I swear I didn't realize, when I was choosing these photos, that they were taken 40 years ago, down to the month. But on the backs it clearly shows: 2-83. (Where does the time go??!!) I wanted to revisit this oldest TSII draft harness, which I remember with great fondness (not counting the truly primordial strap-goods outfits I made for my dapple grey Clydes -- more on those later!). I apologize for perpetual slowness in blogging, so sorry. I found and scanned 4 photographs of this old harness and then went and scanned the Scrapbook page about it, with its 2 more. I have always loved this mare, one of my earliest Special Runs. Her name is Queenie.
According to her registry card, Queenie arrived in July of 1979. This was only a month after I'd officially opened my mail-order tack shop, the Timaru Star II. Back then, Breyer was just venturing into the waters of Special Runs. The models were available through the mail from select dealers. You wrote a letter, enclosed a check and snail-mailed your missive off into the void -- Bentley's was the dealer for this particular horse. The living hands of the Post Offal network carried your order, and the awareness that Chicago was 3 days away from Boulder was common knowledge. (I have a memory of talking to Peter Stone at some live show in the early 80s, asking for the dapple grey Clyde Foal, to go with the Stallion and Mare. Needless to say, that foal appeared -- ! though not in the numbers we would have preferred. Queenie has her baby still.)
I don't have much explanation for why these photos are such different colors, though I've tried hard with PhotoShop to bring them into the 21st C. I do know this reddish concrete is the south-facing foundation of my Boulder CO home. The dead grass supports the evidence it was February,... it's a slight mystery why there wasn't any snow.
The hames, tugs, large gold buckles and harness brasses found on this ancestral harness were all imported from England, manufactured by Lenham Pottery. At the time I was not importing them myself, but getting them from suppliers who did; Cheryl Albelson's Heather Hills Miniatures was one such. I knew of no American company who made these things. The ribbons I did myself, using thin wire. The cart was also a sort of import; it was made by the German toy company Steha. It had appeared in our local toy store with a flocked bay horse on rollers and a fantastic riveted plastic harness -- a lure irresistible to me. Bagging that cart took me what felt like a year of saving, planning and begging my parents for a supreme gift. I still have it -- though over the years both shafts broke and I mended them with sheet metal splints and lots of string wrappings. The green pinstripes, faintly visible, I put on myself with drafting-class graphic tape.
I am pretty sure these two photos were taken on the south lawn of our Boulder house. I can just barely remember the evergreens in the background.
There were other harnesses being made at this time; Queenie's did not exist in a vacuum. I was making Fine and Pleasure Harness, and I'd gotten hold of another cart, made by Ken and Pam Messman, in c. 1979. But Queenie's was the first complete Draft harness that I made and kept. On hers I mastered the padded collar; it was sewn out of very thin leather and stuffed with sheep's wool. The bells, visible in the center of the saddle, were what is called 'camel bells,' hung from a wire frame. I must have gotten those in an early (if not my first) trip to the Tucson Gem Show.
In February of 1983 the Timaru Star II model tack shop had been a going concern for almost 5 years, and I'd learned how to make harness. Still, draft harness was a big challenge. Alongside silver Parade sets, they were the most expensive pieces on the pricelist. These photos were taken on the front planter.
"Queenie's Harness -- a landmark. Probably made over the winter of 1982-1983. Photo dated 2-83. Brasses from Cheryl Abelson; buckles and hames gotten through Liz Bouras. The chest drop, saddle, collar & backdrop are still in existence --- 1992"
Hopefully in the future I can share more pages from this Scrapbook.