While in Ohio for the Pug dog national specialty show last week, we took a little time to visit the area antique malls. I was immediately drawn to a booth with vintage ceramics. As I walked in, the booth owner happened to be there, and she asked what I was looking for... I mentioned California pottery, and then we started talking HR. At the other end of her booth, she had displays of current HR miniatures and Specialties. We knew the same factory people, the factory history, and yet she was not active on the net nor in the collector community. It was a refreshing surprise to meet a fellow collector while traveling.
She said, "I believe that they are the best American [ceramics] for the the price."
Now, I am in town for the country's largest Pug show... I have just met an HR fan from way back... and I look at the display to my right, and there are two matching HR Pug miniature variants! Of course, I brought them home to share a shelf with my regular ones. Here is the official HR site's current image of their dogs (what they should look like).
Model # A-3316 Mama Pug, sculpted by Kathleen Ellis
The lighter model would be called an "apricot fawn" in the Pug fancy. The factory term is "tan". This model was purchased the season the mold premiered, Spring 2000. This is what they should all look like.
The variant dark model, purchased in OH, would be called "smutty fawn" in the fancy. It is considered a fault in the breed; the clear fawn is a correct color. On the plus side, this one has plenty of contrast, so the face mask and mold details are visible.
Butts show the true slip color underneath. Both are poured in the tan slip.
Model # A-3317 Baby Pug, sculpted by Kathleen Ellis
The lighter one was purchased at the same time, from the same dealer, as the lighter Mama. The baby would be called just fawn (no apricot shading), with a little saddle of smutty shading on the back. It is not a true "trace" (dorsal stripe) because it is so wide. This saddle does occur in real Pugs. A distinct, narrow trace is one of the breed standard markings in fawns.
The darker variant puppy also appears to be poured in slighter darker batch of the tan slip, as it is even darker in slip color than its corresponding Mama. Tinted slip batches are known to vary in other HRs. The pencil numeral "5" on the cards of the darker ones is the dealer's mall booth number, not of factory significance.
In terms of horse collecting, these two variants are so starkly different that one would be called buckskin and the other a dark bay. I do not know if she has more variant Pugs in stock. I seem to have lost her personal business card on my travels, but this is the antique mall's contact information. Ask for Nancy of booth number 5.
Edit May 2013: I found Nancy's business card. Her business is "Echo's Past" Antiques and Collectibles, Nancy Ventker, shop phone (513) 554-1919.
And that is my short, curly Pug tale. Happy collecting!