Thursday, April 22, 2021

All Together Now: "Parade Morgan" Bookends by Gladys Brown Edwards

Researching equine history from the 1940s and 1950s reminds me that, as I've said before, Southern California was a very "horsey" place back then.  It always pleases, but never surprises, me to discover previously unknown connections between the horses and the people who lived in the area. And it's not uncommon (since I look for them) for me to uncover details of model horse history as well. The story of the Parade Morgan bookends illustrates one of those connections. 

When my dear friend Linda passed away last fall, I became the new owner of her set of Morgan horse bookends designed by Gladys Brown Edwards. Linda and her father had bred, raised, and shown Morgans in Galesburg, Illinois in the 1950s-60s, and I think it is safe to say that even though she loved pretty much all things equine, the Morgan was her favorite breed.

Fortunately for equine historians (and model horse lovers), GBE and her husband Cecil Edwards saved the correspondence relating to the origins of this handsome set of bookends.  The letters are in the Cecil and Gladys Brown Edwards collection at the W. K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library at Cal Poly Pomona. 

Owning a set of the bookends gave me a chance to review my notes on their creation, which show a direct connection between the artist and another Morgan horse lover who also lived in Southern California in the post-World War II era. 

One of the letters is from Keith L. Morse, Secretary-Treasurer of the Morgan Horse Association of the West. It's dated October 26, 1946, and is addressed to Cecil, thanking him for sending the club one of the bookends that Gladys had designed. 

Morse's letter identifies the inspiration for the headstudy as the Morgan stallion Abbott, a dark chestnut horse foaled in 1930, bred by the USDA in Vermont.  Here's a picture of him. 

The Morgan Horse Association of the West had been organized in the summer of 1945, and had about 75 or more active members by 1947, according to an article in the February 1947 edition of The Morgan Horse magazine. The group's membership varied "from the owners of one or two Morgan saddle horses and small breeders to breeders of large numbers."

The "Parade Morgan" bookends were advertised in horse publications during the late 1940s.

It's no wonder they were, and still are, prized by collectors. The level of detail is amazing.

However, the Morgan horse bookend was not the first connection between Merle Little and Gladys Brown. Merle had organized all the equestrian activities for the  May 1933 Pioneer Day parade and horse show in the city of Monrovia, right up the road from Pomona; the Monrovia News-Post documented his trip to the Kellogg Ranch to recruit horses and riders for the events.  

Monrovia News-Post, 9 May 1933

Merle was successful in his efforts; one of the riders who participated in Pioneer Day was Miss Gladys Brown, riding the Kellogg Arabian mare Valencia.

Monrovia News-Post, 18 May 1933

Merle himself won an award as a participant in the parade, riding one of his well-known pinto horses with a silver-mounted saddle. 

Kellogg Ranch-related sidebar: The Azusa Boy Scouts group also participated in the 1933 Pioneer Day parade, led by young Hugo de Groot riding the Welsh Pony *Kilhendre Celtic Silverlight, a gift from W. K. Kellogg to the Scout troop in 1928. Kellogg and his wife had received the pony as a gift from English Arabian horse breeder Judith Blunt-Lytton, better known as Lady Wentworth. Kellogg imported many of his best-known Arabian horses from her Crabbet Stud. 

W. K. Kellogg gave the Welsh Pony *Silverlight to a local Boy Scout troop.

Back to the bookends: A copy of another letter in the collection at WKKAHL is dated 9 January 1949, from Cecil Edwards to The Morgan Horse Magazine in Woodstock, Vermont. In it he mentions that the magazine had one of Gladys' Morgan bookends in its offices, and that the Morgan Horse Association of the West used the bookends as trophies in their horse shows. 

Cecil's letter enclosed a photo of a pencil drawing by Gladys of an "ideal" Morgan stallion; it was a composite of several mostly unnamed Southern California Morgan sires
. Cecil noted, "A local horse, King Shoshone, owned by Mel Morse of Arcadia figured prominently in the drawing."

Morgan stallion King Shoshone

"Ideal Morgan Stallion" by Gladys Brown (Edwards)

With a very quick turnaround time, The Morgan Horse magazine featured the drawing on the cover of its February 1949 edition.

What interested me about this story was not just the endorsement of the "Parade Morgan" horse head bookends. It was also the name of the then-president of the Morgan Horse Association of the West, in the upper right-hand corner of the first letter. His name was Merle H. Little.

Hagen-Renaker model horse collectors may remember that Merle Little was the Monrovia/Duarte, California horse rancher who owned at least two (probably more, in my opinion) of the horses that artist Maureen Love used in the 1950s as inspiration for her equine designs for Hagen-Renaker, Inc.: Lippitt Morman and Forever Amber!

Hagen-Renaker "Lippet" ("Lippitt," misspelled) Morgan stallion

Hagen-Renaker "Forever Amber" Morgan mare

So we can make another connection in this story: We know from one of Gladys' letters at WKKAHL that she knew Maureen Love, and (obviously) so did Merle Little.

The world of the horse in the post-World War II era in Southern California was indeed small. And we can still see the ghosts of those human relationships in the model horse figurines and bookends on our shelves in the early twenty-first century. 

Here's a link to my blog post on Lippitt Morman:  

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

"Bring Tradin' Stock": the Model Horses of Equine Artist Hildred Goodwine

Equine artist and model horse collector Hildred Goodwine

In her 1999 book The Happy Horses of H. Goodwine, author Barbara Robinson gives a colorful and informative overview of the life and career of Arizona equine artist Hildred Goodwine (Hildred R. Goodwine-Phillips, 1918-1998). Hildred is best remembered as a painter of horses. In 1989, she was an Honoree of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. Countless images of Hildred's work were reproduced on greeting cards, stationery, gift wrap, postcards, and jigsaw puzzles by Leanin' Tree and other companies. Still other paintings that have never been reproduced are owned by private collectors; she also created murals for Wall Drug in South Dakota.

Robinson's book mentions that Hildred Goodwine also owned several hundred model horse figurines. What it doesn't say is that Hildred once participated in a large model horse event in Phoenix, created one-of-a-kind model horses out of Sculpey, and even looked into designing model horses for commercial release!

Let's get started by looking at some of Hildred's greeting card images.

Self-taught, Hildred painted horses of many breeds -- and no particular breed -- during her career.  When After her first husband, Jim, passed away in 1965, she supported herself and her children through her art.

Many people associate Hildred's art with Christmas card designs.

Hildred also produced cover art for magazines including Western Horseman and Appaloosa News.

Within the last few months I've been fortunate enough to acquire cards, letters, and photographs from the collections of two model horse collectors who knew and corresponded with Hildred in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Linda Kelly (later Linda Myron), who lived in Phoenix, AZ and Galesburg, IL and Nancy (Mongan) Falzone of Oregon, IL corresponded with Hildred. Over time, both of these avid model horse collectors traded for and purchased Hildred's paintings, Sculpey horse figurines, and commercially produced model horses by other artists.

In her book, Robinson mentions that Hildred had a large model horse collection. Nancy Falzone was gracious enough to let me acquire her collection of Hildred's notecards. With that collection were some photos of Hildred's model horses and a drop-dead-gorgeous large carousel horse.

These photos, taken sometime between the 1980s and early 1990s, are enough to make practically any vintage model horse enthusiast swoon.

Hildred's collection included Breyers, Beswicks, Hagen-Renakers,
vintage custom Breyers, and more

A closer view of one set of shelves. The second glass shelf
appears to have Britains, Ltd. horses.

Some of the lower shelves of Hildred's model horse collection.

In addition to the Breyers, Beswicks, and HRs,
I can also see Hartlands and a Thelwell Pony here.

Hildred's large carousel horse.

When my dear friend Linda (Kelly) Myron passed away in 2020, I was given her collection of correspondence with Hildred. In one of her notes to Linda, Hildred used an expression that I'm sure she got from Linda. It made me remember the early days of the organized model horse hobby, and that deserves some space here.

Linda and I were co-founders, along with Karen Pate, of the Valley of the Sun Model Horse Association in Phoenix -- ValSun for short. It was one of several regional groups of model horse collectors that sprang up around the country during the 1970s. We sought out new members by setting up booths full of model horses at local swap meets, through the lists of collectors that Breyer Model Horses used to distribute back then, and through hobby publications like the Model Horse Showers' Journal.

Linda was one of the kindest people the hobby ever knew. Small groups of ValSun members used to meet regularly at her apartment to talk and buy and sell and trade model horses. When Linda and I would talk on the phone, setting up another get-together, she would inevitably tell me to "bring tradin' stock!" These were model horses we were willing to trade for others. Each of us would set our available models on Linda's table, then we would sit around the table and stare and stare at the horses in total silence for minutes at a time, trying to guess what the other collector(s) would want in trade. (You could almost hear the theme music from "Jeopardy!" in the background. :) )
Linda was a huge admirer of Hildred Goodwine's art, and at some point the two connected. Linda visited Hildred on several occasions, even staying overnight in Hildred's trailer once with a couple of other ValSun members. Hildred even volunteered to help judge our big annual show in August 1979. Karen Pate recently sent me this copy of the show program.

ValSun 1979 show program. The artwork was by Nancy Strowger.

Exhibitors list, ValSun '79. The level of excellence at this show
was over-the-top, even for that day.  And it was so much fun to have visiting showers from the West Coast, Southwest, and Midwest there.  (Brave souls, to visit Phoenix in August.)

Hildred served as judge for about 1/3 of the classes. It was good to have her perspective as a model horse collector and (real) horsewoman, even though she wasn't regularly involved in the hobby.

The performance classes were where having Hildred as a judge, really paid off. As at many live shows, Nancy Banks, Hildred and I conferred on some of the placings. Hildred could tell if tack, particularly harness, was accurate and properly placed on the model, much better than many of the participating hobbyists. It was like taking a master class in making a model horse more realistic, for many of us! This was particularly important in the days before the internet allowed us to share such information widely and easily.

(Yes, I will have to do a separate blog post on ValSun!)

In addition to collecting and once judging a model horse show, Hildred loved to trade with other people for her art. Linda Kelly (Myron) bought and traded for several pieces of Hildred's art over the years, and traded a couple of model horses from her as well. A December 1989 Christmas card from Hildred to Linda has a note inside; they were setting up another model horse trade.

"I'd be very happy to trade with you. I'd like the Cybis Appaloosa foal; in fact all [the model horses] you mentioned interest me.... Please come when you can. We have plenty of room for guests. Bring tradin' stock!!!"

So Hildred had adopted Linda's favorite expression for model horse trading.

Notes from Hildred to Linda and Nancy say that, at one point, her own collection was on display in a museum in Wickenburg, AZ, but a 1993 note says that she was putting them back on display in her home. Barbara's book says that Hildred's second husband Floyd had built a special room for them, but Hildred still had some of them packed away for lack of space.

Hildred was well known for her bronze sculptures of horses. And she also designed horse figurines using the polymer material Sculpey. Here are a few.

These horses in harness were said to be in a museum in Wickenburg, Arizona,
when the photo was taken in the 1980s.

As far as I've been able to determine, none of Hildred's model horse designs was ever commercially produced. This 21 July 1977 article in the Alliance, Nebraska Times-Herald newspaper shows Hildred using Sculpey to design horse figurines. It concludes by saying she was negotiating with a Denver toy company to have the sculptures mass-produced for hobbyists.

I haven't been able to learn what happened to Hildred's model horse collection after she passed away in 1998. Hopefully they are with people who appreciate them as much as she did.

The story of Hildred Goodwine's model horse collection, and her interactions with hobbyists, is an example of the fact that not everyone who collects model horses is active or well-known to the organized model horse hobby community.

I have more information to share about Hildred Goodwine and her art, but it will have to wait for another blog post. Stay tuned!