Monday, January 24, 2011

Update on the Mystery Horses

Since the initial Mystery Horses post, I've continued to dig up the information. Here are corrections and tasty new trivia to compliment the previous post. Fun stuff happens when you do your own legwork! Photos are by me, often taken "in the wild", unless otherwise noted.

Here is a Lane Puma Planter, mold base inscribed for the copyright year of 1960. Note that the airbrushed technique, palette, and finish are similar to the supposedly "Mexican" factory finish on the Lane Running Horse.

The Puma's finish and complete base together supports the idea that these horses were authentic Lane production pieces, not Mexican knock-offs. The factory's reason for removing the horses' base undersides, and changing the decoration to "natural", is up for speculation.
Updated 1/18/12: The Natural colourway has been found on the earlier, larger first version of this horse mold,  independent of the mold edit.

Here are better photographs of the OF Lane Rearing Facing Left horse, courtesy of collector Arlene Soderlund:

An odd piece turned up on eBay, and is the subject of mild disagreement among ceramic horse collectors. This horse planter is thought to be a Lane piece; it was produced in both this color and a shaded black. The mold has such an oddly familiar look to it. Do you see it? It looks like a pottery designer (not Maureen Love) turned her Lane Rearing Facing Left (leg-out) horse horizontal, and hacked at him until he ran. Photo from eBay:

Why on Earth would this composition leap to mind? It would, if you saw your competitor, Beauceware, selling these like hotcakes for the previous decade. Note the differences in the neck, the negative space in the tail, the overall refinement, etc. The Beauceware piece dates from 1952, whereas Maureen sculpted for Lane in the 1960's.

I would not call this a Maureen Love sculpture anymore; it is "derived from", at best, and that is generous.

A reminder about values on these Mystery Horses: see the earlier post. They are only worth what other collectors are willing to pay. Chances are, if you do find one, you'll grow so fond of its quirky self that you'll hesitate to sell it.

Under the Hobby Molds heading of the previous Mystery entry, both of these styles of Facing Left Rearing "Leg Out" horse are hobby molds.
Update 1/18/12: They were both also manufactured in OF finishes! 

They were produced by two different manufacturers. The white bisque on the left is considered the more authentic of the two because it matches the Lane model.
Update 1/18/12: The white bisque one does not exactly match the first version of the Lane 239 mold. The P-159 has added fine hair detail in the mane and tail.

It was made by Provincial Molds. This horse comes out of a two-part mold, but the left hind leg is an add-on, poured in the margin. It is mold #P-159, although another online source calls it "PO159". It also had an accessory mold for a unicorn horn and Pegasus wings, #P-159A. Please note that the other items, including the horse's accessories, were not designed by Maureen Love. Vintage Provincial mold catalog image:

I am still seeking information on how and when Provincial acquired this mold copyright from Lane. It is possible that this was done without Lane's knowledge. There was a lot of "bastardization" between pottery companies. Note that Provincial's P-434 above looks an awful (pun intended) lot like the Kimple #2950 hobby mold.

This brings us to the other version hobby mold. The brown glaze is not an OF finish, it is a hobbyist-glazed one-off from the second version.
Update 1/18/12: Wrong, it is an OF finish. This mold was both OF and available to hobbyists.

In this sense, hobbyist refers to a hobby mold user, not a fancier of the model horse hobby. This mold, by an unknown manufacturer, has a much taller base, more "ferns" added to the support and base, and the left hind leg is not an add-on. As best I can tell from the mold seams, it came out of a four-piece mold, and still sacrificed the stallion's genitalia. The overall sculpture is thicker, lacking detail, and there are odd rings around the neck. This gives it an elongated and thickened look. Here is another hobbyist-glazed one-off of this second version:

And, yet another, with a hand for scale against the tall base:

As if just to show us that every answer leads to yet more questions, this mutation turned up online. It looks like the Provincial Molds' P-159 "leg-out" horse's forelegs were altered to a pose matching the Lane Facing Right Rearing horse. It also looks like something unfortunate happened to his jaw. Google coughed this up in Images without a working source page, so credit for this photo is unknown at this time.
Updated 1/18/12: This is OF mold #1156.

For those interested in the monumental-sized Large Rearing Facing Right horse, get ready to do a little happy dance. He is known as the Bil-Mar #524 Large Rearing Horse. This enormous hobby mold is still in production and available to order. This means that it is not as rare as previously estimated by its scarcity "in the wild". However, weighing in at 100lbs and birthing greenware that measures 26.5 x 20" long, this plaster ceramic hobby mold is not for the timid. Convenient to West Coast potters, Macky Molds produces and sells the Bil-Mar #524 Large Rearing Horse. Macky has acquired rights to produce many vintage hobby molds. However, all potters may acquire the same mold brand new, but from a dealer at a discount (plus shipping, no store pick-ups). Here is the adorable Bil-Mar catalog photo of him in an ambitious Appaloosa pattern. He looks so small here!

I can't wait to see what today's custom glaze artists will do with this monster! Although I doubt this is the end of my investigation of the history and identities of the Mystery horses, I do have a happy ending for now. I am acquiring some of these hobby molds to glaze, too!

If you have photographs of any of the mold variants, or a Lane catalog, I'd love to see them and share them in a future installment.


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  1. I purchased a Provincial mold # P-159 Pegasus recently. It has an awesome turquoise glaze which is what attracted me to it. Are these molds still available today? I'm just wondering the age of my piece. I'd love to sharte a photo with you if possible.

  2. I have only found the Provincial rearing mold used. Unless the hobbyist ceramist inscribed a date on your model, it would be tough to date your piece. My email is on my web site:

  3. Apparently, an Italian pottery got a hold of the large Rearing Mold and is selling them as OFs on eBay:

    White gloss with gold accents, how appropriate to the history! The odd thing is that they say it's 30" tall, whereas the hobby mold is 26" tall. The Italian also has what appear to be edited ears.