Monday, May 3, 2010

Working Class Poodles

I had the chance but nope, didn’t do it. Didn’t click on the Shopatron link and order a leftover Smokin Hot Chic. She’s pretty and all, but I just blew a wad on jewelry-making supplies (the latest craft obsession), and there’s no room for her anyway. More horses need to go out of the house, not come in.

Since I’ll be going full-bore crazy over the next week and a half making sure the Swap Meet goes off as planned (more on that tomorrow) my posts this week and next will be short and sweet - and hopefully, a little more frequent; I know I’ve been slacking!

My mind’s been on puppies lately. We had to replace our furnace last week, so our near-future puppy plans a little in doubt; the money just might not be there. The thought of not having a bouncing baby terrier tearing up the house apparently disturbed me so much that I found myself wandering the aisles of the local PetsMart on Friday, engaging in a little "pet" therapy.

I have most of the Traditional Breyer Dogs - not all, but most. Of all of them, I think I have the most of the Large Poodle - not sure why, I just do. It might be one of those regional things - they seem to show up in the markets here more frequently than the other more "common" Breyer canines, like the Boxer the Bassett Hound.

There’s also a multitude of subtle variations on the earliest Poodles - the Black and the White - that have fueled my previously unrecognized obsession. My favorites are the "Blue Collar" Poodles, especially my Black one:

We’re not entirely sure when the Large Poodle debuted; we know it was in production by 1957, since it’s seen in an ad for both the Black and the White in the June 1957 issue of Western Horseman, and in the 1957 Sears Wishbook (the infamous "French Poodle Sewing Kits.") I suspect that 1957 was the introduction date, but I don’t have any additional data to back it up my suspicion.

We’re pretty sure that the "Blue Collar" variations are the earliest, though. All of the reference photos of the Poodle prior to 1963 are in black and white, so all the evidence comes from the Poodles themselves. All Blue Collar Poodles I’ve seen lack the mold stamp - put on the mold ca. 1960 - and my MIB White Poodle with the Illustrated Shipper box (allegedly from the collection of an early Sales Rep) has a handpainted Blue Collar.

They are also relatively scarce, compared to the Red- and Pink-collared ones. The White Poodle is far easier to come by than the Black in the Blue Collar variation; I’ve had at least a half dozen Blue Collar Whites pass through my hands, but only one Blue Collar Black. Oh, I’ve tried: my Blue Collar Black is in much rough shape than he appears, and I’ve been trying to upgrade him for years. No luck: either I’m a little too late, or a little too short on the cash whenever a better one appears. Lucky for me he’s molded of solid black acetate, so his scuffs are not too noticeable.

So, why the disparity in the numbers? There are two possible theories. One, it could have been by design: maybe the Black Poodles were originally intended to come with Red Collars all along, and the Blues were a very brief anomaly. I prefer the second theory: I think the Black Poodle debuted slightly later than the White Poodle - maybe just by a few months, even - and by that time, they were already starting to phase out the blue paint in favor of the red, likely as a cost-cutting measure. (One less step in the painting process: just use the tongue paint as the collar paint!) Hence, the relative scarcity of the Blue Collar Blacks.


Heather said...

I just found the ceramic black and I believe it has a light colored collar. It might be European, the black is more of a gray-black...I will check when I get home but I was so stoked to find one!! Yippee!
So. Cal.

Anonymous said...

I have that same Poodle--black with blue collar. Dad got him for me when I was 5 or 6. I haven't seen another one until I saw yours.