Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The 1963 Dealer's Catalog

Sure wish I could remember what brand of batting I used on the quilt I finished yesterday, because it felt like I was quilting through cardboard. I can just barely flex my fingers today, so if you see any typos above and beyond my usual quota, there’s my excuse.

(Web surfing’s been extremely entertaining today, to say the least.)

I got all excited last week when I noticed someone had listed a "1965" Breyer Dealer’s Catalog on eBay. Alas, it was only a 1963 with the 1964 inserts:

A true 1965 Dealer’s Catalog is very similar to the 1963, but comes with an extra, bound-in signature, rather than loose insert sheets. Since I have the 1963 and the 1964 inserts, I didn’t pay any more attention to the auction after that. The letter that it came with would have been nice, but I already have two that predate that.

I was doing a little bit of research on some completed listings yesterday, and when I ran across it again, I did a double take on the price. I really wasn’t expecting it to go quite that high: I thought it’d land somewhere in the $200-225 range, not $300+.

It is true that I paid about the same amount of money for my 1963 Catalog with 1964 inserts. However, my lot also came with the Red Bird Sales pages that included the (so far) only known documentation for the original Buckskin Running Mare and Foal. When I bid on that lot way back when, the majority of my money was going towards those extras. The Dealer’s Catalog just happened to be an excellent "comes with."

What was shocking to me about the price on this latest auction is that the 1963 is probably the least rare of the pre-1970 Dealer’s Catalogs. They’re by no means "common," but of all the other known Dealer’s Catalogs, the 1963 is the easiest to obtain - easier than most of the late 1960s, even.

I think that is because I think Breyer printed up way more of them than they did of any of the other early Dealer’s Catalogs.

But why, and to what end?

I suspect that Breyer blew a big wad of cash on the 1963 catalog in an effort to upgrade the image of the brand in the eyes of retail buyers. It was clearly designed to do more than just sell specific products to existing buyers: it’s 16 pages, and in full color. Most of Breyer’s PR materials prior were either smaller in scale, or made limited use of color printing.

In some respects, I think it might have also served double duty as Breyer’s first "Collector’s Manual." It wouldn’t surprise me if Breyer had kept a few cases of this Dealer’s Catalog in the offices to mail out to all the kids that were writing to them back then. My 1963 Catalog came in a lot with a similar letter to a prospective collector, too.

It’s still a very, very good thing to have in anyone’s reference collection, but dang, I sure hope that price is not a harbinger of future ephemera auctions to come.

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