How To: Authenticating Breyer Horses

October 9, 2009

There’s no question as to authenticity when we purchase a new Breyer from our favorite dealer, but sometimes we purchase used or rare models from individual collectors. The vast majority of collectors are very honest and upfront about the history of a horse, but sometimes, especially with rarer horses, its best to cover all of your bases.

In the past month or so there have been several cases of fake models being sold as real; I’ve had this happen twice to myself. This can happen to anyone, regardless of experience in the hobby. Commonly we purchase second-hand horses via the internet, which is great and convenient for all of us, but we’re purchasing through photographs instead of seeing the model in person. We also may not always know our seller.

The most commonly reproduced models are the glossy prize models that Breyer awards at their sponsored shows and as prizes for other contests. These models have become very valuable and collectible in the past decade and are very desirable. There have been countless cases of these models being reproduced. The common way to tell the difference is the feel and smell of the gloss. Unfortunately you can’t tell this until you get the model home.

At every Golden Oak Stables’ show I give the same speech that I’ll give here. Make sure you know the owner. If you are going to spend several hundred dollars on the model be sure to get the seller’s full name and if he or she won the model, if not, find out who did win the horse. Once you have that make contact with the original winner (If you don’t have their email a google search can help find it) and see what the history of the model is. You can also check JAH for Breyerfest winners for each year, I suggest checking this out and looking for the winner’s name.

These steps aren’t always full proof, but it is a good start. In addition you should ask for up close photos of the horse including the stomach, legs, hooves, tips of tail, under the chin, ect. These are areas where the gloss would drip. It is very easy to purchase a regular run model and place a coat of gloss over them, so checking these places for drips and bubbles will help you weed out the fakes. All Breyerfest models come with a Certificate of Authenticity, but these are VERY easy to reproduce, so do not rely on this to authenticate the horse for you. After you’ve done some homework and if you feel the horse is authentic be sure to use a secure method of payment such as a credit card as well as working out a return policy in writing should the model end up being fake.

Decorators are the second most commonly reproduced models. Decorators (Blue, Gold, Woodgrain, ect) are quite rare and are much harder to reproduce than a glossy model. Most decorators are very easy to tell from photographs which are real and which are fake. Most vintage decorators were produced prior to 1970, so one way to check is to ask for a photograph of the mold mark. No vintage decorators should have the U.S.A mark. Taking a look at the current Breyer guide as well as familiarizing yourself with what these models look like will help you if you should decide to make the plunge.

After you purchase the model though you’ll want to test the model. There’s a cleaning solution by the name of Lestoil that will take off any paint that is not original finish leaving the original paint below. Diluting this in water and leaving the horse soak for a short period of time will either do nothing, meaning your horse is authentic, or the paint will start to peel, which means the horse is a fake. I have yet to hear a story of Lestiol disturbing an original paint job.

Its always best to purchase models in person if possible, but do your homework if you decide to buy online. Check out your seller on Model Horse Hobby Reference for detailed accounts from other buyers about prior transactions and always purchase with a bit of buyer beware, and always remember, you can’t go wrong with a new Breyer from your dealer!


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