No one has ever surpassed him in the art of pigeon breeding. During that period, on one was more consistent than the late Dr. Bricoux.
Has there ever been anyone more successful in the pigeon world? No one has ever had better pigeons than he had, and no one has ever had more unequalled successes! Some ten years after his sudden passing, fanciers were surprised that no books of his could be found, to remind us of his brilliant career in the pigeon sport. Without doubt, he was the greatest master in the period between 1919 and 1939.
Arthur Bricoux was interested in pigeons during his university studies, while attending medical school, and fifty years later, he would have said that his passion for pigeons had never diminished, it was after World War 1 that his name came to the forefront, and we can truthfully say that for twenty-five years he successfully defended his reputation of being truly unconquerable. Between the wars, he won an incredible number of prizes in the National and the long-distance events. In ten years, during the period from 1930 through 1939, he won, without duplicating, 14 First Prizes, 12 Seconds, and 124 in the first 20. His successes were so numerous and so outstanding that many fanciers thought that he was doping his birds.
He became famous from the first moment that he had in his possession (as the basis of his colony) the Beeckmans and the Celliers. The latter, the Celliers, were Lorette’s. Later he added, as foundation birds, the Baclenes from Walcourt and the Rousseaus from Jemeppe. He also exchanged some young birds with the great French Champion, Paul Sion of Tourcoing, and the crossings which resulted gave him the most magnificent results. Although Dr. Bricoux inbred his pigeons, he confessed that sometimes he used an out-cross. Direct and successive inbreeding leads to a decline. He who does not resort to a cross at some time or other, will see his own strain go to decay, according to Dr. Bricoux. But it is important to use for an outcross, pigeons which come from a loft where inbreeding is practiced. One should test the birds first, before one starts to breed from them.
Dr. Bricoux was always opposed to the racing of young birds; he always started to race his birds when they were a year old. When they were two years old, he flew them on widowhood. He was one of the first to fly widowhood on a large scale, and this helped him to acquire his tremendous wins during that period. His two-year-olds flew up to 600 kilometers, and as threeyear-olds, they flew successfully in the very longest and hardest races.
Dr. Bricoux made use of the most simple feeding methods. During the racing season, he used beans, peas, tares and wheat; moreover, he used maize, rice with a little hemp and rapeseed. During thç moulting season, he used beans, wheat, maize, tares, with a little rapeseed and linseed. In the winter, he used plenty of barley, oats and a little linseed. He firmly believed that barley was an excellent food for pigeons. He always fed all his grains separately, and one at a time. He had no tricks, and all the talk behind his back, concerning the doping of his pigeons, left him cold. In spite of his competence, Doctor Bricoux never hesitated to admit that the basket was the best judge of a pigeon’s ability. In such a case, beauty has nothing to do with the true value of a bird.
Whenever anyone asked him:
“ What are the most important qualities to look for in a pigeon?” his answer always was: “I do not allow any weakness in the firmness and strength of the vents. My preference is always for a strong, muscular pigeon, and I do insist on soft and fluffy plumage. I am also of the opinion that a good long distance pigeon should have well-developed secondary feathers in the wing.” On this subject, he also added: “A pigeon with a short inside wing will not even qualify for the medium distance.” He also believed in one’s specializing in the sport. His own preference was for the long-distance races, and he was only interested in the shorter events as “training tosses” for the longer races.
We have submitted above, a very brief reproduction of the career of an unequalled pigeon fancier of truly immortal fame. A fancier who played a most important part in helping to make the Belgian racing pigeon, truly world-famous. May his remembrance be a lesson for those countless fanciers who believe that success can only come about as the result of deeply-hidden “Secrets.”
In the preceeding pages, we have given a short history of the life of that master pigeon-fancier, the immortal Doctor Arthur Bricoux, who from 1920 until the eve of World War 2, was the true celebrity of our Sport. His was a life truly dedicated to the improvement of the racing pigeon (a life of uninterrupted glory and success, and great victories. This was all achieved by one of the greatest fanciers of all time) Doctor Bricoux.
Continuation of this tale is somewhat sad. The year was 1940, and desperate, as many others, and overcome by panic, Doctor Bricoux left all of his possessions to the conqueror, to return a few weeks later to find that he had been struck by the greatest disaster that could befall a pigeon fancier. During his absence, the French army had killed all of his pigeons .. his wonderful birds on which he had worked his entire life, and which were truly his masterpiece. The shock was terrible, and may have been the cause of his early death. Many weeks passed, before Dr. Bricoux showed any signs of starting up once more, in his beloved hobby. At a time such as this, friends can be of tremendous help, and fortunately, Dr. Bricoux had made two such friends, whose lofts were practically a reproduction of his own fine collection. These two were Nestor Tremmery of Oudenburg, and Arthur Caramin of Chatelet. They came to help him re-start his loft, assuring him that he was welcome to take anything he wanted, out of their own lofts.
With such an offer (and the knowledge of a Bricoux) all fear of not being able to start a loft in record time, disappeared. The best stock pigeons of Caramin and Tremmery were blended in with the experience of Bricoux, and an entire round of youngsters were brought over from Oudenburg and Chatelet to Jolimont. The entire pigeon fancy at that time, was assured that this was to be the start of a new “Masterpiece.” Alas, it was to be for only a short period of time, the colony was hardly re-built when Dr. Bricoux died, in the prime of his life, but with the firm hope that his life’s work would be continued. Alas, again. His son had not inherited the same unequalled qualifications of the father; furthermore, his business took all his time, and he was forced to have a manager take care of his colony. From that time on, the races were secondary, but thanks to the advice he received from well-known fanciers that he called upon, the colony was able to continue without interruption, as his late father had left it to him. On the eve of the total sale of the Bricoux pigeons, it was a real pleasure for the pigeon journalist, Leon Petit, to give credit to Arthur Bricoux Jr. for the splendid way in which he had kept intact, his father’s heritage. Through this sensible decision, the opportunity to procure some of these world-famous pigeons was presented to those fanciers who were looking for some pure Bricoux birds.
The latest dissemination of the Bricoux
It is of great importance that we are given some details of this, because after the sale of the Bricoux pigeons, there was a great demand for the purebred Bricoux. Before we give details of the stock birds, we shall show you an advertisement which appeared in “The Belgian Pigeonsport” of the 11th of November, 1952, placed there by Leon Petit, to give well-deserved publicity to the sale of the Bricoux, Jr. stock.
Some details of the final Bricoux Sale
It is a well-known fact that one must have good pigeons at his disposal, before one can make a name for himself in the pigeon world. But, if these good pigeons are not managed by a skilful pigeon fancier, who has plenty of spare time to look after his birds... in other words, if they are sometimes left on their own... they surely will win prizes, because the class is there, but they will never be truly “Top Pigeons” or “Cracks.” On the other hand, when the same pigeons come into the hands of an experienced fancier, they will distinguish themselves, and continue the fame of the strain from which they have descended. That is why some pigeon scribes will write at times, that the fancier makes up 50%, while the bird itself makes up the other 50% of any success story. This is why the wealthy pigeon fancier with no knowledge, uses a loft manager, while the ones who know, will also make use of a manager who only does what he has been told to do. We will not dwell on this too long, when we say that this introduction is applicable to what we refer to here as “The Bricoux strain.” Doctor Bricoux, the Master, was probably the most competent pigeon fancier the world has ever known; there has been no other fancier who has reaped as much success in the same span of years, as did Doctor Bricoux. Not only was he competent, but he also had plenty of spare time, which allowed him to keep an eye on his colony at all times.
His successes were so extraordinary, and so amazing, that many fairytales were circulated, concerning pills and injections which he was suspected of having at his disposal and which he slyly kept to himself. You may have heard of the anecdote in which a fancier bought a pigeon from Dr. Bricoux, later complaining to the Doctor about his failure with the bird. It then seems that Dr. Bricoux kept the pigeon for a few days, then returned the bird to the fancier with the words: “You can bet your shirt on this bird next race day.”
There are many fanciers who are doubtful about this tale. In any case, we ourself do not believe it. If injections and pills had been at the basis of his successes, surely he would have left knowledge of them to his son! For the sake of simplifying matters, we must give you some facts. Among those who bought pigeons from the Bricoux lofts in the good old days, were fanciers who did so well with the birds that they were practically on a level with the Master himself; on the other hand, there were other fanciers who were not so skilful, who did well with the birds, but still remained on their own level. Some could do nothing with them, but they would have achieved the very same results with other birds. Among those who were fortunate enough to equal the success of the Master himself, we must mention the late Caramin of Chatelet and the late Nestor Tremmery of Oudenburg.
Even before these two fanciers possessed any Bricoux pigeons, they were in the true sense of the word, “Champions.” The former, Caramin, had his, “Mozaïken” or Mosaic, and his “Blauwe” or Blue, which flew, with remarkable ease, from Angouleme and Bordeaux. And yet, without any hesitation, he parted with them, after he had stocked his loft with Bricoux pigeons. The second, Nestor Tremmery, was also a renowned fancier with his “Madelon,” a Vandevelde-Gurnay, his “Molenaar” the “Miller,” which was a light-colored Baclene... and others, all first-class pigeons. Nestor Tremmery disposed of all of them, to keep only the Bricoux birds, with which he had such glorious success. As stated before, only these two fanciers, Caramin and Tremmery, helped Dr. Bricoux to re-build his loft after the disaster of 1940. We can tell you that the “Gryze Caramin” (The Grey Caramin) was a daughter of “De Kleine Geschelpte” (The Little Checker), and had a most unique record: 20 prizes in 21 races from Angouleme, Libourne, Bordeaux, Pau, and St.-Vincent. This “Kleine Geschelpte” came out of an egg which Dr. Bricoux had given to Caramin.
In the first place, we must tell you that the enrire colony was hidden, during the war, in the lofts at Jolimont, before we mention the ones of the notary, Herman, in Ceroux-Mousty. When we remember these two facts, then we shall realize that the actual “Bricoux” were still the strain cultivated by Dr. Bricoux and chosen by himself. But, Arthur Bricoux Jr. never achieved the same success as his father; the Bricoux of 1952 definitely did not have the same “class” as the ones before the war.
If we bear the above in mind, and consider this fact when we discover the reasons for the sale, we shall see that Arthur Bricoux Jr. left the sport simply because the pigeons, for the greater part, had been left to their own resources.