply serrated, and erect, extending much farther back on the head than that of the Pheasant Games, and much resembling that of the Black Spanish ; wattles, large and pendulous ; hackles of the loins and neck, very long, and exceedingly brittle *tail, very long and flowing,with abundant plume and sickle feathers sweeping the ground, and in this respect more closely resembling the Bird of Paradise than any other of the gallinaceous race ; body, compact, and unusually symmetrical; color, black, or a greenish black, of a metal luster ; legs,sinewy, with a powerful thigh, like the Pheasant Games, and frequentlya pea comb, like other well bred Games. In further describing these rare birds, I will introduce some extracts from letters, and other notices.

Dr. Eben. Wight writes me as follows :

"BOSTON, Mass., April 30, 1852.

"Dear Doc., I have been down to the ship Propontis, Lewis Wharf, and have seen the Sumatra Ebon Game fowls. Captain Barstow,brother to the one who wrote you, says he took about fifty cocks on board at starting, and always kept the one that beat, till all are dead except this fellow ; he finished, or nearly finished, all of them, when they were handed over to the cook. He was regularly gaffed for battle. The cock and hen are both quite young. Plumage of the cock, dark-red hackles, and a few dark-red feathers over the back ; body, black, or greenish black ; tail feathers, very long and greea ; legs, dark. The hen is black, and of good plumage, with dark legs. " In haste, truly yours, E. WIGHT."

Mr. Barstow, brother of the Captain, says : BOSTON, May 1st, 1852.

" Dr. Bennett, Dr. Eben Wight will give you a description of the Games, which he can do better than myself."They were imported in the ship Propontis, Captain Barstow,which arrived last week, and were bought at the west coast of Sumatra,by the Captain." There cannot be any doubt as to the breed of the fowls, as they were hatched on the coast, bought there by the present owner, and brought from there in the ship Propontis, from which they were taken this morning, by Wentworth's Express, for " you. Yours, <fec., GEO. T. BARSTOW."

Mr. Balch writes as follows : "DEDHAM, Mass., July 6,1852."

J. C. BENNETT, M. D. Dear Sir : My present engagements are such that it is impossible for me to give you a detailed account of the Game fowls you purchased of Captain Barstow. I saw them on board the ship Propontis, and offered a large price for them, but was informed that they were under refusal for you ; he, therefore, could not part with them till he should hear from you."From the history my friend, Captain Barstow, gave me of thebirds, I am inclined to think they are the best Games imported for ma"nIyraatdhaeyr. rejoice that you were the successful purchaser, for they will now be fully distributed. Had I been so fortunate as to have secured them, I should have presented them to a friend at the South, where I am sure they would have out-shone any they have." Yours, truly, B. W. BALCII.

The Great Falls Journal, of May 6th, in speaking of the Sumatra Ebon Game fowl, observes :

" We have this week been shown a pair of these fowls, which were brought direct from the Island of Sumatra, India, in the ship Propontis,Captain Barstow, and were purchased by Dr. J. C. Bennett, at a great price. The plumage of these fowls is elegant, that of the cock being a greenish black, with long, green tail feathers, and a few dark red feathers over the back. The tail feathers of this bird now drag upon the ground when he stands erect, notwithstanding he has undergone the hardships of a seven months' voyage, which is every way calculated to strip him of his plumage. He, according to the testimony of the Captain, actually fought and killed fifty cocks while on his passage from Sumatra to Boston. He was regularly gaffed for the battle, and always cut down his antagonist, though many a victory was hardly contested at the point of the steel. The hen is of good plumage, and has laid from the time of her embarkation at Sumatra,up to the present, with short intervals. These birds are said, by excellent judges, to be the 'FASTEST' Game fowls now known, and evidently STAND AT THE HEAD OF THE GAME RACE as to beauty, strength,power of endurance, prowess, and speed. They never prove craven,or cower at the steel cut of the enemy."

The editor of the New England Cultivator, in an article in that paper, says:

"We had an opportunity, a few days since, to examine the fine Game birds of Dr. J. C. Bennett, of Great Falls, N. H., and we were highly pleased with his stock, which is the choicest, probably, in its way, now to be found in the Northern States. " Dr. B. is an enthusiastic fancier, and has bred his fowls, experimentally and scientifically, for several years. He has appended some names to his birds, for the purpose of distinguishing one importation from another, which we do not fancy altogether ; but that he has some superb specimens of Game fowls, there is no question. " His Sumatra Games comprising the 'Pheasant' Game, and the ' Ebon ' Game are among the most graceful and beautiful of all the domestic fowls we ever yet saw, and we do not doubt that they are all that they are represented. He claims that they are ' fast 'fighters,and of sure endurance and bottom. "Two old breeders (imported,) that he showed us, were p-- ' "n~ fine and promise to be a superb variety of dark, rich plumage -, / carriage, large armed, and exceedingly erect and spirited. " Dr. B. has bred the Games very extensively during the last and present season, and our Southern friends who desire such birds for pit or spit,' can obtain choice ones on application as above."If my friend will inform me how to distinguish one breed from another, (not one importation from another,) without "names" I will be under many obligations. I do not wish to multiply " names" but when new breeds are imported, they must be NAMED, or they cannot be identified with sufficient precision. The opinion of such men as Dr. Wight and Mr. Balch, is always entitled to respectful consideration, for though they may occasionally err in judgment, like other men, yet it is admitted on all hands they are able, competent, and most excellent judges The Ebon Games are called by the natives of Sumatra, "Malay-Games," the best samples of which are found at Palembang, Padang,and Bencoolen ; likewise, at Samarang and Bally, in Java; and Singapore, in Malacca.The cross between the Sumatra Ebon Games, and the Sumatra Pheasant Games, is beautiful in the extreme; and either of the Sumatra breeds the Pheasant or the Ebon cross admirably with the English, Irish, or Chinese Games, adding greatly to the beauty and strength of the three latter breeds, and to the SIZE of the two former.As the " SIAMESE PENCILED GAMES " are perfectly represented by the above engraving of the Sumatra Ebon Games, and differ from them only in color of plumage and size of body and comb, it is deemed more appropriate to describe them here. The Siamese Penciled Games are most beautifully penciled in every feather, as if with the most exquisite touch of a master painter. The coloring is equal to the " Pintado " or Guinea fowl, each feather vying with the others in the surpassing beauty of its tints ; and this breed of Games might with great propriety be called the "gallinaceous Pintado," for it is really such.The Siamese Penciled Game cock is from a pound to a pound and a half heavier than the Sumatra Ebon Game cock, and has a much smaller comb ; in all other respects, excepting color, they exactly resemble each other.These fowls are obtained at Concoa and Convot, on the Gulf of Siam, and are highly valued for their beauty and intrinsic worth.I should not consider my Game stock complete without this valuable and unique breed. As yet, there are but few in the country.


1950s Standard

From the Britsh Poultry Standards early 1950`s



Egg Colour-White


Face-very dark red or "Gypsy Faced"

Body-Game in character, with long broad back especially at the shoulder,narrowing slightly towards tail which is long and drooping.

Legs-dark olive or black, with two or more spurs peculiar to this breed.


Colour-rich glossy beetle-green or green-black with as much sheen as possible.

Male-6 lb

Female-5 lb

  • There is also a bantam Sumatra mentioned as maintained in Northern Europe but dead or moribund in UK..Same colour as large.

Current British SUMATRA Standard


Origin: Asia

Classification: Light/Rare

Egg colour: White

The Sumatra, which comes from the island of Sumatra or the Malay Archipelago, was admitted to the American standard in 1883. With the help of Lewis Wright and Frederick R. Eaton the British standard was drawn up in 1906 under the name of Black Sumatra. A long, flowing tail, carried horizontally, and a pheasant-like carriage are distinguishing characteristics. Sumatras are prolific layers of white eggs and excellent sitters, especially being used to hatch waterfowl. In the late 1970s a strain of bantams was recreated.

General characteristics: male

Carriage: Straight and upright in front, pheasant-like, giving a proud and stately appearance.

Type: Body rather long, very firm and muscular, broad, full and rounded breast. Back of medium length, broad at shoulders, very slightly tapering to tail. Saddle hackle very long and flowing. Stern narrower than shoulders, but firm and compact. Strong, long and large wings, carried with fronts lightly raised, the feathers folded very closely together, not carried drooping or over the back. Long drooping tail with a large quantity of sickles and coverts, which should rise slightly above the stern and then fall streaming behind, nearly to the ground. Sickle and covert feathers not too broad.

Head: Skull small, fine, and somewhat rounded. Beak strong, of medium length, slightly curved. Eyes large and very bright, with a quick and fearless expression. Comb pea, low in front, fitting closely, the smaller the better. Face smooth and of fine texture. Ear-lobes as small as possible and fitting very closely.

Neck: Rather long, and covered with very long and flowing hackle. Legs and feet: Of strictly medium length, thick and strong. Thighs muscular, set well apart. Shanks straight and strong, set well apart, with smooth, even scales not flat or thin. (Note: There is no objection to two or more spurs on each leg, it being a peculiarity of the breed for this to occur.) Feet broad and flat. Toes four, long, straight, spread well apart, with strong nails, the back toe standing well backward and flat on the ground.

Plumage: Very full and flowing, but not too soft or fluffy.


Main tail feathers are wide and well spread, the top two feathers curved in a convex manner and carried nearly horizontally. Coverts are moderately long, wide and abundant. Otherwise the general characteristics are similar to those of the male, allowing for the natural sexual differences.



Male and female plumage: Very rich beetle-green (green-black) with as much sheen as possible.


Male plumage: Hackles, saddle, wing bow, back and tail very dark slate-blue. Remainder medium slate-blue, each feather to show lacing of darker shade as on the back.

Female plumage: Medium slate-blue, laced with darker shade throughout, except head and neck a dark slate-blue.


Male and female plumage: Pure white, free from any yellowness

Beak black. Eyes very dark brown or black (black preferred). Face, comb, ear-lobes and throat black or gypsy faced (black preferred). Legs and feet dark olive or black (black preferred).


Male 2.25 – 2.70kg (5 -6 lbs)

Female 1.80kg (4-5 lbs)

Scale of points

Type 20

Head (beak5, eyes5, other points10) 20

Colour 15

Feather, quantity of 15

Condition 15

Legs and feet 10

Neck 5

Serious defects: Single or rose comb. Any sign of dubbing. Red colour in comb, face or throat. Any sign of wattles. Other than four toes. Any deformity.


Sumatra bantams should follow exactly the large fowl standard.


Male 735g (26oz)

Female 625g (22oz)

[On the Continent, the white Sumatra Bantam is sometimes known as Sunda Game]


  • "The Field" magazine (UK), data from an article written by Capt.E.Duckworth (1906)
  • Ultimate Fowl Forum
  • Julia Keeling
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