Sunday, December 27, 2009

Heavy Metal Horses

Ach! I am so completely unmotivated. It's my reflective time of the year; I'd rather sit and contemplate the greater mysteries of the universe, than the smaller ones of Breyer History. I'm not going to force it, because I have faith that this deeper contemplation will lead to something productive in the end. Like Douglas Adams's "holistic detective" character Dirk Gently, I believe it doesn't matter where I start, because eventually I'll end up where I need to go. From The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul:

"... A few turnings later and I was thoroughly lost. There is a school of thought which says that you should consult a map on these occasions, but to such people I merely say, 'Ha! What if you have no map to consult? What if you have a map but it's of the Dordogne?' My own strategy is to find a car, or the nearest equivalent, which looks as if it knows where it is going and follow it. I rarely end up where I was intending to go, but often I end up somewhere that I needed to be. So what do you say to that?"


"A robust response. I salute you."

Not a terribly useful line of thinking if you find yourself wandering around the parking lot of Target the day after Christmas, in the rain, wondering where the heck you parked the darn car, but perhaps moreso in more intellectual pursuits. Like running keyword searches on Google for cast iron doorstops.

Like this one:

It's part of an extended series of Breyer knockoff doorstops. In one of my luckier days at the flea market, I found a small collection - five pieces, to be precise. I sold most of them off for my own safety: they were extremely heavy, and I am extremely clumsy and value my feet.

I did keep the Old Timer: I have a modest interest in Breyer knockoffs, and I was a little obsessed with the Old Timer at that moment in time. He was also in the best condition of the bunch, and he still had his hat. (Cast Iron Doorstop with removeable hat = cool. 'Nuff said.)

I do know a little bit about these cast iron knockoffs For the record, there are at least eleven of them:

4510 St. Bernard
4511 Horned Hereford Bull
4512 Bassett Hound
4513 Appaloosa Foal (Lying Down Foal)
4514 Tennessee Walking Horse (Midnight Sun)
4515 Fighting Stallion (Alabaster)
4516 Arabian Stallion (Palomino FAS)
4517 Famous Thoroughbred (Traditional Man o War)
4518 Clydesdale Stallion
4519 Jumping Horse
4520 Old Timer

I know this much about them because I have multi-generational copies of two pages from a catalog that lists them by these names and numbers. It's obviously some sort of wholesale or manufacturer catalog, because the copy states: This new handsome group of animal reproductions in Cast Iron is becoming a popular and fast-moving line among our customers.

There's some truth in the statement about their popularity, because they do turn up with some frequency in antique stores, on eBay, and on antique web sites that don't know what they are talking about.

Those antique websites usually identify them as being very old. They can't be: they're all copies of models made from the 1950s onward; the St. Bernard wasn't introduced until 1972! My guess would be that they date from the mid- to late 1970s: cross-reference the manufacturing dates, and you'll find that these models were all current and available from 1972 through 1980.

Who the manufacturer is, is the mystery here. The antique web sites and references sometimes identify them as Hubley, which is impossible since Hubley stopped manufacturing in the mid-1960s. They did make a few horses, but they don't look anything like the Breyer knockoffs. It's just wishful thinking on the antiquers' part: Hubley pieces are very collectible, and often very pricey.

The only clue to the real manufacturer is a logo that appears in the upper corner of the two catalog pages: a Currier and Ives-styled horse with the letters ASC.

I've done several different keyword searches looking for this company, with no usable results. At this point I think randomly typed keyword searches would probably be just as fruitful.


Anonymous said...

I have a cast iron Clydesdale Mare. She's bay, same size as the regular one and is solid iron! Very very heavy!

Carrie said...

I've seen a Clyde mare too, although the piece I saw at the Croswell Stockyards was not painted. Would not want to stub a toe on that!

Becky Turner said...

speaking of knock offs.. I have never seen these ones ( link below) and I have to say this guys has alot of nerve! I'd tell Breyer if you can.. I think they might listen to you.. I mean I can see not bothering if the chinese do it.. they are low quality but this guy is putting out what looks like nice pieces.. he must have taken them and cleaned them up ,..I wonder if he is claiming he sculpted them? I htink he is... I also have seen the rearing horses in the background at another place.. I wonder if they know he is casting copies? anyway.. as far as Im concerned this is like a hobbiest making a mold of smarty jones and casting it in resin! no changes! now you know Breyer would not like that and this guy is In the us! Id think since they cast a few in bronze last year for breyerfest.. they would not want his guy doing it too... if you do tell them ... and I think you should....let me know that they say?Id do it but have no idea who to tell... heres the link scroll down to the horses... you'll recognize them...
Rebecca Turner

beforetheRfell said...

I have a Clydesdale Mare as well, along with a Stallion who is painted like the Breyer #80 with red and white bobs.

Jennifer said...

This doorstop in the shape of the Clydesdale Stallion is coming up for auction soon at a very reputable auction house (Morphy): estimated $200-$300!! At first I thought Breyer copied off of whoever made this because these doorstops are usually older that 1960s. Going to do some more research...

Anonymous said...

I have seen the Clyde Mares in person, probably about 7 years ago or so at latest, at a basket shop in Vermont. I always admired them, but for some reason never actually bought one! Now, I really want one and of course the store doesn't have them anymore :(

-PixelPerfectStables (Blab)