Friday, May 15, 2009

Ranchcraft Lamps

Since I’ve mentioned them a couple times recently, in passing, here’s a helpful list of known Ranchcraft Woodgrain Lamps:
  • Family Arabian Foal
  • Running Mare and Foal
  • Running Foal Wall Sconce
  • Fighting Stallion
  • Longhorn Bull
  • Buffalo
  • Polled Hereford Bull
There are non-Woodgrain Ranchcraft lamps too, but I haven’t tracked them as closely as the Woodgrains. Among the best known of these are "variations" of the Woodgrains: Family Arabian Foal in Palomino, the Running Mare and Foal in Bay, and the Buffalo in Brown. They’re desirable, of course, but not on the same level as the Woodgrains.

There hasn’t been a lot of research done to date on the Ranchcraft Lamps, mostly because they were not considered official Breyer products, and never appeared in any official Breyer promotional material. Most of what we know about the Ranchcraft Lamps comes from vintage mail-order catalogs and a handful of contemporary magazine ads. Our data is so fragmentary that we can’t pinpoint a manufacturing date: my best guess, from what sources I do have, is roughly from 1965 through 1970, give or take a year either way.

Have you noticed something funny about that time period? Yes, most Woodgrains - with the exception of the Family Arabians and the Fighting Stallion - were discontinued by then. While it’s possible that Breyer sold Dunning Industries a number of leftover Woodgrains from their warehouse, I believe a lot - if not most - of the Woodgrains they used were either special run or post production run pieces manufactured specifically for them.

The best evidence for that is the existence of two Woodgrains that are found only on lamps: the Buffalo, and the Polled Hereford Bull. The PHB didn’t even make it into Breyer’s lineup until 1968 - a couple of years after even the Family Arabians were discontinued in that color!

The Buffalo and Polled Hereford Bull lamps are, of course, the rarest of the lamps: there aren’t more than a handful of either one floating about in the hobby. (The Polled Hereford Bull is high on my "desperately wanted" list!) The rest are slightly to somewhat more common, especially the Running Mare and Foal and the Family Arabian Foal - I’ve found a couple of each of those myself, and I don’t normally find a lot of Woodgrains in these parts.

The Running Mare and Foal Lamp appears to have been either the most popular or best-selling piece: it appears in a 1972 Miller-Stockman mail-order catalog (for sale at a pricey $37.95 - Ouch!) Since a small number of these Mare and Foal Lamps also have USA mold marks, that’s further evidence suggesting that these Lamp-based Woodgrains were SRs or PPRs. The USA mold mark did not appear on the Running Mare and Foal molds until at least 1970 - five years after they were officially discontinued in Woodgrain.

Dunning Industries wasn’t the only company that produced lamps using Breyer models, just the best known. I have other ads, and other mail-order catalogs that feature a wide assortment of lamps from the early 1960s through the early 1990s. Most of these other manufacturers, though, used common, off-the-shelf models. While they do certainly have some appeal - especially to fans of whatever mold they happen to feature - they don’t have quite the same mysterious, romantic cachet as the Ranchcraft Woodgrains.


Anonymous said...

I have a lamp that certainly LOOKS like a Ranch Craft made with two woodgrain Shetland Ponies. Complete with the burlap shade. :-)

Des Corbett

Chester's Mom said...

Amazingly, a gentleman where I work has a woodgrain buffalo lamp WITH original shade in his work cubicle! He is not a Breyer collector at all.... he collects western style memorabilia and got it for its motif. I keep trying to talk him out of it.

Beth Patterson