Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Holy Grails

When asked to name their "holy grails," other hobbyists will name something rare, obscure or downright impossible (and frequently all three!) But it’s almost always a model of some sort. Not me. My "holy grails" are something else entirely: the 1959 through 1962 Breyer wholesale price lists.

I do have lots of research materials from that time period in my archive; most of you should be aware of the infamous Red Bird Sales fliers that confirm the existence of the Buckskin Running Mare and Foal as regular run items (albeit very brief ones!) I also have the ca. 1960 Dealer Catalog, the ca. 1961 Insert Sheets, and numerous other odd bits.

But official, dated Breyer ephemera documenting the comings and goings of different releases on a year to year basis? MIA.

We do have a 1958 price sheet: I don’t hold out much hope of finding any primary sources prior to that beyond what we already know about. There certainly could be more: I never expected, for instance, to run across the original 1950 sales flier for the Money Manager a few years ago - but I did! But what they issued, how they issued and distributed the information - the number of unknowns there will make your head hurt.

I’m pretty sure that there had to have been some sort of price lists from 1959 to 1962. It seems unlikely that they’d issue one in 1958, and not issue an updated one until 1963. That time period was extremely turbulent in terms of new colors and molds; we already know that from the secondary sources we do have. (The Red Bird Sales pages are extremely helpful in that regard - who would have thought a single index card-sized sheet of yellow paper could be the Rosetta Stone of Early Breyer History?)

And the two pieces of primary documentation we have from that era are technically undated. We’re pretty sure that the duotone Dealer Catalog is from 1960, and that the Insert Sheets of the Mustang, Five-Gaiter, Fighter and Modernistic Deer are from 1961. A dated piece of paper could finally settle the matter - it wouldn’t even have to be a pricelist, necessarily; a letter or a press release would generate much happiness here.

There is another small complication: I have some hints that Breyer wasn’t really firm on release dates back then, either. I have a suspicion that the Fighting Stallion and the Modernistic Buck and Doe may have been available in late 1960, in time for Holiday orders. So even official release culled from wholesale price lists may be nearly a year off!

Honestly, at this point I don’t care how accurate they actually are: I can sort the mess out later. I just have a desperate need to fill in that hole in my archive. I don’t have much money for horses this year, but there’s always room in the budget for more research materials! (Room in the house? Another question entirely.)

1 comment:

pookaa said...

I, too, an fascinated by the old catalogs, but unfortunately don't have many old original items. I have a b&w copy of a sales sheet with photos like the Running Mare/Foal shown above. Since 12 of the 16 horses are available in woodgrain, I'm guessing it's 1964-65?

I also have a few Bentley Sales Company sheets from the mid-80s. My favorite item:

"Smokey Flocked Unicorn - $3.99 each. Model #69 flocked white with grey hair mane, tail & whiskers. NO LIMIT - at this low price all sales final."

Heh - that was one ugly horse - no wonder all sale were final. :-)