Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Woodgrains and Rarity

All Woodgrains are not created equal: all are scarce, but some are more scarce than others. And defining what is rare, and what is common, isn’t as simple as you might think.

Here’s a good example: the apparent popularity and longevity of the Ranchcraft Woodgrain Running Mare and Foal Lamp may have skewed our perception of the original Mare and Foal’s rarity. The original, prelamp Woodgrain Running Mare and Foal were made for a relatively brief period of time: from 1962 through 1965, a year or so less than much more desirable pieces such as the Rearing Mustang or Five-Gaiter.

An awfully high percentage of Woodgrain Running Mares and Foal I’ve seen for sale are former lamp pieces: their drill holes and semi-gloss finishes are usually a dead giveaway. True, regular run pre-lamp Woodgrain Running Mares and Foals are fairly scarce, and surprisingly don’t command the kind of prices that that kind of rarity usually brings.

Part of it is the sex appeal: the placid, sweet Running Mare and Foal don’t elicit the same visceral response the wild and studly Mustang does. The fan club for these pieces just isn’t that large. They’re not so rare - like the original regular run Buckskins - that their very elusiveness creates demand, either. They’re not the kind of things a "high spot" collector would seek out.

And the model horse market, at this moment and in this economy, seems to be driven primarily by a small coterie of "high spot" collectors. "High spot" is a term I’ve borrowed from the world of book collecting; it refers to collectors who specialize exclusively on rare, expensive and historically significant pieces, as opposed to collectors who seek to build a more well-rounded or representative collection.

True "high spot" Woodgrains would be items like the Old Mold Mare and Foal, Elephant, and Fury - items so rare and so scarce that virtually no documentation exists for them. The Old Mold Mare and Foal, Elephant, and Fury all easily fetch four-digit figures - and except for the Old Mold Mare’s cameo in the 1960 Montgomery Wards Christmas Catalog, there is a total absence of evidence for their existence, other than, you know, their actual existence.

The Old Mold Mare and Foal were regular run items, albeit extremely short-term ones, made in one or two batches before the mold switchover ca. 1959-60. (Until recently, it was speculated that the Woodgrain Old Mold Foal didn’t even exist, but we know better, now.) Others, such as the Buffalo and Polled Hereford Bull, appear to be special run exclusives for Dunning Industries’ Ranchcraft Lamp line.

But for pieces such as the Elephant and the Fury, I have no idea. My guess would be that they were extremely short-term regular runs, a la the Buckskin Running Mare and Foal, but that’s pure speculation on my part. Until more evidence surfaces, that’s all we have at this point.


Unknown said...

ok Im just learning here so bear with me.. the picture you posted looks like a pam to me? can you explain who is the old mold mare ? what is her difference to a pam? Id love to know in case I run across one someday!
Rebecca Turner

ANDREA said...

Yes, the PAM is/was the Old Mold Mare. For the differences between the two, check out one of my earliest posts, called "Three Old Ladies."

SolitaireMare said...

How about the woodgrain Quarter Horse? (the one with the molded on halter who was sold in buckskin for a bunch of years back in the 70's) Is there any value in that one? He's the only woodie I've ever owned.

Anonymous said...

Hey there :) I know I'm ressurecting a really old blog post, but I saw this and thought it was an interesting coincidence. My best friend has a woodgrain PAM (old mold, I'm guessing)that used to be her mother's. I distinctly remember it from when she came over to 'play' Breyers back when we were younger. I'm not sure of the condition it's in, but I remember thinking that the people at Breyer must be awfully clueless, because of course real horses don't look like wood! That's neat (and a little sad/scary!) that her old arab model turned out to be decidedly rare and valuable :D

P.S. She also has a woodgrain 'Racehorse'. Not sure if that's quite as rare though.

Anonymous said...

hi, i think i may have a rare bryer but im not so sure email me at if you want a pic. im pretty sure it is the woodgrain rearing mustang. -thx maya

Unknown said...

I think I may have an old mild mare wood grain model, how do I post a pic. to show and be told other wise?