Back in the day, #49 Bay Stretched Morgans were da bomb. They were relatively pricey and hard to come by, in those crazy, pre-Internet days. A primo example could easily set you back a good 30 or 40 dollars!
(No, really. Stop giggling!)
I was happy beyond words when I found my first (of many) Bay Stretched Morgans at a local flea market. He was the standard bald-faced version with two front socks, in near mint condition. He’d hardly turn heads today, but back then - oh, what a treasure he was! I was such a proud Model Horse Mama when one of my fellow hobbyists came over to my table at a live show once just to admire him.
(I’ll never forget it. "Can I touch him?" she asked. "Sure," I said. And she held him up to her face and snuggled him like a kitten. Such a weird and lovely moment.)
Nowadays vintage Bay Stretched Morgans are not that exciting or cuddle-worthy. Ebay, and several recent releases in other shades of Bay have diluted the demand. Serious collectors still seek him out, but it’s only the more obscure variations - like the star-faced or four-socked ones - that command serious cash.
The one Bay Morgan who really brings out the big spenders, however, isn’t a variation at all: it’s the Special Run from the early 1970s in solid bay.
There are a number reasons why that is. The first are his good looks: aside from his total absence of markings, his color is both subtly and pleasingly different from other vintage Bay Morgans. The body shading, particularly on the shoulders, is softer and less dramatic than a regular run bay, and he has darker gray shading on his muzzle and his nether regions. His paint job looks quite modern, especially when compared to contemporary Regular Runs.
The second is historical significance: he was among the earliest true Special Runs of the modern/hobby era, made for the "Wonderful World of Horses" touring show sometime in the early- to mid-1970s. Other Special Runs do predate it - notably the Ranchcraft Woodgrains, and the Grooming Kits - but we’ve only recently reclassified them as Special Runs. Back then, everything we couldn’t classify was either an "oddity" or a "test run." (The hobby’s vocabulary was much smaller then.)
The third is rarity: you just don’t see them very often. There were at least 1000 pieces made (a substantial run, even today) but the distribution method created the rarity. Instead of being sold directly to collectors, they were sold as souvenirs, to people who were not usually hobbyists. Some of them did make it into hobbyist hands - via leftovers sold via Marney or the Bentley Sales Company - but not enough to satisfy demand.
The model who graces this blog post, believe it or not, was an upgrade. I considered myself very lucky to get the Solid Bay Morgan that I upgraded from, in the first place. He was restored, and not badly, but when the opportunity came on eBay to upgrade to a true mint one, I had to go for it.
He wasn’t the typical bargain basement deal I normally go for; I felt a little bad plunking down a whole Benjamin for him, until I saw a lesser example go for three times the price a few months later.
A good investment, if I thought of these things in that way.