A Jaundiced View of Ducks and How to Make Them Pay

The book Ducks, and How to Make Them Pay, by William Cook, published by E. Clarke and Sons, in 1890 and later in other editions, is about how to make ducks pay. Cook instructs his fellow humans on how to make money, one way or another, by utilizing ducks one way or another.

A Latter-day, Jaundiced View of Ducks and How to Make Them Pay

Cook’s book was not the last word on the subject. In 2008, long after Cook’s demise, Jonathan M. Thompson wrote an essay about Cook and the ducks, called “The Orpington Ducks.” Thompson finishes his lengthy diatribe with this paragraph:

Over the years, William Henry Cook claims to have been the originator of many varieties of fowls and ducks; only one, however, deserves any credence. He set out to deceive—for whatever reason—and the authors who follow, and unquestioningly repeat what has gone before, also mislead their reader. It is, therefore, little wonder the precise history of this breed and its colour-forms has appeared in an inaccurate state, following on from the primary accounts, when, prior to the writer’s endeavours, no exact investigation of the facts had taken place.

Here is a portrait of Mr. Cook, from his book. Judge for yourself his merits, if you think that looking at at drawing of someone about whom you have just heard is a good way to judge things:

Perhaps no discussion of Mr. Cook can or should duck the responsibility of mentioning the biology research study called “Homosexual Necrophilia in the Mallard Duck,” and perhaps no discussion of that study can exceed in merit the TED Talk given by its author, Kees Moeliker:

As you likely know, Moeliker was awarded the 2003 Ig Nobel Prize for biology, for this work.

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