It’s that time of year, and the topic of Christmas Decorators is making the rounds again. Since I had a small part in contributing to this most famous of all Breyer Legends, it’s probably a good time for me to give you the full story, summarize all that I know, and give all of you my thoughts on the matter.
Several years ago - I cannot remember the exact date, or the name of the person in question - I was having an extended phone conversation with a hobbyist. Since I am telephone-phobic, picking up the phone to call a near-total stranger would cause me all manner of trauma. So all I can say for sure is that she probably called me about something on a sales list that had been published somewhere. (Once I’m on the phone, I’m okay: it’s the picking up and/or dialing that gives me the dry heaves.)
Since this was well before the Internet, we were all a little lonelier and desperate for model horse talk, and the conversation quickly drifted from whatever model or models we were discussing to other topics of a model horse nature. (This wasn’t the first, or last of those kind of calls, either. We’ve all had our share of them, haven’t we?)
I mentioned something about collecting Breyer reference material, and the hobbyist on the other end of the line mentioned how she ran across a stash of old mail-order catalogs at a garage sale. She had spent some time going through them, looking for Breyers. She said that she saw "Red and Green Smoke" Breyers in one, specifically mentioning the Running Mare.
It wasn’t anything I had seen or heard about before, so I pestered her for more details - the date, the store, anything - but she couldn’t remember any of that. I made a mental note about them, and that was that.
Our knowledge of Breyer History back then was very rudimentary, compared to today. You could ask Breyer, but then as now, they didn’t know much at all. Getting an answer from Marney Walerius was not always an easy or simple task, either. While she was certainly privy to information we can only dream of now, she was not the clearest of writers or thinkers. (Sometimes she’d ramble, and casually drop a detail or bit of information on us in passing that’d have us scratching our heads…)
I don’t recall ever mentioning or asking about Christmas Decorators to either Breyer or Marney; it probably never even occurred to me to ask. I don’t recall there being any discussion about Christmas-themed Decorators back then. If there had been any discussion about them in the newsletters of the time, I had completely missed it. That phone conversation was the first I heard of any Green or Red Breyers even existing; we may or may not have even called them "Christmas Decorators," though we probably made the assumption (Holiday mail-order catalogs + Decorators = Christmas Decorators!)
The facts that no one actually had one or knew much about them were not impediments to belief, though. There were a lot of models that only existed in rumor: they only stopped being a rumor once one showed up - and that happened a lot back then. There were models that existed on paper that didn’t seem to exist, and models that existed that we had no documentation for.
The safest bet was to assume that they were possibly, or even probably real, and hope you’d be the lucky one to be there when one finally shows up.
And for several years, that was pretty much the story.
I didn’t think much about those models until several years later, when I found Nancy Young’s account of Gale Good’s story in Breyer Molds & Models. I had not heard of Gale’s story before. All I could think was that, at last, there was more evidence!
Or was there? More on that, next.