Easy-peasy…if you’ve got the cash, you can find the horse! Start with Ebay…if you can’t find one there you could try the Model Horse Sales Pages, make a posting on one of dozens of dedicated Facebook pages, or message boards, or chat rooms (do they still have those?), or maybe even Craigslist.
It might take you a couple hours, or worse, a couple days, but you’ll find that elusive plastic treasure...it’s almost a guarantee. But wait…we didn’t have any of those things in 1989. The internet as we know it today existed only in the imaginations of people who are now much richer than I’ll ever be.
Those of you who are children of the 1980s and earlier know what I’m getting at…the internet has changed the face of Breyer horse collecting forever. It has influenced values, changed our perceptions of what is truly rare, and produced an entire generation of kids and young adults who have no idea what an LSASE is.
I received my first Breyer for my 11th birthday in 1987, a gift which started a life-long fascination with and at times inexplicable desire to purchase and prominently display horse-shaped hunks of plastic. I had a favorite store I purchased the bulk of my early collection from; an IGA/Ben Franklin store that had an entire back wall filled with glorious horses formed from hard, odoriferous, tenite plastic! I’d happily plunk down two weeks of hard-earned allowance to take home one more horse to add to my slowly growing collection.
The catalogs introduced me to models I’d never seen before. Occasionally, I’d find a discontinued model still on the store shelf. With trembling fingers I’d grab the rarity and hold it close, protecting it from the imaginary prying, covetous eyes of fellow shoppers. In my young mind finding new in box models with catalogs as far back as 1984 was like finding a rare antique in a flea market. The “old” catalogs were a highly prized part of my collection.
The pre-internet era search started in the classified section of JAH magazine. There were dozens of tiny classified ads with lists of model numbers for sale. No prices, no descriptions aside from the 1-4 rating scale many collectors used. Some ads simply said “Entire collection dispersal. Send LSASE for list” followed by an address. Those ads were my favorite, to get a list of models for sale in the mail was like stumbling into a secret store with a nearly inexhaustible supply of never-before-seen models!
Box catalogs in hand, I scoured the sales lists for the models I was looking for. If I found one I liked I could call and ask if it was still available (if a phone number was given),
or I would write down the model I wanted on a piece of paper, put it and a check for the correct amount into an envelope, stick it in the mail and hope that the model would show up on my doorstep in a few weeks’ time. Sometimes, the check would come back with a note explaining the model had been sold. Luckily, I never ran across a dishonest seller who simply cashed my check without sending a model.
Woodgrain FAS +3 (few rubs) $350
Gold Florentine Running Foal +2 (chipped ear, rubs) $2500
1990 Commemorative Edition (like new) $1500
I could only dream of such riches to add to my collection!
Some of you may be eyeing those prices and wondering what happened? How could anyone ask those prices? Especially over 25 years ago?
Enter: the internet
Yes, the internet. Ebay taught us that our uber-rare models were not as rare as we thought they were. As soon as the Woodgrains hit Ebay and sold for hundreds of dollars each, dozens more came out of the wood work (pardon the pun) – supply soon surpassed demand and drove the prices down to never before seen lows! I got mine in 2002 for $25.
The “ultra-valuable” Limited and Commemorative Editions? Yup…nope. You can’t even get your money back out of those anymore. I’d seen the 1987 Limited Edition “Precipitado Sin Par” on a sales list for over $100 and therefore was tickled pink paisley plaid when I found the same model still on a store shelf in 1989 and snatched it up for a measly (but expensive for the time) $24. That Commemorative Edition ASB weanling from 1990? I saw that on a sales list for $1500 in the early 1990s. Picked it up at Breyerfest a few years ago for $20.
Not as much as in the 1980s but still pricey. Black point Proud Arabian Family? Still rare but you can find them as well. Pre-internet you’d better be prepared to pony up several hundred dollars each (yeah...no pun intended). Now, less than half that, perhaps much less depending on the day and your bidding competition.
Oh, and for those of you under the age of 25 who defied the odds and stayed with me all the way through this long post: an LSASE is a Long Self Addressed Stamped Envelope. That means you write your address on a business-sized envelope, put a stamp (or two) on it, fold it up and put it in another envelope and mail it to the address you want to get a sales list from.
Young collector, old collector, or somewhere in between…happy collecting and appreciate the benefits of living in the age of instant gratification.