Thursday, November 27, 2014

Dating with Family Arabians

A nice, quiet and peaceful Turkey Day. The rest of the extended weekend will be spent taking care of paperwork and trying to get as much stuff up on MH$P and the like by Monday. If I can manage it, I might even have a special offer up here.

(I am also trying to get one particularly aggravating quilt project done by then, so again, no promises made.)

One interesting aspect of collection buying is that collections tend to be time capsules: most of pieces in a given collection will have been purchased within a narrow span of time. The more pieces you have, the more accurate the dating can be.

The second collection I purchased was datable from 1959 to 1962, a time period I consider one of the most fascinating for Breyer History. A ton of new and more realistic molds were coming in, and the less realistic molds were being phased out. Less emphasis was being put on acquiring entertainment licenses, and more on creating generic pieces with (presumably) fewer production restrictions. And there were more horse molds being introduced, period: in the 1950s, the number of horse and nonhorse molds were often at or near parity.

It’s also one of the lesser-documented eras: aside from some mail-order company sheets, the ca. 1960 Dealer Catalog and 1961 Inserts, and some XMAS catalogs pages, there’s not a lot to go on. Price lists are in short supply, so release dates from that era are difficult to pinpoint. Most of what we know - or think we know - is built on a fragile web of references.

This is why things like the existence of frequent mold variations on the Family Arabian Foal can be so invaluable: it’s one of the few ways we supplement the slender paper trail.

This collection had several Family Arabians in it, of every color. Alas, there were no belly-stamped Foals, but some curled-eartip ones. Except for this Gloss Palomino:

It has the fatter and flatter ears typical of the majority of Family Foals from the 1960s. Here’s a comparison with an Appaloosa Foal from the same collection, with the curled eartips:

I have not been able to track down any Charcoal or Palomino Family Foals with the curled eartips. The few bits of ephemera we have from 1959-1962 suggest that the Palomino and Charcoal Family Arabians didn’t debut until 1961 or even 1962. If the eartip mold changes occurred prior to the release of the Palomino and Charcoal Family Arabians, that would explain the absence (or extreme rarity) of curled eartip versions of them.

Exactly when? That, we still can’t pinpoint. Just a probable sequence.

Anyway, the fact that virtually all of the other models in this collection are datable to this time period also suggests that this Foal - and his entire family, who came with - are likely to be extremely early releases of the Palomino Family Arabians, if not among the earliest.

They were in very, very nice condition compared to the other Family Arabians in the group, which means they were either highly prized, lightly played with, or both. They are so nice I haven't decided yet if they are staying, or going.

That the Palominos could have been highly prized should not be a surprise. Let’s not forget that at the time they were likely purchased, the Palominos were a shiny new novelty. No one had any idea they’d eventually become common to the point of ubiquity.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have an alabaster foal with a belly stamp and I believe had the curly ear tips. The very tips of the ears are gone but I still believe they are/were curly. Does the belly stamp help date the foal as an early one?