Saturday, May 9, 2015

Minor Discoveries

Here’s that Western Prancing Horse I’ve been promising all week; he’s looking a little less yucky, though he does need a bit more work before he goes on the sales list:

He’s not all that impressive, at first glance - just a standard #110 Smoke Western Prancing Horse from the late 1960s, sans saddle. But even with a model as ordinary as this, there are a couple of points worth discussing.

The first is the "souvenir" decal for Lexington, Kentucky. Those decals aren’t an unusual thing to find on a model horse - I’ve seen Breyers, Hartlands, Hagen-Renakers, and all manner of Japans with them - but they are just unusual enough that they come up as a topic from time to time in the e-mails I receive.

As something that was added to a model after it left the factory - by a gift shop or at the tourist trap - the presence or absence of a tourist decal doesn’t significantly add or subtract to a model’s value.

The only value a decal like this one adds to a model depends in the significance of the location highlighted in the sticker. In the case of this Western Prancer, it does: Lexington is a place of great significance to model horse people, as it is the home of the Kentucky Horse Park, and BreyerFest.

The second feature that struck me about the Prancer was the reins: they’re an unusually bright shade of gold. Most of the reins I see are have the same level and color of tarnish as the wire bit that’s threaded through the bit holes, but not in this case. They’re clearly made of slightly different materials.

At first I thought the reins might have been a later replacement - perhaps from a Hong Kong knockoff - but I didn’t find any evidence to support that theory. Some Hong Kong reins are made of a lighter metal (aluminum?) and don’t have the same brassy heft that Breyer reins do, but the reins here "feel" right. They just don’t look right.

This suggests is that around this time, Breyer either switched their chain rein suppliers, or the suppliers of the chain reins changed the way they made them.

It’s a minor detail, admittedly, but sometimes minor details point the way to more significant discoveries. 


Denise said...

I have some Western Ponies/Horses/Prancers with these bright gold reins too! Often wondered about this-they didn't look like they've been replaced.

Anonymous said...

Just FYI, soaking the reins in ketchup brightens up tarnished reins nicely.

Anonymous said...

I would guess the reins have simply been cleaned up. It's very quick and easy to remove the tarnish and brighten them up. :)