Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ephemeral

I’m afraid I’m not going to be terribly talkative today. The "texture" issue I had over the weekend turned into an allergic reaction so severe that I ended up at the local urgent care clinic early Monday morning. I’m feeling (and looking!) somewhat better today, but the Benadryl is definitely messing with my head.

I used the unexpected day off to sort through some very old hobby ephemera I received during BreyerFest, from the archive of a long-time hobbyist. There’s not a lot of Breyer-specific information in it, but some of the materials contained within are absolutely mindblowing from a Hobby History standpoint. Including this seemingly crude newsletter:


It’s the first page/front page of the January 1969 issue of The Model Horse Shower’s Journal.

Think about that a minute: January 1969. That’s over 45 years ago! I’m astounded that something this ephemeral lasted this long. It’s continuing existence a testimony to the staying power of the hobby, and the profound impact it had on its participants.

The level of sophistication that existed in the hobby then came as something of a revelation to me. Live shows were exceedingly rare then, but the photo show scene was thriving, pedigree assignment/breeding was huge, and dozens of clubs abounded to cater to every whim and interest.

And most astounding of all, on the second page of the January 1969 issue, someone was already trying to collect photographs to write a history book. (Oh, how much simpler it would have been, back then…)

There was even a NAMSA: The North American Model Showers’ Association! I have an undated 8-page flier that defines all the positions within the Board of Directors, Voting Rights, the Point System, Approved Shows, and a Championship Show. (There’s mention of 6-cent stamps? That would date it to ca. 1968-1971.)


I have even earlier evidence of hobby activity, but nothing that suggested this level of complexity.

I didn’t become an active participant in the hobby until 1978, though I was aware of it before then through the ads for Just About Horses in the Breyer Collector’s Manuals. And through the enthusiastic recruiting efforts of a couple of hobbyists a grade ahead of me who rode the same school bus.

When I received my first issue of The Model Horse Shower’s Journal in September 1978, it was like I had opened the door into another world, full of people like me. Hundreds, if not thousands, of them.

Whenever I speak to younger hobbyists - and even some older hobbyists who discovered the hobby later in life - many of them get the impression that it’s a relatively new phenomenon, wholly created by Breyer itself.

Although it is true that Breyer started to have a more visible and active presence in the hobby by the late 1960s, they were only adding bricks to the foundation that we had started years before.

4 comments:

Little Black Car said...

I didn't get into the hobby until the mid-1980's but I'm absolutely kicking myself for not saving my old show results, newsletters, etc. What was I thinking, getting rid of that stuff??

Christine said...

MHSJ was my official "in" to the hobby. A friend slipped me an issue in 1976, embarrassed that it seemed "stupid" to be showing plastic horses. That same week we were hit by an ice storm that took out our electricity for a week and I read it until 2 am by kerosene lamp. That magazine was the beginning of a life long hobby for me. I was a member of the NAMHSA too.

Thanks for the blast from the past. Good memories. Hope you are feeling better.

Corky said...

I've been collecting since the late 1960s, but wasn't aware of model horse showing until maybe 1972 or 1973, when I got hold of a Mini Tack catalog that mentioned it. I didn't get a chance to show until about 1985, though.

Tammy Daniels said...

Pretty sure I still have MHJs from the early 1970s in a box somewhere. I got involved about then - one of my first buys through the journal was a Hagen-Renaker mini Morgan stallion for the princely price of $3.50 - and won a few ribbons. Still collecting but not showing. I really enjoy your blog.