Where did Copperfox come from? Where does the story begin? How does a new model horse brand appear and a UK one at that?
It's probably a little odd for a company or brand to completely disclose the reason behind their existence in this way (then again, we like to be different! Plus, I think by knowing where we have come from, you can better understand where we are going- and why. ).
Over a series of posts, I aim to share with you the story behind Copperfox, almost like a condensed biography, directly from the horses mouth. Feel free to ask questions, share your feedback, opinions, tell us what you think. Only by your feedback will we continue the series as after all we don't want to publish something that's not interesting to you.
(Before we start, I would like to stress that we are NOT Breyer Model Horses and are not endorsed, supported or affiliated to them in anyway. Our mention of this brand name is in context to the story and for that sole matter only).
Okay. Everyone comfortable? Let's begin.
Let me tell you a story. A tale that has taken many twists and turns over the years and finally came to fruition last year. It's a story that has it's roots in Utterly Horses, which hopefully many of you will know of, have purchased from or have heard something about. What was before UH? More Model Horses!
I've always loved horses and was lucky enough to own several over the years. This is a picture of my bedroom circa 1998, when I was 15 years old (how the time flies!!). I collected model horses of all shapes and sizes, mediums, materials, pictures, posters- basically anything with a horse on! I searched boot sales, flea markets, charity shops, collectors fairs. Anywhere and everywhere I was on the lookout for a horse shaped object. At it's peak, my collection totaled 3,000 models and as you can imagine took all day to dust!
Finding Breyer models in the UK was very tough when I was collecting. The first Breyer Models were not seen in the UK until the early 1970's. The first British distributor of Breyers was in 1979 when Jim Richardson under the name ‘Equorum’, and then "The Wentworth Collection", sold them via mail order and then via a shop in later years. Did you know that the first Live Show in the UK was in 1973! (a huge thank you to Jackie Radwanski for this amazing UK hobby information! Join the British Model Horse Collectors Group on Facebook to get involved with others chatting about the hobby)
I used to visit Jim Richardson as often as I could to purchase Breyer models. I used to spent hours, days, probably weeks pouring over Breyer catalogues and price lists working out what model I could afford with my pocket money and writing extensive detailed wishlists. I always wanted that Breyer Classics Wooden Travel/Carry case and i'm sure if i ever saw one even secondhand I would still have to purchase it now!! Visiting Jim's shop was like entering an Aladdins Cave. It seemed so full of models. Models that you had only ever seen in catalogues; you almost didn't know where to look first. The bright yellow boxes shone so bright. Many hours could be spent just wandering and looking at each model in turn, trying to decide who would come home to join the herd.
Over the years I visited his shop, Jim and I became very good friends and in 1999/2000s I began working with him, taking a small quantity of Breyer models to county shows and fairs under the company name "Utterly Horses", to promote and sell them to horse lovers and collectors.
Below are a selection of pictures from this period when Utterly Horses began (just click on the image for it to pop up). The first couple of pictures are from one of our very first country shows was the Essex Show where we had taken along a handful of models (and bulls!) to sell. We made handmade signs instead of buying professionally printed banners and the Utterly Horses Jumping horse logo was something that I drew and created. The horseshoe shape was the shoe from a horse I owned at the time, and the jumping horse image was from a magazine article. Inspiration comes from unusual places!!
Just before my GSCE exams were due to start, Jim gave me a proposition which was to change the course of my life. School wanted us to think about our careers and what we were going to do, and to be honest I had nothing on the horizon that I really wanted to do. I thought about joining the army, I liked the idea of challenges and adrenaline, (and did join the services, part time, down the line in 2008) but i didn't have anything particular in mind. All I knew for sure is that it had to involve horses in some shape or form.
Jim wanted to retire and was looking for someone to take over the Wentworth Collection, and wondered whether I would be interested. You can imagine my reaction... and decision! Utterly Horses officially purchased and amalgamated with the Wentworth Collection on the day of my Maths GCSE exam- and i had the biggest smile on my face- EVER! It was a very memorable exam!!
During this amalgamation, Utterly Horses and the Wentworth Collection did several competitions in Pony Magazine to continue the promotion of the models. Below is a few pictures of early competitions (together with my post it notes reminding me of the date!)
This is how Utterly Horses began. What happened next? Stay tuned for the next part in our series.