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A Beginner’s Guide to Model Horse Collecting

Saturday, June 20, 2009 @ 10:06 AM Karen Hood

by Terry McNamee
Source: Suite 101

The model horse hobby is increasing every day among people of all ages. For newcomers to the hobby, here’s a crash course on the most popular types of collectible models.

It’s easy for a new model horse collector to be mystified by all the different kinds of horses available. Fortunately, there are models to suit everyone’s taste, even some in wild decorator colours and designs. They come in resin, plastic, china, porcelain, ceramic and metal. They can be hand made, mass produced, made in a factory or custom cast by an artist. Some are original sculptures. This article features readily available plastic and ceramic models.

Plastic Model Horses

The most popular collector models, made by Breyer of New Jersey, come in a huge choice of molds and colours. The five size categories range from one inch to over eight inches tall. Prices vary, mostly depending on size. They start at under $5, but some “Special Run” (limited production) horses can run well over $100 each. This company also sells many accessories, including riders, tack and jumps, and occasionally offers porcelain horses, too. They are readily available and appeal to all ages.

The Peter Stone Company of Indiana makes a variety of horses, mostly in limited numbers and therefore more expensive. This company has far fewer molds, but does a wide selection of colours on each mold. They come in three sizes, with the largest being the same scale as the large Breyers. They range from about $5 for small ones to over $100. Higher priced one-of-a-kind versions are offered regularly at auction.

The Schleich and Safari horses from Germany are made of a rubber-like substance. Most of the earlier molds are toys, but the later designs are quite collectible. They are very inexpensive and average about four or five inches tall. They are especially popular with younger collectors, since they are durable and come with many accessories.

American-made Hartland horses are seldom seen at model horse shows today, as they are less realistic, but they have a special charm. There are many molds and sizes and a good selection of matching riders. Older ones in mint condition often sell for high prices to Hartland collectors.

China, Ceramic and Porcelain Horses

Beswicks from England cost anywhere from $50 for a small brown foal to over $2,000 for a rare mold or colour. They were made for several decades and in many sizes and breeds. They are relatively sturdy for a breakable model, and easy to find in mint condition. Some carried the Royal Doulton mark. Brown is least expensive, but the price goes up for dapple grey and Palomino. The most expensive and rare are rocking horse grey, chestnut and blue.

Hagen-Renaker of California made beautiful, inexpensive ceramic horses in the 1950s through the 1970s. Unfortunately, they broke very easily. As a result, unbroken horses from this period are expensive. A large “Designer’s Workshop” horse in mint condition can go for hundreds of dollars today, quite a jump from its original price of about $5! Hagen-Renaker is still making horses today, but mostly in miniature sizes.

The Lakeshore Collection in Illinois specializes in porcelain horses slightly smaller than a large Breyer. They are made with an extremely durable finish, and come in just five molds: Arabian, Haflinger, Morgan, cantering pony and Thoroughbred. They average around $100 each and are very popular with model showers. This company also offers a costlier Art of Fire line of raku decorator horses. These are unlike anything else on the market, and each one is unique.

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