Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Royal Worcester Percheron "Saltmarsh Silver Crest," by Doris Lindner

It's pretty common to see used model horse figurines at yard sales, estate sales, antique malls, and thrift stores in the US. Breyers, Hartlands, horses for American Girls and Barbie, technicolor batches of "My Little Pony" collectibles, even vintage Marx "Best of the West" horses and riders appear weekly in ads for sales around the country.

And model horse collectors seek them out. Sometimes we get very lucky and find ceramic horses that were made in Japan (referred to in hobbyspeak as "MIJ" horses), or by Hagen-Renaker, Beswick, or other manufacturers of clinky (another hobby term for easily-breakable ceramic, porcelain, etc.) horses. 

But we don't often see model horses by Royal Worcester for sale at secondhand locations in the United States, probably because comparatively not that many of them were made in the first place. There are usually some listed on eBay and other online auction sites.

This example of the Royal Worcester Percheron, designed by Doris Lindner (1896-1979), was recently found at an estate sale.

He came with his original wooden base and factory certificate, which identifies him as number 52 in a limited edition of 500. 

A little online searching told me that his piece was issued in 1965, and was modeled after a real horse, Saltmarsh Silver Crest.

Source: Australian Percheron Society

Saltmarsh Silver Crest, foaled in 1955, was bred by G. H. Bowser and owned by Mr. George Edward Sneath of Pinchbeck, Lincolnshire. Online newspaper accounts provide us with a record of some of his winnings. Here's an example:

The Birmingham Post and Birmingham (West Midlands) Gazette, 5 April 1962

Online sources note that Saltmarsh Silver Crest was not only a champion show horse; at one time, he was the heaviest horse in England, weighing in at 2,772 pounds. 

Source: South Holland Heritage

Fortunately for model horse collectors who own this piece, the Royal Worcester "Saltmarsh Silver Crest" won't require that much food. He is a little smaller than a Traditional scale Breyer without his base, and weighs in at a little over two pounds with the base. I set him on a mostly-Breyer shelf in my display case to show the scale.

Like so many older model horses exposed over the years to smoke and dust, little Silver Crest needs some gentle cleaning. It's also common to see this piece with some damage to its minute details. This example of the RW Percheron lost his mane "flights" but the flight (or "bob") on his tail is, miraculously, still attached.

Saltmarsh Silver Crest is a splendid example of a beautifully designed model horse that has endured over the decades to grace a collector's shelf.


The Museum of Royal Worcester website contains information about the life and work of artist Doris Lindner:  

The Percheron Horse Association of America website provides a history of the breed:

The Australian Percheron Society "P for Percheron" website has one of the photos of Saltmarsh Silver Crest archived:

The South Holland (UK) Heritage website has an article on the Sneath family that discusses their Percheron horses: 

Here's a short film of the Worcester factory from 1951. At about 1:54, we can see some horse and rider figurines; at 2:28, a "statuette of Princess Elizabeth" is shown: