Friday, November 13, 2009
Walking Black Angus Bull
Still being a bit lazy; I’m trying to finish at least one of my big sewing projects by the end of the week, and while I am a good multitasker in general, I am not quite good enough to sew and type at the same time.
I just happened to still have one of my Walking Black Angus Bulls on my desk, leftover from the Boehm posts: I think I’ll talk about him today.
The Walking Black Angus Bull is supposedly based on the Boehm Black Angus Bull, though the resemblance is the weakest among the four known Boehm copies: the original was standing, not walking, and didn’t have a halter. There are other differences, too - enough to make me think that there might have been an intermediate step in the mold’s translation to plastic.
He was a relatively late addition to Breyer’s lineup compared to the other Boehm molds - either in 1959 or 1960, at least three years after the Brahma and the Horned Hereford Bull were introduced. Coincidentally, this just so happened to be around the time that Breyer was having legal troubles with Hagen-Renaker concerning the Old Mold Arabians: could it be that Breyer, spooked by the lawsuit, made some pre-emptive changes to the Angus Bull mold?
There just so happens to be rumors of a Standing variation of the Walking Black Angus Bull, originating in Marney Walerius’s book Breyer Models. On page 23 of this now collectible reference book, it’s listed as a separate version of the #72 mold, released in 1957 and 1958.
No such models have turned up anywhere, however, and I rather doubt they will.
Why do I think that? Well, a lot of Marney’s research was based not on physical documentation, but on memories, hearsay and rumors that she picked up in her many trips to the Chicago factory. But memories, hearsay and rumors are unreliable things, and have a nasty habit of changing over time.
I think there is a kernel of truth in there somewhere. Marney was right more often than she was wrong: it’s just taken us years of research and documentation to sift the truth out of the debris. In the case of the Black Angus, we still don’t have enough objective, independent data to distinguish one from the other yet.
Did she confuse the Boehm Angus with the Breyer Angus? Did Breyer create the mold in a standing position originally, and change it prior to production? I don’t know.
Even after he was released, Breyer continued to tinker with the mold. There are three known "states" to the mold: "poodle cut," "semi-rough," and "full rough." It is generally believed that the "poodle cut" version is the rarest, but the "semi-rough" is not easy to find either, probably because it looks similar enough to the "full rough" on first glance that it gets overlooked. It’s only when you put them side to side that you can really see the difference.
A lot of early Breyer molds had significant mold alterations made early on, with the Clydesdale Stallion’s shoulder being the best known of these changes. The reasons for most of these mold changes - including the Walking Black Angus - is unknown.