Friday, September 8, 2017

Friday Featurette: Elephants with Howdahs

One of the rarest Breyer oddities is #94, the Elephant with Howdah. This model appears only in the 1958 Breyer catalog and price list, and though records from the 1950s are spotty and incomplete, given the scarcity of the howdah, it seems to be a safe bet that this set was made in 1958 only. In fact, it's so rare that I would postulate it was probably only in production for a few months (if that) in 1958.

The 1958 catalog does not specify the color of the howdah (nor the baskets carried by the companion #82 Donkey with Baskets), but until quite recently, it was presumed to be red and only red. The handful of known examples of both howdahs and baskets are molded from slightly soft reddish plastic. (And by "handful," I mean that I'm aware of approximately 4 elephants with red howdahs and 2 donkeys with red baskets. These pieces are seriously scarce.) To date, all examples have been found on the battleship grey variation of the elephant (or donkey in the case of the baskets). Both the howdah and baskets are sculpted to appear as though they are woven of straw. The belly band on the howdah is patterned, perhaps to simulate cloth or tooled leather?

Owned by Kim Haymond (Photo by me)
In June of 2014, my friend Ellen Vogel found an elephant and howdah set that turned the "only red" theory on its ear. She attended an estate sale near Chicago, and based on the models she purchased there, the estate was very likely that of a former Breyer employee. Several of the models Ellen acquired were vintage tests, seconds, and unfinished models. Included in her stellar haul was this amazing elephant with a blue howdah! To date, it is the only example known in this color, and presumably, it's a test.

Owned and photographed by Ellen V.
An elephant with a howdah has long been a Breyer grail for me, my sister, and my mom, so we were beyond thrilled to win an auction lot earlier this spring that included one. Interestingly, it too was molded in a previously unknown color. Our set features a yellow basket with a red belly band---perhaps the design intent was a straw colored basket set off by a red cloth- or leather-like band? As with the blue howdah, this is the only known example in this color, and it too came from a Chicago-area estate. Some of the other models in the lot were odd variations and production seconds, so I believe the original owner must have been a former Breyer employee as well.

Photo by Sarah W.
So this begs the question---are there donkeys with non-red baskets floating around out there somewhere? Wouldn't that be an exciting find!

Thanks for reading! Hope you all have a great weekend!

Monday, August 14, 2017

BreyerFest 2017, Part 3: BreyerFest Open Show Collectors Classes







Other Fun Entries!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

BreyerFest 2017, Part 2: Breakables!

My sister and I have attended Breakables on and off for the last few years depending on how ambitious we felt about multiple BreyerFest shows and how many ponies we thought we could cram into the car. This year, we volunteered to judge instead, and it was a terrific experience. Diana Dubbeld has taken over the hosting reins from Maggie Barkowitz, and the transition was flawless. The show ran smoothly and while the competition was fierce, the china community is small and close-knit, so it was a fun evening for everyone. I didn't have time to take many pictures, but I hope you all enjoy these!

Getting underway
Nancy Kelly's beautiful Hagen-Renaker Bison
Sue Stewart's stunning Rosenthal large lying foal
A wonderfully shaded rose grey HR Large Zara
And a lovely white Zara
Sue's massive Rosenthal "High Spirits." He's just shy of 2 feet tall.
JoEllen Arnold's fabulous Hutschenreuther Racehorse. (This is a new
clinky grail for me.)
"Galloping in Winter," a rare and delicately balanced piece by Royal Worcester
The original sales receipt for the RW GiW. Talk about great provenance!
An amazing test color HR Abdullah
The Keith Bean Memorial Award which is presented every year at Breakables
in memory of our beloved friend. He is very much missed.

JoEllen Arnold's winning entry

Next time, some eye candy from the BreyerFest Open Show!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

BreyerFest 2017, Part 1: No NAN-sense and A Good Vintage

I promise I will get back to blogging about meatier collectibility subjects soon, but since BreyerFest just wrapped up, I thought I'd get the picture dumps out of the way. Prepare for eye candy!

On Wednesday, my family hit the road for our 28th BreyerFest. We've never missed one since BreyerFest began in 1990, and I can hardly believe that we have another one in the books already!

Lexington bound!
Pretty Appalachian view
Beautiful Kentucky bluegrass
A flat tire delayed our arrival a bit, but by Thursday morning, we were excited to participate in No NAN-sense in downtown Lexington. My sister Sarah and I displayed some rare vintage models and chatted with visiting hobbyists about collectibility.

Sarah Minkiewicz' excellent A Good Vintage show for vintage customs was held in conjunction with No NAN-sense. It was very well-supported---here are some of my favorite entries!

1978 repainted Lady Phase by Betsy Andrews/Kathy Mayer
SO Lavender Lass, an RRH Justin Morgan done by Sue Rowe in the 1980s
SO Brilliant, a 1984 Trakehner also by Sue Rowe
Wings of Darkness, a 1982 PAM by Julie Froelich
Diamond Cavalier's Angel, a 1985 PAM by Kathy Maestas
Roxana El Shaklan, a 1991 PAM by Ray Ann Sneathen
Peace of Lightning, a 1993 drastic RRH from a Running Mare by Diane Capwell
A handsome 1991 Adios by Ray Ann Sneathen
SO China Rose, a 1990 PAM by Sue Rowe
Gekkohni Hitori (formerly White Zinfandel), a 1994 Classic Man O' War
by Ed Gonzales
Queensbury Rules, a 1995 Lady Phase by Tom Bainbridge
Duncan's Imperial Lass, a 1990 Clydesdale Mare by Laurie Jo Jensen
Sweet Jane, a 1990 PAM by Carol Williams
Spartacus, a 1988 Classic MOW by Chris (Cook) Flint
So Rare, a circa 1988 PAM by D'arry Jone Frank
21st Century Boy, a 1987 Classic MOW by Julie Froelich
The infamous Naoto Nisei, a 1985 Stock Horse Stallion by Julie Froelich
Cougar, and early 1980s PAM by Mary Sue Humphries
Early 1980s pieces by Mary Sue Humphries (left) and Sue Rowe (right)
SO Viktor Alexi, an early 1980s Clydesdale Stallion by Sue Rowe
Sunshine's Dark Delight, a 1984 Trakehner by Sue Rowe
Attn Evildoers, a 1978 Classic MOW by Nancy Strowger
Next up will be some pictures of vintage and rare clinkies from Breakables!