Breyer Beginnings...#57 Western Horse

Breyer Beginnings...#57 Western Horse

 

What does a mantle clock and the now-defunct Woolworth’s have to do with Breyer horses? If it weren’t for an order to the Breyer Molding Company for a small western-style horse to adorn a mantle clock sold at Woolworth’s in 1950, there would be no Breyer horses today. Known as the #57 Western Horse, the first ever Breyer model horse set the stage for what would become a world-renowned model horse empire.

Prior to old #57, Breyer was simply a plastic molding manufacturer. Using cellulose acetate, ceramics and other materials, Breyer Molding Company made a variety of commissioned molds for other businesses. The overwhelming popularity of the single Breyer horse model introduced in 1950 launched an entirely new focus for the business. Breyer Molding Company became Breyer Animal Creations, maker of more than 300 different model horse lines and model styles, thanks to intense public interest in #57. Production of the original #57 model continued, in various incarnations, well into the 90s.

The original #57 Western Horse was nothing spectacular, compared to the modern models. Standing at rigid attention, the model did display a remarkable amount of detail. Models produced prior to 1970 are typically glossy, traditional-colored palominos, whereas post-1970 models are typically more matte finished. Black models (#58 Western Horse) were produced in the later part of the 1950s, as well as models with felt saddle blankets (#59 Western Horse.) The #55 Western Horse, produced from the mid-1950s until the mid-1970s featured black pintos with black saddles, white mains and black tails with white tips. Few original Woolworth’s mantle clocks are still circulating, while the solo Breyer #57s are easier to find.