Monday, May 4, 2009

Bay versus Chestnut

Since he’s been getting a little well-deserved attention in the spotlight, I thought I’d spend a little time discussing a favorite mold of mine: the Quarter Horse Gelding. I was originally going to classify today’s particular topic as an Urban Legend, but it’s really just a case of mistaken identity: the persistent confusion between the Chestnut and Bay Special Run Geldings.

Here is the 1987 Red Chestnut Quarter Horse Gelding Special Run:


Approximately 1400 pieces were made - a pretty big piece count for a 1980s special run. He didn’t exactly set the model horse world on fire: it’s not the most attractive color, and he’s never been a terribly popular mold. It shouldn’t be surprising that in spite of the fact that about half of them were probably customized and flocked by one of the dealers who received them (Eighmey’s Wagon Shop,) he’s still a relatively easy and inexpensive model to pick up.

This, on the other hand, is the 1984 Matte Bay Quarter Horse Gelding Special Run:


It is estimated that about 300 pieces were made of this particular guy, though I think that piece count may be low: it’s only an estimate from one of the dealers who received him. That particular dealer was also Eighmey’s Wagon Shop. Like the Red Chestnut SR, they altered and flocked most of the models they received - 250 of the 300, supposedly, leaving only about 50 pieces in their original state.

Rumor has it that Caauwe Sales in Nebraska also received some. But probably not a lot: the only Matte Bay I’ve even seen for sale in recent years was my example, and I found him in a body box lot on eBay. (Thus explaining his less than minty state.) In an era that saw a lot of small, poorly distributed special runs, he’s right up there with some of the rarest.

Because they were similar looking 1980s special runs of the same mold, distributed by mail order, both partially "destroyed" by the same distributor, they’re frequently confused with one another. Most of the information I find about them online and elsewhere mangles the data about the two pretty thoroughly.

The fact that few collectors have heard - or seen - an actual Matte Bay QH Gelding probably contributes to the confusion. I know when I first heard rumors of his existence, I wasn’t inclined to believe them. I never saw one for sale, and I didn’t know anyone who’d cop to owning one. I thought it was just another one of those phantom special runs that only existed on collector want lists.


The body color between the two is similar - the Chestnut is more reddish than the Bay - but as always, it’s the details that make the difference. The Chestnut has gray hooves, and a small star. The Matte Bay has black hooves, a black mane and tail, a large star and snip, and a dark shaded muzzle - not unlike the original Gloss Bay release. My Matte Bay has higher than average stockings too, but that might just be a natural variation, not a characteristic of the special as a whole.

(And unlike the Gloss version, the Matte Bay will always have the USA mold mark. That should go without saying, but with all of the subtle mold mark changes lately, one can never be too careful...)

A few more Matte Bay Quarter Horse Geldings will show up eventually, as more collectors learn to distinguish them from their more common chestnut comrades - not a lot, but a few. I suspect that more collectors will suddenly discover that their Bay rarity is actually a more pedestrian Chestnut.

1 comment:

Christine said...

Another one is the Western Prancing horse. I have one that is brown with a darker brown mane and tail yet I was told he sold as a bay? He is not bay of course. I have seen others so I am guessing he isn't a fluke.