Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Black Grazing Mares

Isn’t it funny how some variations drive some hobbyists crazy, while others barely rate a shrug?

The "black hoof" Black Grazing Mare is one of those kind of models. When you point out an example that has the black hooves instead of the standard gray, many hobbyists get that slightly quizzical "Hmm, I never noticed that before" look.

Such is the case with the Grazing Mare and Foal in general. Outside of the occasional Test Color, Oddity or Chalky, those molds never have rated very high in the Collectibility scale. Most collectors aren’t really looking for Grazing Mares and Foals, and what you aren’t looking for you won’t find.

I happened to notice, but only because I was one of those rare birds: the Black Grazing Mare was one of my earliest "grails." I’m not sure why; as I’ve related before I was also obsessed, back in my early days, with finding the alleged test color/variation of the "Solid Black" Scratching Foal, so I’m guessing I must have had a thing for the black horses back then.

Come to think of it, I did already have most of the ones I had already known about, up to that point. Models like the Stretched Morgan, the Bucking Bronco, several of the Stablemates - the Appaloosas and the Pintos, too. Yep, must have.

Anyway, when I found out that the Grazing Mare and Foal had come in Black several years prior to my entering the hobby, OMG, I had to have them.

It took me years to finally find them, and when I did, it was a little anticlimactic. I found a matching set at BreyerFest, for a good price. I was thrilled to have finally found them, but the drama had been drained dry by then. It took me a few years more to find a nice "black hoof" Mare, but that was mostly because my collecting priorities were elsewhere.

The "black hoof" Mare is far more common than the Foal; I’ve only seen a couple of the Foals online, and even then I had my doubts about their authenticity. It’s dreadfully easy to fake black hooves. Fake’s probably too strong a word: it implies malice, and in most cases of hoof painting no malice was intended. It was something hobbyists of a younger persuasion often did to make their favorite horse even better. A little nail polish, or black marker, and voila!

Even thought they’re not all that common, a nice example of the "black hoof" Grazing Mare doesn’t bring that much more than a standard gray hoof one. An authentic black hoof Grazing Foal might merit a little more cash, if anyone other than me was looking for one.


Little Black Car said...

She was one of my grails, too. Actually, the first real "collector's item" model I ever acquired was a black Grazing Mare. My hobby ambitions have always been modest, it seems, but I adore her and she is still one of the last models I'd part with if I--horrors--had to give up the collection.

I saw a factory-freak[?] smoke Grazing Mare for sale on eBay a number of years ago. I couldn't bear to watch the final bid; the last I recall, she was up to about $800 with five days left to go on the auction. Oh, I would have done almost anything for that model, but she was going to cost me about 6 months' wages at the time.

In general, though, I don't go in much for variations unless I like them for their own sakes. All models are slight variations, right? Where does one draw the line? (I might go for a black-hoof Grazing Mare, though, but mostly as an excuse to squeeze in another Grazing Mare.)

Lynn Isenbarger said...

My black grazing mare and foal are some of the first models I got... back in the 60s, maybe? I have always loved them (I'm into the black horses, too) but had no idea that their black hooves were unusual.

I also have the "dad" - the Stretch Morgan - in black with black hooves. Seems like JAH did a Vintage article a few years ago and mentioned that that was unusual.

Nice to know all three pieces are a bit different. Thanks for the information!

Anonymous said...

My earliest Breyers got black hooves thanks to a paint marker. I had become somewhat... obsessed, I guess, with hooves and farrier work and decided that too many of my Breyers had horrible hooves. So I took a nail file and did a little handiwork, re-shaping and such. Then I painted them black (it was like preparing them for a show if they were real!) and didn't think much about it.

Even today I had to restrain myself from doing some hoof work on my models...

GWR said...

My poor PAS has chips on his hooves from where I "trimmed" them.

beforetheRfell said...

My experience has been that the black hoof versions of the Black Grazing Mare & Foal and bald face Black Stretched Morgan predate the grey hoof versions.