Saturday, March 19, 2016

Will the Real Sespe Violette Step Up?

This blog is actually an update of the extensive article on the Belgian mare, Sespe Violette, from Kristina Lucas Francis' wonderful blog, Muddy Hoofprints.  
Hagen-Renaker collectors have often wondered about and tried to identify the actual live horse that Maureen Love sketched and sculpted for Hagen-Renaker Potteries and that was released by them in 1954 as Sespe Violette.

Sespe Violette
 Photo of Sespe Violette courtesy of James Richendollar.
The 'real' Belgian mare, Sespe Violette 32116, foaled May 11, 1944, was first owned by Rancho Sespe in Fillmore, CA.  She was 8 months old at her registry date of January 17, 1945, and described as dark sorrel, star in forehead, light short stripe below eyes, black feet, light mane and tail.

Her sire was Sespe Rowdy Junior 19959, he by Rowdy II 10570 out of Burge de Maeter 16492.
Rowdy II  10570, was by Baron de Chaussee 7584 (78644), out of Valdia de Keyem 1768 (67549 Brussels) who was foaled May 29, 1909.
Burge de Maeter 16492, was by Lucifer de Maeter 7276 (Vol.XIX,p.1884), out of Bru? 6736.

Sespe Violette's dam was Nancy Crotti Brown 19287, she by Dr. Crotti 14118, out of Betsy de Hemel 12715.
Dr. Crotti 14118, was by Walthar 8489 (91442), out of Violette's Last 8757.
Betsy De Hemel 12715, was by Distinction de Hemel 12957, out of Betty B. 11088.
 Photo of Sespe Violette's registry card courtesy of James Richendollar.
Photo of Lucifer de Maeter courtesy of James Richendollar.
Owners of the 4,000 acre Rancho Sespe were Eudora and Keith Spalding, heir to the Spalding family of baseball and sporting goods fame.  Sespe is the name given to the area in the Santa Clara Valley of Ventura County near modern day Fillmore, California, by indigenous inhabitants allegedly of that name.  The ranch was the largest in California, purchased by M. B. Hull in 1888 and inherited in 1895 by his son and daughter Eudora Hull Spalding, wife of Keith Spalding.  Along with serving as the head of several industrial corporations Keith Spalding was one of the most prosperous and successful agribusiness men in Ventura County.  Influenced by the Progressive and Country Live Movements, Keith turned Rancho Sespe into one of the largest private producers of citrus in the country and a model scientific operation.

Early on in his life he was manager of his father's horse ranch in San Diego where he bred Kentucky gaited saddle horses until 1905, and in 1909 started to manage the Sespe Ranch.  They were enthusiastic animal lovers, kept many exotic animals and had an extensive rare bird collection.  They did experiments using draft horses to work the land, and may be why the Belgians were bred there.  When Eudora Spalding died in 1942 she bequeathed the property to Caltech in Pasadena, which used it for agricultural experiments, with her husband a trustee of her estate.  Since Sespe Violette was born in May, 1944, could she have been bred in collaboration with Caltech?  In researching this it is very interesting that the Kellogg ranch grant to Caltech is heavily mentioned, but the Rancho Sespe gift is not mentioned at all.  An intriguing area for more research...
Photo courtesy of James Richendollar.
Sespe Violette was sold around 1948-9 to Dewey Hobson Burden, another fascinating man, who started the Owl Trucking Company in Compton, CA in 1919, owned Rancho Jo-Nita and raced a string of thoroughbred horses maintaining a thoroughbred breeding farm, Rancho Tecolote, at Buellton, CA.  He is most known for selling Emperor Hirohito of Japan the white horse the Emperor was often pictured riding during WWII that was actually a cow pony Dewey found.  

Dewey owned the team of Belgians at the Santa Anita and Hollywood Park race tracks used to draw the starting gate into position between races and to harrow the track.  The gate had to be hauled from the track to the infield after each start on the main track.  It was feared that a tractor might stall, leaving the gate on the track as they came into the stretch and of piling up a field of horses.  He sold his prize team of enormous Belgians, Don and Leo, the wheel horses of the eight-team hitch for seven years, to Rillito Park in Tucson, AZ in 1953 and bought an even larger pair in 1956.  Dewey Burden died in 1958 and his estate was sold in 1967.

Photo courtesy of James Richendollar.

It is likely that Maureen drew Sespe Violette at the Santa Anita race track around 1953. Kristina mentions Sespe Violette as being in the ownership of Kellogg Ranch at Pomona in 1960, so perhaps she was sold, donated or loaned to them after Dewey's death, before her last recorded sale in 1961.  After all, she had originally been bred during the time Rancho Sespe was donated to Caltech where the Kellogg Ranch was located.

Photo courtesy of James Richendollar.
Dewey Burden's Belgian 8 horse hitch exhibited at the August 1960 Sheriff's Rodeo in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, produced by Montie Montana.  They were mentioned as being owned by Dewey's son Joseph L. Burden of Owl Trucking Co. of Compton and driven by Harry Ogden.  Sespe Violette may have been there, as her last known sale was in 1961 to Darrell and Jan Livesay of Clinchport, VA.

 Photo courtesy of James Richendollar.

There are postcards that appear occasionally of the 8 horse Belgian team driven by Howard Long, the trainer of the Owl stable, or by Harry Ogden.  Sespe Violette may be in those photos, but her distinctive face marking would be the only way to perhaps verify that.  
 Dewey Hobson Burden's Belgian Horses
Photo courtesy of CynthiaMH4,

Sespe Violette's sister was Sespe Suzette 30726, also owned by Dewey.  They were both used in his 8 horse hitch which was shown in at least 7 fairs and was in the ring 52 times, winning 37 firsts, 11 seconds and 4 thirds.  They appeared at the Santa Barbara Fair and Horse Show, Santa Barbara County Fair, San Joaquin County Fair and Fresno County Fair, among others.

Side note - Dewey also owned the team of four high stepping Hackneys which transported the judges to and from their posts and around the track before the first race and between the others in a tooling English Brake at Santa Anita track in the 1940s and leased them during the winter season to the Los Angeles Turf Club.  Jimmie Booth, an actor who appeared in The Rifleman series, at some time drove the team of four Belgians and the fancy carriage pulled by the team of four high stepping Hackneys at the track. The veteran leather worker in Pomona, Z. C. Ellis,  made the harness work for the Belgians, Hackneys, and association horses at Santa Anita. The Scotch housings worn by the big work horses owned by Dewey Burden and managed by Harry Ogden are Ellis' handiwork.  
Dewey Hobson Burden driving his Hackney Ponies

Photo courtesy of CynthiaMH

The Hackney pony Brookside Stella, her name known to Hagen-Renaker collectors but unknown if she was, indeed, the horse Maureen actually sketched, was owned by Mrs. J. A. Smith of North Hollywood in 1955, a noted Hackney breeder.  Perhaps she had also been owned by Dewey and used at the race track around 1953 when Maureen was there drawing the racehorses and Belgians?  

I have transcribed this beautifully written newspaper article about Dewey's hackneys which was published March 8, 1946 in the Burlington Daily Times News, as well as several other papers across the country.  Because the draft horses at the track were very well known I was tickled to find any information on the hackney ponies.   

Hackneys Tooling English Brake Add Romantic Touch 
to Racing at Picturesque Santa Anita 
in Shadows of Sierra Madres

by Ned Brown, NEA Staff Correspondent - Arcadia, Calif., March 16 - (NEA)

     This is a beautiful spot, all right, this Santa Anita park in the purple shadow of the majestic Sierra Madres.  And it's overrun with beautiful thoroughbreds, representing the bluest blooded equines in America.  Although these gorgeous animals strive for the richest stakes ever the broad track in this poetically named town, they are not the only attraction for the visitor.  The magnificently landscaped walks, picturesque gardens comprising more than 3,000,000 brilliantly colored plants form a spectacle to delight the eye.  

     But the elite racers are not the only oat-burners here.  There's another horse department that is seldom, if ever, visited by the turf fan, majority of whom find more hectic interest in the mechanical adjuncts of the track - the paramutuel machines.  

     The hackney pony department is a neat, roomy barn presided over by Dewey H. Burden, of Compton, who leases his hackneys for the winter season to the Los Angeles Turf club.
        Every racing afternoon these hackneys jauntily tool an English brake around the track before the first race and between the others.  Harness brass-work shining in the sunlight, the compact ponies' coats glistening, their dainty high-stepping feet moving rhythmically, the coachman in his spotless livery and gray topper, red wheels spinning, this four-in-hand turnout cuts a dash and charm reminiscent of bygone, romantic days.

     They might be bowling along through an old English countryside, and bring up visions of a roadside tavern and a spot of ale.  Actually they are used in carrying the judges around the track to their various patrol stands, and a very snappy and efficient job they make of it.

     Both the four-in-hand which pulls the brake and the pair that draws the smaller hunting cart, average some 15 miles per afternoon, and they do it at a spanking trot, never once getting out of step. 

     There are nine hackney ponies stabled at the track and they are in charge of Harry Ogden, a "whip" of note, who handles the ribbons and supervises the care of equipment and the horses.  Harry, a slender, dappr chappie with dignified mien and gray hair, well remembers the old days when he used to take four-in-hand road coaches from Los Angeles out to Baldwin's hotel in Arcadia for dinner and drive back to the city through the moonlight, so he's no green hand at tooling a team.
     "There's a lot of work goes into that daily show we put on," Ogden will tell you.  "We start getting ready every morning at five and are not hooked up and ready to go till noon.  All the harness has to be cleaned and polished, wagons washed, horses' manes and tails braided with colored yarn - a tough job in itself.  When we get through the braiding, we put roses in it.  The ponies have to be specially shod so as to coordinate their action.  That's how you get that rhythmic high-stepping.  They're born high-steppers and are all show stock, have won prizes up and down the Pacific coast."
     Then Harry Ogden let us in on a secret.  On Saturday, March 16, when the meeting closes with the $50,000 San Juan Capistrano Handicap featured, he's going to drive six hackneys to the brake, something rarely seen.

     Our gray topper off to 'em even though half the patrons don't give these picturesque hackneys a tumble.

     A few more breaks like an English brake on the open road and the world might be better and safer.
Dewey Burden Hackney Ponies at Santa Anita Race Track

In my next blog chapter I will concentrate on Maureen Love's drawings of Sespe Violette and other Belgians, perhaps her sister, Sespe Suzette?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Share The Love at Breyerfest 2015

We are thrilled to announce that Share The Love will be at the Clarion in room 107, with some amazing items for sale!

We will have sets of our Share The Love note cards and postcards depicting drawings by Maureen Love.  There is a rooster, kittens and horses, including a chestnut Quarter Horse, the Belgian Sespe Violette and Lippitt Morman, the Morgan stallion.

Postcard Sets $11    Note Card Sets $20

$150 each, plus shipping
We will also have our Share The Love numbered Limited Edition earthenware figures that each come with a Certificate of Authenticity ~ large Banty Roosters, a few sets of Muscovy ducklings, quail, seagulls and some super exciting new pieces.  The new additions to our line are a very cool twisted tree, and a life-sized Pelican bust! 

The tree is similar to the one from Maureen's Horse and Tree sculpture, but much more intricate.  I haven't seen any originals that she had made from this mold, but here is a picture of her original plaster ball mold for it:

We've used two different glaze decoration styles, a more realistic version and a few using some wonderful art glazes.

 Trees $55 each
The life-size Pelican bust is amazing.
It was the only part of Maureen's sculpture of the entire Pelican I could rescue, and just the mold for the bust is huge.  There was no way I could have carried the mold for the body.  Her original stoneware Pelican sat outside in her front garden.  This is a picture of her original plaster ball mold of the bust with our pink rubber master casting inside:

You can compare the size of the mold to my toes, to get an idea of the scale.  Maureen's ball molds were done by flicking the wet plaster onto the original clay sculpture to create a plaster shell, and was a way to cut down on the amount and weight of plaster she used.  In this photo, to the right is a smaller original mold of hers, and you can see where the description of ball comes from, as opposed to the usual squared-off molds used for production slip casting.  Squared-off molds are much more substantial and sturdier than the ball molds.

And here is our finished Pelican bust ~~~

We've used a satiny matte glaze, so the finish shows off the sculpting detail very well, without the glossy glare that Maureen disliked.  We've kept her detail in the mold as pristine as possible throughout.  The brown bottom section was not meant to be seen but merely used to attach to the body, however it is a great chance to see her original rough tool marks and fingerprints.  This is the California Brown Pelican in partial breeding coloring, with some red and yellow showing through on the bill and neck, and traces of blue on the face.

We've used a rustic steel base to support the sculpture, and it is detachable for shipping.  I loved the look of the distressed steel against the ceramic, and since Maureen often fabricated and used steel in her sculptures it was a fitting choice.

We are taking orders for all of our items, for those who can't get here!  The Pelican busts are $265 each.

We will also have some old and rare Hagen-Renakers for sale, other clinky horses like old German porcelain, and, for FREE, some baby Mystery Plants to take home with you.

Our current dun Cheauka pony orders are being worked on, and we will notify the next people on the list as they are completed.  We won't be taking any money until each one is ready, so if your email has changed since our original message to you, please make sure to let us know so we can get hold of you.  We will have one in our room for display, and there will still be other colors to be issued in the future.  We won't be taking any new orders until the next announcement, and there will be a combination of first-come-first-served and a lottery to be as fair as possible.  Thanks so much for your patience and support!

Monday, June 15, 2015

More Maureen Mysteries Come to Light in De Forest

Maureen Love and Hagen-Renaker collectors may remember the continuing saga of the Maureen Love Mystery Pieces.  Share The Love here and Kristina Lucas Francis in her Muddy Hoofprints blog have written about them in the past, and readers have contributed many photos of their own to add to the subject.  For those who aren't familiar, the Maureen Love mystery pieces are sculpts that Maureen created and sold to companies for production other than Hagen-Renaker or her own line of Maureen Love Originals.  This happened during a slow period for Hagen-Renaker in the early 1960s.

We know of a running horse, several versions of rearing horses, her large modern stylized bull and a miniature stylized rooster. 

This is our latest exciting entry on Maureen's mystery pieces - three new ones, actually!
Recently I came across a pair of ducklings for sale online, done in a cold-painted metallic gold finish antiqued with brown, that just stunned me.  I immediately recognized them and knew every little detail of them, because as Share The Love I had poured and glazed sets of them last year using original molds from Maureen Love's estate.

These two ducklings are the first time we have examples of Maureen Love mystery pieces that actually have the pottery's name marked into the bottom. 
They are both impressed marked under the base DeForest and both have the number 420.

I then found another example, glazed in a screaming 1960s red/orange.  I really like this one, as it shows off the carving detail very well.

The base does not show any markings.

They are sculpts of Muscovy ducklings, and a description of our Share The Love Limited Edition issue of them is here.

This is Maureen's original sketch of the Muscovy ducks,

Maureen's original mold of the crouching one,

and our Share The Love version of them in glazed earthenware.

The DeForest of California ceramics company was created by Jack and Margaret DeForest and began in 1950 in Duarte, California, later in El Monte, CA.  The Hagen-Renaker Pottery was originally located in Monrovia, right next to Duarte, and for an additional trivia note - Lippitt Morman, the model for HR's Lippit, used to be stabled in Duarte, CA, also.

DeForest, also seen as De Forest, is known for whimsical functional ware pieces - banks, canisters, shakers, mermaid & fish wall plaques, serving and condiment pieces in an Onion and also Mustache Man series.   One of their slogans was 'Coast to Coast, It's the Most.'  Realistic figurines are very out of character for them.  I have found very little on DeForest, and welcome any additional information.

Using their name, however, I did find another example of a third Maureen Love mystery piece.
It happens to be one of her favorite subjects, a quail!  This is an example in a lovely turquoise blue glaze and quite large at 8 inches tall, photo courtesy of Etsy shop nldvintage:
 The base reads DeForest Calif USA 600 with a copyright symbol 196? (perhaps a 2)

The large quail mold from Maureen's estate below is very similar but not exact to the DeForest one.  The body, head and beak shape is close, however the plumage style is more realistic and flowing in the DeForest example.

Below is a plasticarve wax original master of a large quail from Maureen's estate (courtesy of Kristina Lucas Francis) that is very similar but not exact to Maureen's mold above, especially different in the cheek and throat detail and shape of the forehead.  I've set it at an angle to make it easier to compare.  Maureen did several different versions of quail and bobwhite, and there are others not pictured here.

The closest quail sculpt of Maureen's to the DeForest is actually a miniature quail.  This was cast from an original Maureen Love mold, and even though much smaller and the body shape being different you can see the more realistic feather detailing.  The topknot, cheek and throat is very similar, and the foliage on the base is not only similar to the large DeForest quail, it is very reminiscent of the mystery horse bases.  I think with all of this it is safe to say that the DeForest quail is actually a Maureen Love sculpt.

A second example of the DeForest large quail has been found, and now joins my collection.

The base reads DeForest of Calif  U.S.A.  600 with copyright symbol 1963 or 1965, the date is very faint, darn it.

This quail is a mystery within a mystery.  The glaze is fascinating.  It appears this piece was previously glazed with a brown satin or matte glaze in a more realistic style.  They then literally poured the new glaze over it.  Notice the large drip off the tail, and large areas where it didn't cover the glaze underneath.  Here is a closer view of it showing here:

The amazing overglaze on this may have been applied because the more realistic decoration was not popular, or because the topknot had broken off and the overglaze covered up the flaw.

Whatever the reason, it resulted in the most wonderful crazy crawling glaze!

Collectors keeping their eyes open may still come across  rare examples of Maureen Love's sculpts, and can still add their own chapters to Maureen's history. 

This is what keeps this hobby exciting, and I hope to hear from you with your own discoveries.

 Now, check out another update on Maureen's mystery pieces by Kristina in her Muddy Hoofprints blog here..........

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Happy Birthday to Maureen...

                    Happy Birthday to Maureen, and
                                                          Happy Mother's Day to Sarah~~

Well, it is actually a belated birthday wish, as Maureen May Love was born on May 7, 1922 in San Diego, California.  Thinking about her the other day, I was also thinking about other Maybaby model horse collectors I know, like Nancy Falzone.  This brought up memories of one of my happiest model horse gatherings, back in May of 2000, with the theme of collectors born in May.

This Mayfest birthday event was thrown by Nancy Falzone, and sponsored by Laurilyn Burson, Made With Love and Hagen-Renaker at a model horse gathering at Nancy's home.   For those who don't know Nancy Falzone (or Nancy Mongan back then), she has been collecting model horses and Hagen-Renakers since 1953, but it wasn't until the 1970s that collector Ellen Hitchens drew her into the model horse collecting community.  She became active in the hobby and was one of the pioneers along with Marney Walerius ('the' pioneer of model shows and Breyer collecting), Nancy Kelly and Simmie Smiljanic.  Simmie issued one of the first model horse magazines and Nancy Kelly has written several wonderful books by Schiffer on collecting now.

Nancy Falzone attended the first Model Horse Congress, the very first Breyerfest, has kept every scrap of paperwork related to the model collecting community and has allowed pieces of her collection to be photographed for practically every book on Hagen-Renaker and Maureen Love.  She corresponded regularly with Maxine Renaker, Maureen Love, Marney Walerius, Martha Armstrong, Helen Farnlund, William Wiemhoff, and many many others.  Her detailed records of literally all of Hagen-Renaker releases are still consulted by collectors, and her collection of model horse documents is a treasure trove for collectors and historians. She is limited in doing detailed research and reading correspondence over the internet due to her poor eyesight, but still loves the hobby and always enjoys talking to collectors.

As she wrote in an article for the Hagen-Renaker Collectors Club (HRCC) many years ago:

     "Collecting low times in my life, I would immerse myself in my hobby to help keep my mind off my problems.  Accumulating something that made me feel good when I looked at them helped me get through many tough times.  Collecting to me today is quite different from all the other stages in my life.  Yes, it is still finding something to add to what I have, but more than that I enjoy helping others with the hobby, especially the newcomers, to learn more about Hagen-Renakers.

     "Collecting is not how many one has, it's not the monetary value, it is the people you meet along the way, the friends you make, and  the sharing of the hobby with others.  It's the letters and the telephone chats and the sharing of finds with each other.  It's the getting together at live shows and at Breyerfest.  What a good time we have sharing with each other!  Without all of this it would not be near as much fun, maybe no fun at all.  I cannot imagine this fun hobby without the people involved in it.  This is what collecting means to me today."

Nancy Kelly did a wonderful write up of the Mayfest event for the HRCC newsletter, August-September of 2000 issue.  Here are two photos from that event, generously shared by Nancy Kelly. 

This is a group photo, with Nancy Falzone standing on the right side wearing a short sleeve blue denim shirt, and Gayle Roller in green kneeling in front of her.   Sitting next to Gayle is Michelle Oviatt in the royal blue top, who really helped Nancy pull this all together (along with Nancy's dear husband, Don), and Nancy Kelly is unfortunately out of view behind the camera.  This was also a celebration of John and Maxine Renaker's wedding anniversary, and here is the adorable cake:

Laurilyn, Made With Love and Hagen-Renaker contributed special pieces for gifts and prizes.  I believe the Made With Love draft foals were being released at that time, and remember some being there. We'd love to hear from other attendees of that event to hear their memories and help us ID everyone in the photo!

I wanted to also give a shout-out for Maureen's mother, Sarah Aileen (Specht) Love, for Mother's Day.  For those who knew Maureen you can see the resemblance.

This is a photo of Sarah as a young woman, taken around 1900 in Dubuque, Iowa.
Here is Maureen's mother as a young girl with her baby brother John, taken around 1888.

Sarah and her brother John a few years later,   

and a portrait of Sarah by Maureen. 

Maureen's mother had done some china painting, and Maureen also used china painting techniques, although under the glaze, in a few of her own ceramic pieces.

One example of that is this ceramic mug decorated with a familiar scene of a race track as a present for her husband.   Maureen met P. G. 'Whitey' Calvert probably at Santa Anita race track where she sketched the thoroughbreds, draft horses and horses used to guide the race horses to the starting gate. 

 Another example of a china painting technique was a small ceramic tile decorated by Maureen and sold in her estate auction.  This is the original sketch she based it on:

She's used a black and/or brown underglaze decorating pencil to actually draw on the bisque ceramic.  The lighter tan colors of the mane and face and shading in the background were done first, and may be a combination of the brown pencil and other underglazes brushed on, and the eyes may be the yellow pencil or underglaze.  The dark pencil was drawn on top, and a wet brush has blended and widened the lines in some areas before being coated with clear glaze and fired.

The pencils come in a few basic colors and are an often overlooked technique for ceramic decorators.   Amaco makes them, and they are available as pencils or chalks.  They can be used like pastels on the bisque ceramic, and before they are fired can be moistened with water and brushed to blend them.  They are then covered with a clear or lightly tinted glaze and fired in the kiln.   For those who use pastels to customize Breyer horses, this would be a great technique to try if you get into decorating bisque clinkies.

I'm sure Maureen who loved to experiment with mixing her own glazes and clays would be very happy to inspire someone to try new techniques in pottery!