History of the Model Breyer Horses | TheFencePost.com

History of the Model Breyer Horses

Shirley Kelly
Glade Park, Colo.

In 1950, a Chicago-based plastics manufacturing company called the Breyer Molding Company, owned by Sam Stone and his partner Charles Schiff, produced its first model horse, the No. 57 Western Horse. The western-dressed model was designed for a mantelpiece clock, but their customer was unable to cover the molding expenses and the Breyer retained the rights of the mold. The interest in the western model horse was big enough for production and next was born “Breyer Animals Creations.” They sold their Breyer Model Horses to individual Western Stores. In 1984 the Breyer company was purchased by Reeves International, a New Jersey based company. Luckily Reeves continued the fine Breyer tradition of quality instead of changing the already winning formula. 

And of course there were the artist. Their contributions form the heart of the Breyer Tradition. The creation of Breyer models is an art form. Capturing the magic and spirit of living creatures in clay is the richest expression of that art and has become a subculture of collecting and horse-related activity.

Among all the artists who have created Breyer models over the decades, Chris Hess stands out as the most prolific and productive. He created well over 100 Breyer models, starting with The Western Horse. Chris’s talents were unique. He was the only one who could take an idea, draft it on paper, sculpt the model, make patterns, cast the mold, and assemble it into a working tool for plastic injection molding.

Chris is gone now, but we need to mention two other craftsmen from the early days, Paul Olson and Gordon Johnson. These men’s artistry was essential to the life of Breyer. After the artists, the clay model is then used to create a steel mold. Cellulose acetate pellets (a hard plastic) are melted and injected into the steel molds under high pressure before being cooled and assembled. Finally, the horses are airbrushed and finishing touches such as “eye whites” and pink nostrils are applied by hand. Although the Breyer horse creation process is long and arduous, the end result is a model of superior quality.

Breyer may be best known for its model horses, but it also creates a variety of other animals, such as elk, cattle, deer and dogs.

Breyer model horses have a very large and passionate following – collectors all over the world enthusiastically scramble to add limited and annual editions to their collections. In fact their following of collections is so great that Breyer/Reeves International puts out a bi-monthly magazine dedicated to model horses: Just A Horse magazine.

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Collectors have formed Breyer-themed clubs to gather with like-minded individuals. In addition, there are annual gatherings and conventions that are centered around the Breyer horses, probably the most grand of which is BreyerFest, held in Kentucky each summer. BreyerFest is a week-long event where people can meet some of the artists behind these collectible horses, watch live horse shows, see some of the real horses that inspired Breyer molds and much, much more.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Marilyn Kroft of Glade Park, Colo., for showing me her wonderful collection of these horses and giving me the inspiration to write this article.

In 1950, a Chicago-based plastics manufacturing company called the Breyer Molding Company, owned by Sam Stone and his partner Charles Schiff, produced its first model horse, the No. 57 Western Horse. The western-dressed model was designed for a mantelpiece clock, but their customer was unable to cover the molding expenses and the Breyer retained the rights of the mold. The interest in the western model horse was big enough for production and next was born “Breyer Animals Creations.” They sold their Breyer Model Horses to individual Western Stores. In 1984 the Breyer company was purchased by Reeves International, a New Jersey based company. Luckily Reeves continued the fine Breyer tradition of quality instead of changing the already winning formula. 

And of course there were the artist. Their contributions form the heart of the Breyer Tradition. The creation of Breyer models is an art form. Capturing the magic and spirit of living creatures in clay is the richest expression of that art and has become a subculture of collecting and horse-related activity.

Among all the artists who have created Breyer models over the decades, Chris Hess stands out as the most prolific and productive. He created well over 100 Breyer models, starting with The Western Horse. Chris’s talents were unique. He was the only one who could take an idea, draft it on paper, sculpt the model, make patterns, cast the mold, and assemble it into a working tool for plastic injection molding.

Chris is gone now, but we need to mention two other craftsmen from the early days, Paul Olson and Gordon Johnson. These men’s artistry was essential to the life of Breyer. After the artists, the clay model is then used to create a steel mold. Cellulose acetate pellets (a hard plastic) are melted and injected into the steel molds under high pressure before being cooled and assembled. Finally, the horses are airbrushed and finishing touches such as “eye whites” and pink nostrils are applied by hand. Although the Breyer horse creation process is long and arduous, the end result is a model of superior quality.

Breyer may be best known for its model horses, but it also creates a variety of other animals, such as elk, cattle, deer and dogs.

Breyer model horses have a very large and passionate following – collectors all over the world enthusiastically scramble to add limited and annual editions to their collections. In fact their following of collections is so great that Breyer/Reeves International puts out a bi-monthly magazine dedicated to model horses: Just A Horse magazine.

Collectors have formed Breyer-themed clubs to gather with like-minded individuals. In addition, there are annual gatherings and conventions that are centered around the Breyer horses, probably the most grand of which is BreyerFest, held in Kentucky each summer. BreyerFest is a week-long event where people can meet some of the artists behind these collectible horses, watch live horse shows, see some of the real horses that inspired Breyer molds and much, much more.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Marilyn Kroft of Glade Park, Colo., for showing me her wonderful collection of these horses and giving me the inspiration to write this article.

In 1950, a Chicago-based plastics manufacturing company called the Breyer Molding Company, owned by Sam Stone and his partner Charles Schiff, produced its first model horse, the No. 57 Western Horse. The western-dressed model was designed for a mantelpiece clock, but their customer was unable to cover the molding expenses and the Breyer retained the rights of the mold. The interest in the western model horse was big enough for production and next was born “Breyer Animals Creations.” They sold their Breyer Model Horses to individual Western Stores. In 1984 the Breyer company was purchased by Reeves International, a New Jersey based company. Luckily Reeves continued the fine Breyer tradition of quality instead of changing the already winning formula. 

And of course there were the artist. Their contributions form the heart of the Breyer Tradition. The creation of Breyer models is an art form. Capturing the magic and spirit of living creatures in clay is the richest expression of that art and has become a subculture of collecting and horse-related activity.

Among all the artists who have created Breyer models over the decades, Chris Hess stands out as the most prolific and productive. He created well over 100 Breyer models, starting with The Western Horse. Chris’s talents were unique. He was the only one who could take an idea, draft it on paper, sculpt the model, make patterns, cast the mold, and assemble it into a working tool for plastic injection molding.

Chris is gone now, but we need to mention two other craftsmen from the early days, Paul Olson and Gordon Johnson. These men’s artistry was essential to the life of Breyer. After the artists, the clay model is then used to create a steel mold. Cellulose acetate pellets (a hard plastic) are melted and injected into the steel molds under high pressure before being cooled and assembled. Finally, the horses are airbrushed and finishing touches such as “eye whites” and pink nostrils are applied by hand. Although the Breyer horse creation process is long and arduous, the end result is a model of superior quality.

Breyer may be best known for its model horses, but it also creates a variety of other animals, such as elk, cattle, deer and dogs.

Breyer model horses have a very large and passionate following – collectors all over the world enthusiastically scramble to add limited and annual editions to their collections. In fact their following of collections is so great that Breyer/Reeves International puts out a bi-monthly magazine dedicated to model horses: Just A Horse magazine.

Collectors have formed Breyer-themed clubs to gather with like-minded individuals. In addition, there are annual gatherings and conventions that are centered around the Breyer horses, probably the most grand of which is BreyerFest, held in Kentucky each summer. BreyerFest is a week-long event where people can meet some of the artists behind these collectible horses, watch live horse shows, see some of the real horses that inspired Breyer molds and much, much more.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Marilyn Kroft of Glade Park, Colo., for showing me her wonderful collection of these horses and giving me the inspiration to write this article.