The Meulemans Story (part 1 of 2 )
'Why is the name of Meulemans so popular?' - 'Why are his birds so expensive?'
'I thought he was a seller and not a racer, what's the truth?'
'What is the origine of his birds?'
Questions such as these I have often been asked by pigeonfanciers from all over the world. Fortunately I have an answer to these questions as Meulemans lives in Arendonk, a little town equally famous as the other 'Worldname' who raced there: Janssen Bros. I do not think I am exaggerating when I say even the smallest pigeonfancier in the most isolated area of the world is acquainted with the word 'Arendonk'. And Arendonk is only a few minutes' drive for me. It stands to reason that I know Meulemans, his birds and his results pretty well. In short I can tell you that Meulemans owes his fame to 2 pigeons: 'The Basic Couple'. This pair is generally considered as the greatest pair of middle distance producers of all time! Writing about Meulemans is writing about his 'Stamkoppel' as it is called in the Dutch language. For that we have to go back in history.
The cock of 'The Basic Couple'
It was in 1961 that Karel Meulemans and his father Jan went to purchase pigeons from Jos van den Bosch who lived in the little town of Berlaar. What many people do not know is that Van den Bosch was the fancier that the legendary Huyskens van Riel and his friend Rene Stijnen bought a round of eggs from. The babies that hatched out became the foundation of the famous Huyskens van Riel strain. Huyskens van Riel was the terror of Belgian pigeonsport shortly after World War 11. In the beginning they destroyed the short distance races. When no one dared to race against them any more they went to race Middle Distance. But also at Middle Distance Huyskens and his partner van Riel, who lived only some kilometers from the town of Antwerpen were unbeatable. As again nobody dared to pool any money against their miracle birds they had no other choice than to enter them for the National long distance races.
Meulemans' basic pair it says, but that is wrong. They are typical Meuelemans birds though.
And again the same story:
Their results were breath-taking up to Barcelona (1,100 kilometers). As mentioned before Huyskens van Riel did this with the off-spring of the pigeons they got from Jos van den Bosch. Later we will see that in the birds of Janssen Bros, of all people(!) is the bloodline of Jos van den Bosch too! Two of the original 'Jos van den Boschpigeons' purchased by Meulemans were a son of the so called 'Vurige van 58' and a chocolate hen with white flecks. This hen was a full sister of Jos van den Bosch's 'Princess of 56'. 'Vurige' and 'Princess' were two of van den Bosch's best birds.
The Golden Pair, sometimes described as the best breeding pair in history
And now we come to an important point:
The (recessive red) chocolat hen (sister of 'Princess') which Meulemans bought from Van den Bosch became the dam of B-67-6729926, a dark pied cock later known in the whole pigeonworld as 'De Oude van den Bosch', the male of Meulemans' famous 'Basic Couple'. The feathering of the mother of 'De Oude van den Bosch' was kind of rusty brown and this colour keeps coming back in many Meulemanspigeons up till to-day. But it takes two to tango. A couple consists of a cock and a hen.
Let's talk about the hen of 'The Basic Couple'.
The hen of 'The Basic Couple'
The origine of the hen which is considered as 'the best breeding couple ever' is kind of mysterieus. One should know that in the sixties Karel Meulemans formed a partnership with Adriaan Wouters. As a racer Wouters had always been a Superman and the great competitor of Janssenbrothers. When Wouters and Meulemans became partners Wouters brought along a blue hen (B-66-6122023) to pair with the 'Oude van den Bosch'. This hen is called 'the Janssenhen' though Adriaan Wouters and Janssenbrothers were no good friends. So it stands to reason that Wouters never got direct pigeons from Janssen Bros. In fact the origine of this 'Janssenhen' is unknown. The only one who knows the answer is Mr Wouters himself but Mr Wouters is dead. He always talked about his 'Janssenhen' and no more than that. People often say 'beauty means nothing' and maybe that's true. But I myself handled her and can assure you: It was one of the most beautiful pigeons I have ever seen. There are some rumours about the origine of this 'Janssenhen' though. Wouters is said to have got her from a fancier in the town of Mol. He in turn got pigeons from a man in the Dutch town of Reusel who had Klakbirds And Klak had never other pigeons in his loft than… those from Janssensbrothers.
Janssenbrothers always have claimed that the only pigeon they succesfully imported in their loft was the so-called 'Halve Fabry' ('Half Fabry') B-60-1000863.
'Halve Fabry' is the grandgrandfather of worldfamous 'Oude Merckx' (B-67-6282031) and 'Oude Merckx' is father of '019' and of 'Jonge Merckx'. Janssenbrothers got 'Halve Fabry' from Mr Fabry who bred it off a Janssenbird (so it could also have been called 'Halve Janssen' and a hen of his own (B-59-1005026) which Fabry got from… Jos van den Bosch. It was a daughter of his 'Young Princess' (B-57-6327825) and 'Young Princess' was a daughter of Jos van den Bosch's 'Princess of 56'. 'Princess of 56' was a sister of the mother of 'Oude van den Bosch' of Karel Meulemans! Can you imagine that? The world famous Janssenpigeons are related to the world famous Meulemanspigeons. The connecting link is 'Princess' a pigeon of Jos van den Bosch who also supplied Huyskens van Riel with their 'Dream Team' shortly after WW 2.
-Janssen and Meulemans both live in the town of Arendonk.
-Janssen and Meulemans both had a miracle bird called 'Merckx'.
- Both these miracle birds descend of 'Princess' of Jos van den Bosch.
The bloodline of 'Princess' is not only in Janssen's Merckx, 019 etcetera.
'The Halve Fabry' which I mentioned before is father to that wonderbird 'Oude Witoger' (B-65-6371172) which won 15 first prizes and 'Oude Witoger' is father of 'Oude Raket' etcetera.
More background information
Like mentioned before Meulemans and Wouters became partners in the sixties. Meulemans was the breeder, Wouters the racer. Wouters died in 1975 and believe it or not, the same day the pigeon called 'Merckx' the best racer the partnership ever had, lay dead in the loft. This 'Merckx', of course a son of the 'Basic Couple', was born in 1969 and won no less than 21 firsts. In those days the son in law of Wouters, Frans Marien, had also joined the pigeonsport. When Wouters died there was a problem.
The racing pigeons belonged to him and his son in law) whereas the breeders were in the Meulemansloft. What was bound to happen happened: A new partnership was formed: Meulemans Marien. So things went on as in the past, only the name of the partnership was changed. Meanwhile the fame of the children of 'The Basic Couple' spread like wild fire. With descendants of this pair fanciers like Hermes and Ritz in Germany and Geerts and Verbruggen in Belgium got tremendous successes. Then something unexpectedly happened: Frans Marien, still young, committed suicide and Meulemans stood alone again.
After many disputes about the birds (whose were they?) a hard decision was taken: They would be auctioned. This was in 1980 and at the total auction Meulemans re-purchased his favourites 'Kadet', 'Prins', 'Schoon Donker' and 'Bonte'. He had to pay a tremendous amount of money for his own birds but he has never regretted it. Especially 'Kadet' would turn out to be a tremendous producer. When 'Kadet' was stolen (in January 1986) it left poor Karel Meulemans very demoralised but he continued succesfully with the offspring of 'Kadet'.
It was in the same auction in 1980 that Gommaire Verbruggen purchased 'Witneus' for a staggering amount of money after a battle for its possession with German millionaire Hermes. The offspring of 'Witneus' would make Verbruggen famous. Hermes already owned his brother ('Piet') which had produced wonderful racers as well. Of course 'Witneus' and 'Piet' were direct children of the basic couple. In the same auction Mr van Beerendonk bought a pigeon called '78.000'. A few years later he was to win National Bourges in Belgium against appr. 70.000 birds with a descendant!
I could go on mentioning the names of numourous fanciers who were succesful with descendants of the 'Basic Couple' but it would take pages!
We conclude this article with a reference list of children of 'The Basic Couple'. The interesting thing is that they are all kinds of colours. The reason for this is the special coulour of the mother of the 'Oude van den Bosch' as mentioned before.
'Merckx' B-69-6653841, pencil cock. Winner of 21 1st prizes and National Ace Pigeon of Belgium in 1974. 'Kadet' B-72-611169, pencil cock. Won as a yearling six 1st prizes and was stolen in 1986. In 1980 William Geerts got a blue hen off of 'Kadet'. Two descendants became Olympiadbirds! 'Witneus 73' B-73-6261175, pencil cock. Purchased by Verbruggen and a sensational breeder in the Verbruggenloft. 'Junior' B-70-6070880, blue pied cock. 'Piet' B-76-6371884, pencil pied cock. Purchased by German Raymund Hermes. 'Benjamin' B-79-6752570, checker cock. 'Blauwe Witpen' B-73-6261170, blue whiteflight cock. 'Prins' B-76-6220346, pencil cock. 'The 78.000' B-77-6793014, pencil whiteflight cock, purchased by W v Beerendonk. 'The 78.000' became grandfather of 1st National Bourges, entry about 70.000 birds. 'Donkere' B-80-6754674, dark cock. 'Schoon Donker' B-73-6261056, dark hen. 'Liebling' B-78-6250000, checker hen.
And more but these are not that important.
The name of Meulemans will be remembered as long as pigeonsport will exist. Just like the names of Janssen Bros and Huyskens van Riel. Nowadays Meulemans (who was a simple farmer) is retired and races in partnership with his son in law under the name of 'Meulemans Damen'. ' Meulemans was the breeder and his former partners (Wouters and Marien) were the racers' it was always said. There is some truth in it. Meulemans was not a very succesful racer in the past. It was the off-spring of his birds in other lofts that spread his fame. But as a pigeonman he is far from stupid. He realised that crossing different bloodlines is the road to success. So he imported other birds, crossed these with his own with the result that he became 1st National Champion of Belgium Long Distance 1999 in his section. Even his former partners, who were 'racers' did not achieve this.
Please do not think that this article is propaganda for Meulemansbirds. It is an homage to his 'Basic Couple' the best breeding couple in history. And the 'Basic Couple' itself is also history. Meulemans is a great name and he has good pigeons. But his recent winners are products of 'other blood' he imported. Like I mentioned before fanciers from the USA and 'The East' (Taiwan and Japan) like a family, birds which are related. The best breeding couple in history itself however ('Oude van den Bosch and 'Janssenhen') was a crossing. And most of the sensational winners and Acepigeons which descend from this couple are crossings too! In a previous article I said 'a great name' does not necessarily mean qualitybirds. Meulemans is an exception to the rule. He is a great name, he had qualitybirds in the past thanks to his 'Golden Couple'. The fact that he has become a good racer now is because he was so smart as to cross the descendants of his 'Wonder pair' with other blood.