A bit of history from a 1922 perspective, taken from "Blue ribbon Reds": what they are and how to produce them"
Shape Diagrams of Rhode Island Reds
By W. H. CARD
Now that the idea of a correct color scheme for Rhode Island Reds is pretty well understood, the time is opportune to consider the type to fit the correct color scheme. Shape is more definite than color on a, Rhode Island Red, because each line can be followed; it should be as distinctly different on each breed as the difference between a giraffe and a horse. Color is indefinite because of the wording of the Standard for Rhode Island Reds, which reads, "rich brilliant red," which may be interpreted as a shade of red from deep orange to dark blood red, therefore we use the words "correct color scheme," which embraces all these shades and which is definitely bounded only by the words "a harmonious blend or even color," which means that the plumage shall be exactly the same shade of color from head to tail. We are to suppose that color is correct on every bird shown by the diagrams.
Fig. 1 represents correct male type or shape as approved by the Executive Committee of this Club, and notice further that it fits the Standard reading of same.
Fig. 2 shows correct type, except tail is carried a trifle too low, also comb has seven serrations, instead of five, and eye is light colored.
Fig. 3 outlines a type of Rhode Island Red quite often seen in our show rooms and is quite deceiving in shape to the casual observer who sees an oblong but does not differentiate between it and an oblong with top or back line perfectly horizontal; then again, it is more rotund or an appearance of depth without meat substance; noticeable also in the short, pudgy thighs. Right at this point is an object lesson worthwhile. Note that Fig. 2 has poor comb and eyes; comb is allotted eight points and eyes two points for color, or ten points in all, which leaves ninety points to be considered, even if comb and eyes were removed. (Novices leave such a bird at home, because of his poor eyes and comb), but the cut for these imperfect sections hardly aggregate two and one-half points. Fig. 3 with perfect comb and eyes has no cuts in these sections; but every other section from head to tip of tail is subject to sufficient cuts to aggregate not less than five points on type alone. (This is the bird the novice takes to the show because he has a perfect comb and eyes.) But note the fact that head points belong to the minor sections and to be considered major points only when all else is equal; too much importance is placed on comb and eyes and not enough on body lines throughout by the novice. In other words, ten points for head and adjuncts is ranked equal to ninety points for body entire in their first-sight conclusions. But Fig. 2 wins over Fig. 3, when fully considered by Standard reckoning.
Fig. 4 is not an exaggeration, but another type liable to confound the novice, because of the long, perfectly horizontal back line and general poise, yet the immense height, chopped breast, elevated tail, slim neck, spindly shanks and elongated thighs are not part of the true Rhode Island Red type. This bird is generally narrow-chested and knock-kneed, and in breadth and capacity far inferior to Fig. 3. Birds like Fig. 4 also lack vigor and stamina, and while it has the same horizontal back line as Figs. 1 and 2, its show bird worth is far below Fig. 3, which has a sturdy, virile appearance.
Fig. 5 is also, a broad, virile-appearing bird, but of no semblance in any line to a Rhode Island Red type; because Fig. 4 is oblong, even though very imperfect, it should be placed ahead of Fig. 5, which might be called of Wyan dotte or Orpington type.
Fig. 6 is a type bred and fostered in the search of correct color. The position of this bird shows the large part of the body ahead of the legs, yet an oblong on a slant, giving the bird a sort of a game shape very unlike Rhode Island Red type. The correct horizontal type has legs exactly under center of body, and thus cannot come to a poise other than horizontal. Figure 6 with legs nearer stern, feels the extra weight in front and throws his body into position to adjust the load to an easy poise in his legs; hence the oblong on a slant. This brings us to a comparison of the legs against the head points. As before stated, most novices consider the head and its adjuncts very important sections; but note, by the above, the legs are far more important. When wrongly placed on the body they throw everybody section out of true, with Rhode Island Red type completely obliterated; whereas the poor comb and eyes on Fig. 2 have no affect whatsoever on type.
Fig. 1 represents the correct type for a Rhode Island Red female.
Fig. 2 has the correct back line, but lower lines suggest the Orpington, although the body is long and poised correctly.
Fig. 3 is an oblong, but with a sloping tilt to body, and has a high-pitched tail. This type somewhat resembles the Buckeye type.
Fig. 4 has a longish body, evenly and correctly poised, but the cushion on back line and the heavy abdomen leave but little trace of the Rhode Island Red shape.
Fig. 5 is a fit mate to Fig. 5 in male type, and shows no sign of Rhode Island Red type.
Fig. 6 is the slender-boned Leghorn type of Rhode Island Red females, whose crow head and beak and spindle shanks indicate a weak constitution and poor productive powers. To arrange these diagrams with color differences is a matter for different consideration, and in combine with type calls for a judicious exercise of that factor called judgment. Type faddists decry the color craze and vice versa, yet) in the diagrams for both male and female from Fig. 1 to Fig. 6, there may be colors that would completely change the arrangement of the figures as now placed; thus
It is that suppositious comparisons could be brought forward without end, with the controversy as to which, color or type, is the more important, still unsettled. Yet there is no gainsaying the fact that the so-called color craze made Rhode Island Reds what they are today; namely, the leading and most popular breed in the show rooms of the world, with the overflow surpassing all other breeds in the utility field; an achievement beyond accomplishment with the crazy-quilt color patterns of a decade ago, even if the type was correct to a hair. It is the union of both color and type that is the desire of every up-to-date Rhode Island Red fancier and breeder and no more stress should be given to one than to the other; to do so is Faddism. These diagrams are for the beginner or novice that he or she may be able to differentiate correctly and easily between those that are true to type and those that are not true to type whenever and wherever displayed. The Standard says that type makes the breed and color the variety; but with Rhode Island Reds color DOES NOT makes the variety; it makes the breed just as much as type makes the breed. Therefore, color is just as important as shape in Rhode Island Reds. Our breed is the one breed where head points make the variety, as the color and type are exactly the same on both the Rose Combs and the Single Combs. And at this juncture I would advise that the breeders of Rhode Island Reds the world over incline to constructiveness, not destructiveness; accepting the other fellow's ideas with tolerance in the common cause of the best breed on earth.