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The year 2001 was the 50th anniversary of the official aknowledgement of “our” Gibber Italicus. It was february 1951 when, at the international show in Bruxelles, the “italian curled Bossù”, presented by Mrs Giamminola of Como, gained the aknowledgement of italian Race of Italian Ornithologic Association. That episode, anyway, was only the final step of a long-dated adventure which began in the first years of the last century; I will try to tell the reader the fervent passion of the pricipal actors of this path. In the Southern regions of France, Italy and Spain “curled” canaries which derived from the “Southern Dutch” were selected. Generally called “curled Bossù” they were different in size, with a more or less upright bearing and with more or less rich curlings. The italian type was different from the others for the characteristics clearly described in an article on the review “The Canary” n. 6-7 June-July of 1941 (Ufficial review of the Italian Association of Canaries); the following are the main points:

“In Italy a type of Bossù Arriciato is being selected, the most characteristic and beautiful. The italian breeders passionate and trained in this kind of selection which has conquered most of canary breeders, especially in northern and southern Italy, have been led by that fine artistic feeling which distinguished our people in the artistic field. Soon, we are sure of that, our breeders will be able to provide, without no difficulties, true exposition individuals. The characteristics under study are the small head, the narrow and long neck down-going and lightly high at the insertion with its head. Rising schoulders, covered with curlings which start from the middle and turn at its sides so to leave evident the necessary space between one shoulder and the other. The curled chest basket-shaped is not very big. The spurs coming out from its sides and going round the wing. The vertical tail, close to the perch The legs very stiff and long, the naked thighs getting out of the body. The plumage close to the body and bright. The Canary must stand still on the perch in an upright position, with its neck horizontally stretched, bearing for a few time the characteristic “seven” position; it must bear this position often and unrestlessly.”

So, starting from 1941, we can talk of a standard deriving from previous selection’s years by those pioneers who first breeded with success the ancestors of the actual Gibber. As a matter of fact in the years between 1920 and 1930 but, probably even before, some neapolitans breeders, like cav.Cerlino, lawyer Casilli and father Solimene started that project which got realized in 1951. Father Solimene, monk and rector of Santa Maria Caponapoli Church, lost his role of rector for having gone to Marseille to buy some subjects. They were among the first who, with a lot of economic sacrifices, got from Spain and the southern regions of France the best of “Curled Bossù”’s production, which, some time later, were required by a bigger and bigger number of italian breeders. We quote mayor Gargano of Rome, Mr. Scianchi of Parma, Mr Giovanni Sofia of Palermo and many others who spread in Italy the passion for those canaries.

At that time it was not very easy to import canaries from foreign countries, because of logistic and economic difficulties. It was much easier to get new exmplaries from historic breeders like Cerlino or Casilli; anyway they were not very willing to give some good quality exemplary. Giuseppe Vaccari, in a review called “ The Gibber italicus canary”, published in 1971 by Encia, writes:

I remember that Modena had a very strong feeling for Gibber. In particular, I remember an episode in 1937. I was told that a few smart exemplary of Bossù canaries were in Naples and I was asked to buy some of them. A friend, actual Gibber breeder, came along with me. In Naples we visited first Cerlino, who was considered to have the nearest to the standard subjects.. Cerlino, who had a shirts’shop in Via Roma, was very kind and brought us at the second floor where we found the canaries. We saw only 20 exemplaries, every one at the top of perfection. I think they were typical Bossù coming from Spain. Nowadays they would be too big , compared to Gibber. We examined this wonders: their position was so perfect it looked like magic. Stiff legs, a few feathers, (but at that time it was allowed) a bigger size than the actual Gibber, very long neck with a very small head. After a long discussion Cerlino gave us only one female, with which we visited some other breeders. Then we went to lawyer Casati, where we found six rooms full of Bossù; their quality was inferior to Cerlino, anyway we bought a couple and went back to Modena with these three canaries.We were welcomed back like winners even if we could not bring with us the real essence of what we had seen.”.

The story of Vaccari let us understand the passion for this race in those years and the emotion to see some subjects which are in his words “at the top of perfection”.

In those years, a simple trip from Modena to Naples was difficoult to organize, either for lack of means, either for its costs and the necessary hours. Fascist Italy, who was about to wage war, was promoting everything “Italian”, a new canary’s race included. Anyway, at that time, we had not a new italian race in Naples, first of all because the most important characteristics had not been genetically set, and secondly the neapolitans breeders had never set up an organisation, which was necessary to obtain an official aknowledgement.

Unfortunately Cerlino, Casilli and Gargano breeding were destroyed in Second World War, but this adventure could go on with the support of some other brilliant breeders. Until the Seventies, in Castellammare di Stabia (once again in Campania), among the Gibber breeders, doctor Giacomo Ciampa was the most well- known. Actually he was the only one to succeed in buying some subjects coming from Sodo, Cerlino, Casilli and Solimene breedings.

Among the nowadays old Gibber breeders, there is someone who could admire the subjects of those breedings. They are described as bigger than the standard size, but for long neck’s fans they were the best to look at. Just to look at, because, like for Cerlino, getting some subject was very hard. Della Rovere, Amato, Spanò, Torri di Messina, Bonacini Brillanti, Rossi and Rabitti of Modena, Martinelli and Grandi of Bologna, Tosetti of Asti, Fatti and Cannella of Novara, Jannace of Rome and last but not least Mrs Maria Giamminola of Como, kept on selecting the future Gibber in post-war years, until in november 1950, in the third International Show of Reggio Emilia, Mrs Giamminola showed some subjects outside the competition. In comparison with the Bossù we have just talked about, the subjects of Giamminola were already very different. With a patient and methodic work of selection, she succeded in getting a canary with a more little, gentler and thinner size, although keeping the main characteristics, like the bearing, the long and thin neck, the snake-shaped head and the typical curlings which were less stressed than in the past. Mrs Giamminola described her subjects: “it must keep a “seven” position and seen from behind, it must shows anything but the high shoulders; a few curlings on its shoulders, breast, sides, no curlings on its neck and its head. When I look at my loved ones, I enjoy their looks. They jump, light like butterflies, as if they were floating in the air. Then, when they are still in their characteristic position with the stiff legs, they look like wonderful flowers, bloomed out of the silky curlings of their smooth feathers. Nothing trivial in their bearing. Everything in them is kindness and elegance. From their cute head to their thin neck stretched out horizontally, their narrow tail, their stiff and thin legs with the naked thighs, the nervous and restless temper: everything shows the nobility of this race. It is for canaries what the nervous thoroughbread is for horses. It has the most strange and unexpected attitudes. Its figure has some characteristics bearings which no other canaries will ever get. This qualities make of it a never boring attraction and my favourite race. My new Bossù comes from long and methodic crossings and selections aimed to the achievement of an exemplary with established shapes and bearings.

In short, a thinner and more elegant canary that was quoted by Della Rovere, immediately after the official aknowledgedment, as “the greyhound of canaries” and for Gibber connoisseurs, that name suits a lot…

Let’s go back to Reggio Emilia.

Mrs’s Giamminola’s subjects were admired by every foreign member of the jury who quoted them as the new italian race. Leopoldo Codazzi, who wrote in the review “Uccelli da gabbia e da voliera” wrote in nr.1 of 1951: “I was tired to write about english races which never end, I was tired of those selections, impressive but not very pleasant to me. Tired of using my pen which sometimes did not want to write, tired of using my brain , which often did not want to think about foreign races. I was thinking how willingly I would write on italian races: …. .writing about the characteristics of those new races, …. to show everybody, writing in clear italian, the success of national breeding. The third international exposition of Reggio Emilia fulfilled my desire”.

The S.O.R. and the newborn Federazione Ornicoltori Italiani encouraged and supported Mrs Giamminola, granting her their presence at the international exposition in Belgio. Mrs Giamminola saw the chance of a real official aknowledgement and, at her expenses, she decided to show three canaries at the international show of Bruxelles in february 1951.On the three exposition cages MRS Giamminola put three tricolour ribbons which greeted with typical feminine grace the first italian race

Our breeding reached at last an outstanding success, as the specialized papers proudly stressed, and in particular the magazine “Uccelli da gabbia e da voliera” that immediately after the aknowledgement published many articles on the new canary.

The following step was necessarily to find a name which could give support to its italian root. Mrs Giamminola suggested “Larianello” in honour of Como (her city of birth); some other breeders suggested “Como” or “Lario” for the same reasons. Someone suggested “Cerlino” or “Napoli” in honour of the historic neapolitan breeders of the first italian curled Bossù. But it was also necessary to give honour to every other breeder who had given their support to the spreading of this race, giving at the same time Mrs Giamminola credit to have been the only one to strive for the official aknowledgement. Among the various names like “Gobbuto Italiano”, “Italicus” and “Septem Italicus”, “Gibber Italicus” was chosen, the most representative of the whole Nation.

The new Gibber gave birth to a new era and gave start to the end of the curled Bossù which were too different from the standard of the new race. Still nowadays we can find the best Gibber in southern Italy and in particoularin Campania, Puglia and Sicily, even if , in the last few years, some of Central and Northern Italy’s breedings showed very high quality subjects. By this article I want to give credit to “our” Gibber in the 50th anniversary of its official aknowledgement. Since I was not witness of those years, I apologize for any mistake or lack of quoting of breeders who gave support to the creation and spreading of this race. To the “Gibber” friends, the wish to keep on being the first, on a world base, in the selection of this italian jewel: may be one day they will be duly remebered, in the centenary’s event.

                                                                                           Francesco Rossini