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The Jan Aarden Story...
Author: Liam O ComainTitle: The Jan Aarden Story
Date: 2005-01-06 15:15:57Uploaded by: webmaster
Jan AardenWhen one gets involved in discussing the sport of pigeon racing the name of Jan Aarden is sure to appear especially in relation to the long distance because the strain of racing pigeons created by this master has been immortalised by some due to the impact it has made throughout the world. But who was this Dutchman credited with being the creator of a great marathon strain? A man whose bloodlines run through many of the winners and others to the fore in the Barcelona International and indeed many national and international winners throughout the world of modern pigeon racing.

Jan Aarden was born in the city of Oosterhout on the Sixth of November 1893 to Martinus Aarden and Lucia Schoenmakers. There he attended school at the Abbey of St.Paulus. From his earliest days Jan had a great love for animals and birds and in particular racing pigeons. The love of the latter was kindled by a Fr. Paulus who kept some racing pigeons in the Abbey grounds and needless to relate the young Aarden in due course became the “boy manager” of the good Father’s stock.

There his passion for the thoroughbreds of the sky intensified and by the time he was 18 he was a member of a racing pigeon club in Oosterhout; where in a short period of time he owned a loft of good short and middle distant birds.

An early influence upon Aarden was the family of Oomens from Breda who were the long distant stars of the Netherlands prior to World War 2. Aarden developed a close friendship with the father of the family and in due course owned some of their birds.

The famous “37” of Jan Aarden’s was a grandson of “Zilvervosje” which had Oomens bloodlines on both sides of the pedigree. This light check’ hen with a reflection of silver in her wings was a wonderful breeder as well as a racer.

Zilvervosje (the silver fox).
Zilvervosje (the silver fox).

Her bloodlines are there in the families of the great Aarden fanciers like Muller, van Agtmaal, van den Burgh, van der Wegen, van den Eijnden and the Kuypers, as well as being the grandfather of Ko Nipius’s second national Barcelona.

In fact her contribution to the development of the marathon pigeon in Europe is immense. Especially in the light of the truth that there is very little known about the hen’s origins. But thanks to Steve Patrick of Parick Bros., I can state that the Zilvervosje is a daughter of Slaper H. 46- 270518 + the Goris Duivin of Alfred Goris (Kruisland).

This fabulous hen when mated with Zesentachtig H. 47- 433486 bred ‘Late Meesters’ H. 49- 525758:a pearl of a pigeon. (The famous ‘131’ was a great granddaughter of Late Meesters). The latter appearing in the pedigrees of many of the best modern representatives of the dynasty.

The partnership of Eijerkamp- Muller confirms that the Zilvervosje was the foundation bird of their family. The sire of van Wanroy’s the ‘Spin’ is a grandson and the dam is a granddaughter of Zilvervosje. And of course the ‘Spin’ was the foundation bird in the families of Kuypers Brothers and Peter van den Eijnden.

And as stated Aarden’s ‘37’ was a grandson of the hen. And in turn ‘37’ was the grandfather of Giel van Agtmaal’s ‘500’. Also ‘37’ was the grandfather of Jan de Weert’s ‘131’. Surely two of the best of the Aarden dynasty.

Further research showed that Zilvervosje was the grandfather of the ‘Oude Witpen’- a famous breeder of Toon Stoffelen. And that the ‘Bontje Aarden’, dam of Ligtenberg’s ‘10’ was a granddaughter of Zilvervosje. Bearing in mind that the ‘Bontje Aarden ‘ was the mother of Janus van der Wegen’s ‘Oude doffertje’.

The list appears to be endless re the breeding influence of Zilvervosje but as stated she was also a very good racer. Some of her triumphs included the following:
3rd nat. Dax (1949)
2nd nat. Dax (1950)
55th nat.St. Vincent (1950)
7th nat. Dax (1951)
47th nat.St.Vincent (1951)

However let us return to the main aspect of this article...

After Jan’s marriage to Janntje Akermans on the twentieth of July 1916, the Aarden’s moved to and lived in the village of Teteringen for almost four years.There Aarden built a loft and moved his pigeons there but because of family commitments and the First World War there was a lack of success.

In 1921 the family moved again- this time to Steenbergen, followed by another move to Grintweg in 1924.This was not to be the last removal for eventually the family settled in Steenbergen where Jan and his wife managed a hotel where even today many fanciers from throughout the world visits.

The early nineteen twenties saw another important influence bearing upon Jan in the person of his son Anton who was also interested in the sport and who at the age of 18 joined with his father in a combination. Anton’s influence led his father from the shorter to the longer races and although the results were not outstanding by luck and friendships Aarden through his skills and patience built a wonderful strain.

One of those friendships was Piet de Weerd, the world famous pigeonologist, whose knowledge and advice Jan pondered. Another fruit of their friendship was the so called “ Piet de Weerd pigeon”: perhaps Aardens main breeding hen, of Delbar / Deguffroy origin. In fact the Delbar’s played a prominent part in the Aarden’s origins for some of the early breeders carried the blood of this strain.

During research for this article I encountered material suggesting Aarden was the builder but de Weerd was the architect of the strain. Whatever the merits of the suggestion there is no doubt that Jan Aarden was a master of stockmanship. Visiting good lofts and obtaining the best upon which to build. Like all great creators however he knew that genius can involve the experience of others.

By the end of 1930 in the breeders of Jan Aarden was the blood of “Ost-Roe” alongside stock from Henrey Rey and a super hen from Leo De Cock. The “Ost- Roe” bloodlines belonged to Jules Roeckaert- the former title he used for sometime.

Here I relate to the colour of reds in the Aardens which raises some eyebrows to the extent that there is disbelief that red is a colour truly representative of the strain. Research however confirms that reds were at the basis of the strain through the stock of Rey and Roeckaert. The most prominent of the former’s loft was “Ouden Vassart”- a red which Rey purchased at the auction of Pauwels from the Sas of Gent.From Roeckaert Aarden bought for stock a light checker “Belske”, whose father was “Leon” a red cock from Leon Van der Saude.

Perhaps this may lie to rest the suspicion surrounding the Aardens of red or mealy plumage.

With his natural talent and genealogical knowledge coupled with an emphasis on inbreeding Aarden used the stock obtained from Roeckaert, Rey,and others to build and experiment.

Initially, he paired the “Blaue Ost-Roe” to the “Oude Rey duivin “ which showed the spark of genius for he had immediate success with this pairing. Their famous product was the great “Fietsvlieger” who as well as a winner on the road bred some outstanding birds. Mated to “Dikke Blauw” his outstanding nestmate he bred the “Schone Blauw” - a pigeon who excelled at winning first prizes at racing.

When pairing the “Reydoffer” with “Belske” Aarden produced another great pigeon in “46”- who won many races. A full sister of the “46” namely “Orleanske” won from Orleans three years in a row.

From the pairing of “Vetkonk” from De Cock with the “Fietsvlieger” Aarden bred “ Verkeeroe Duivin” - one of the best racing hens in his loft if not in Holland. The “Dikke Blauw” was also mated to Roeckaert’s “Duveltje” and produced the “Mooike” - another good representative of the strain.

The above where in the main Aarden’s basic couples and indeed “Mooike”, “Dikke Blauw”, “Schone Blauw”, and the “Verkeerde Duivin” won prizes from a very tough race from St.Vincent.

From this and other results Jan Aarden realised that he owned pigeons of excellent quality.

The success of the developing Aarden strain caught the attentions of Jan’s fellow fanciers in Steenbergen and many were purchased resulting in the area becoming the hot bed of long distance racing in Holland. This also contributed to the evolution of the strain.

A few of the latter around the period after the Second World War until 1960 included Toon and Piet Ligtenberg whose famous hen “Oude Witpen” when coupled with another Aarden were the parents of two of the most famous representatives of the strain. The famous number ‘10’ of Ligtenberg and the fabulous ‘Oud Doffertje’ of van der Wegen. The latter being the foundation of the van der Wegen strain while number ‘10’ became the father of the famous ‘Dolle’ of Marijn van Geel- the origin of the van Geels.

Alongside other Steenbergen fanciers who set the sport alight with Aarden stock were Toon Toffelen, Jan van der Par, Jan de Weert, and van Agtmaal. The latter being credited in some quarters with being a better racer of the Aarden’s than the great master, himself.

Another important input to the Aarden’s was the great Jan Cools. A good friend of Aarden’s, Cools owned some good pigeons of the strain and they shared breeders with each other. Resulting in the production of top class performers.

As the strain developed it dominated the races from Dax, St.Vincent, Bergerac, and Barcelona, among others. Taking Europe by storm and extending beyond to become a truly world wide family. Piet de Weerd helped in this context by buying good representatives of the strain and selling them off to others.

Another important contributor to the success of the Aarden dynasty was Piet Lazeroms from Zegge (within the last four decades). This Aarden specialist bought out top lofts of Aardens and through this he owned the best of the strain.

In turn Lazeroms was used as the main source of the Aardens by the best fanciers in Europe and elsewhere. For example, Van Peperstraten and de Heyde. The latter built his loft on his famous “Klapper” which he had got from Lazeroms. There are also the exploits of Van Zelderen who won five nationals with Aardens.

Recent examples are Theo Ernest whose Barcelona successes are based upon the Aardens. Also the Brugemann Brothers whose famous loft is foundered upon another Aarden source - Hein and Hub Oostenrijk.

The exploits of Jac Stekatee of Bruinisse should not be overlooked for he formed one of the top Aarden studs of the nineteen ninetees. His Golden Breeder “788” is considered one of the best of the Aarden dynasty. As is the highly thought of “60” of another Aarden ace, Cees de Jong. Then there is the world known breeders and racers of Polder and de Vogel of today.

It would appear to be the case that the few mentioned adherents of the Aarden strain were fired by the master in their pursuit of excellence. I say a few for there are many, many more who could have been named who in their own way as breeders or racers contributed to the development of the strain.

In the countries of Britain and Ireland the Aarden’s are making their mark increasingly in National, Derby, and Classic races especially through the work of the Massarella Stud who acquired at extreme expense the best of the strains modern representatives. Although representatives of the strain had come to the top in previous decades.

There is also a body of astute fanciers who advocate patience with the strain and advise that it be crossed with the Delbars, Stichelbauts, and the Janssens. Whether the latter will be welcomed by the purists is questionable but patience appears to be required for it has been the experience of many that Aardens are late developers.

To conclude, what better memorial to Jan Aarden but to ensure that the strain he moulded will continue to overcome distances, mountains, seas, and other obstacles on the way to nest or perch. Thus all the Aardenists today will continue the work of the master from Oosterhout and Steenbergen.

Liam O Comain

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