How they got their name remains lost in history. Perhaps from a corruption of the Paduan name, or a reference to the crest on the poll of their heads.
That crest is the most obvious distinguishing characteristic of Polish chickens. The feathers growing wildly out of the head give them a crazy appearance. The crest is not only feathers – the skull itself has a knob on it, shown in this drawing from Lewis Wright’s Illustrated Book of Poultry. Because of the placement of the crest, the bony skull structure affects the nostrils, so that Polish chickens have flattened, cavernous nostrils, as shown here in another illustration from Wright.
Four varieties of Polish chickens are recognized in the APA’s first Standard in 1874, all non-bearded: White Crested Black, Golden, Silver and White. Bearded Golden, Silver, White and Buff Laced were admitted to the Standard in 1883. The non-bearded Buff Laced variety was admitted in 1938, the non-bearded White Crested Blue in 1963 and the non-bearded Black Crested White in 1996.
Other Crested breeds include the Old French breed Crevecoeur, the more modern Houdan and the old Sultan. Jim Parker, who is also leading the Dorking Club, is the contact person for the Crested Breeds Club:
RR #6, 3232 Schooler Road
Cridersville, OH 45806