Saturday, June 28, 2014

Birthday Week - Footnotes: Model Mementos - Breyer Souvenirs

From time to time Breyers pop up in various gift shops and tourist traps promoting a particular region or attraction. These models feature non-factory modifications such as stickers or even simple dioramas to link them with the area. I have a couple of souvenir animals in my collection, but I've yet to be lucky enough to come across any of the Stablemates.

The owners of this first batch of models don't know much about them beyond the fact they obviously hail from Kentucky - as stated by their bases.

Models and pictures owned by Deb Walsmith and used here by permission.

The models are all original finish, regular run bays, but the facial markings and eye-whites have been painted on after leaving the factory. The bases seem to be painted wood with felt bottoms and a plush "pasture" onto which the model(s) and, in some cases, accessories are affixed.

Models and pictures owned by Shannon Hayden and used here by permission.

Here we have several views of a Thoroughbred Standing Foal, unlike the Louisville foal above, this one is from Lexington.

While the origins of the Kentucky models remain rather mysterious, the Morgans from Randolph Center, Vermont are very well documented - by their creator, Jill O’Connor!

I'll let her tell about it in her own words:

Picture owned by Jill O'Connor and used here by permission.
"Growing up in the heart of Morgan country – Randolph Center, Vermont – I have always been surrounded by Morgan Horses. Every local horse crazy girl knew the story of Justin Morgan and his famous colt and we all knew where Justin (the man’s) grave is located in the local cemetery. This provided me with an idea for a unique souvenir for my family’s country store."32
Picture owned by Jill O'Connor and used here by permission.
"In the fall of 1987 I started gathering supplies to create a replica of what would probably have been a common sight in the area – a Morgan stallion waiting by a stone wall fence. I went to some of the areas that Justin Morgan and his horse Figure were said to have visited – the mile stretch of road where he is said to have raced, the local blacksmith shop and the grave site in Tunbridge, VT where Figure is said to have passed. The small stones and fine dirt that I gathered were turned into stone walls and a “road” for a Breyer SM Morgan Stallion to stand on. I made halters and leads for each model and attached them to a “stone” post, made of wood painted to look like the slate posts that are common in the area."32
Picture owned by Jill O'Connor and used here by permission.
"An article about my souvenir was written up in Just About Horses in the July/Aug. 1988 issue (vol. 15, #3)"32

How cool is that? If Jill ever starts producing her souvenir Morgans again, I know I'll be fighting my way to the head of that line. :)

Many thanks to Deb Walsmith, Shannon Hayden, and Jill O'Connor for generously contributing pictures from their collections for this post!

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