Thursday, 11 February 2010

It seemed like a good idea at the time

In the days before my scanner breathes its last (its yellow stripes are apparently terminal) I've scanned a few more images in from Pony and Riding magazines. Riding wear stayed very much the same for quite a long period in the 20th century, helped by the Pony Club's insistence on what was the correct riding attire. There were stirrings, though. One which interested me in particular was the move from the elephant ear jodphur to the fitted type we have today. (In passing, does anyone have any idea WHY the elephant ear jodphur had the elephant ear bit? Did it serve any actual purpose?)

My very first jodhs were the elephant ear type, and my next were the riding trouser, a transitional trouser in between the elephant ears and the modern fitted type. In these ads, the riding trouser doesn't look too bad at all: more fitted; it's lost the elephant ears and as it has an elastic strap is less likely to disappear up your leg leaving your skinny ankles exposed to the evil Northamptonshire wind, but I never came across any of these. My sister and I both had riding trousers, after our mother was talked into buying them by the owner of the riding stables. The next thing, she said. Everyone will have them soon, she said. Maybe if they'd been like the Edwin Drostle ones below, they would have, but my sister and I were alone with ours. Poor sister's were even less prepossessing than mine, being an unattractive dung colour. Mine were at least an alluring putty, but both pairs were shapeless sacks with elastic at the bottom.

Phillips and Piper Ltd did pantaloons - I can't imagine they sold many with that name, but I wonder if that was what we had.

I never had the next horror visited upon me (only because the riding school owner didn't have one in secondhand, otherwise it would have been mine). I can't remember ever seeing one either, but it has a peculiar charm, the riding hat with the softer, more feminine line, in tweed.

You would think that denim jodphurs were a horror only around in the 1980s (and I do have a Pony Magazine somewhere with an ad for these which I will post as soon as I find it). No - Rowes of Bond Street were selling the deni-jod in the early 1960s. They only came in regulation colours of fawn or brown, but they were denim, and their young customers insisted upon them, they said. Not for long, I suppose, as I can't find any mention of these jodhs in the mid 1960s. Having ridden in denim in an inter-jodh period, I know first hand the horror of riding in sodden, icy denim. However suited denim might be to the prairies, it's not at its best in rainy Britain.

I found an interesting correspondence in Riding Magazine, 1960. Wayne Saxton, an Australian, commented bitterly on the girliness of riding dress. The editor of Riding obviously thought this nothing but whining, simply withering poor Wayne with the observation that riding kit was worn by men before being copied by women, and each item had a "sound, practical purpose".

Mollie Helsby rode to Wayne's rescue in a subsequent issue. Her riding school had more boys than girls, and this she thought must be due to her not insisting on the correct riding kit. It's an interesting point. I wonder if boys still feel the same way? My son, when he had riding lessons, was very agin the idea of jodphurs, though quite happy to wear jodphur boots and a hat.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Another Pegasus photo

Just found this Pegasus Toys ad, which comes from Pony Magazine December 1961. I'm sorry about the yellow stripe. My scanner, which is pretty ancient, has now decided everything needs a yellow stripe, no matter what I do.

I really like this Pegasus model: it's much more delicate than the Julips, which love them though I do, are on the clumpy side. The hound's rather gorgeous too. It's a pity Isis and Pegasus became defunct. It would be interesting to know if the moulds still exist, as I think they're much more attractive than Julips and surely there would be an opportunity there for someone prepared to make the investment.

Just found this

Friday, 5 February 2010

Model Ponies

I blogged a while back about model ponies in the mid 1960s, but have since bought a load of Pony and Riding magazines from the early 1960s, which are wonderful source material for so much that I would like to write about but have not had time. The magazines have adverts for a whole range of model horses most of whom were defunct by the mid 1960s. As I was born in 1962, none of these ever swum across my ken, none were dandled over my pram to amuse or even bought in by an enterprising parent for Jane to have later. Ah well.

There was certainly a wider range of materials and styles than later on in the decade. Not all of the horses were made of rubber: Rowe Horses were made of silks. I wonder how many of them have survived. I guess very few, as the silk must surely have decayed. The horses were also pretty expensive: 60 shillings was £3 (around £50 in today's money), and Pegasus and Isis rubber models were around the £1.50 mark (around £26), which also included tack or a rider. 

There were also these rather ritzy Edith Reynolds horses, made of real calf skin. They were presumably very expensive, as they were stocked by Harrods and Hamleys, and don't actually mention such vulgar things as price.

There were rubber horses too: here is one from Pegasus. The photograph is alas little better in the original, which is perhaps a reason why Pegasus didn't survive. Just a bit more attention to the quality of the photograph would have helped, but their Thoroughbred is shrouded in dark murk. It's an intriguing looking model though, with plenty of vim:

I also found these real oddities: bendy people. Quite what you did with them without the equivalent bendy horse, I do not know. Presumably the company weren't quite sure either, as the advertising pushes the figures as useful prizes for hunt balls.

The main competitor to Julip, certainly in terms of number of advertisements, was Isis, a Berkshire company whose advertising was rather more clued up. They also managed to get their products in editorial. The picture below is from Pony December 1966, and shows the Isis yearling money box. Isis had a wider range of products than just model horses: they also produced Tack, a card game. The other adverts are from 1962 and 1961. Isis' prices were noticeably more reasonable than its competitors: 8/6, which is around £7.50 in today's money.

The major company in the early 1960s was still Julip. I found this intriguing mention of specially commissioned Pony models in Pony Magazine, December 1962. Percy was a Przewalski horse, and Allsorts was a donkey. It certainly sounds from the copy below as if Percy and his friends were freely available .

Julip in the early 1960s didn't seem to stoop to the level of their competitors by providing photographs, like the one below, which is from December 1966.

They preferred to take a sideswipe at the opposition in pure text, simply telling customers to BEWARE OF IMITATIONS. As none of the other companies still exist, it appears customers took this to heart.

Monday, 1 February 2010


As ever with this blog, I've nearly made posts on several subjects, but then life has got in the way, and my great thoughts have fizzled.

Anyway, inspired by this post on Musings, here is an observation. I wonder when other people find that instead of introducing your children to music (other than being hit over the metaphorical head with the Thomas the Tank Engine theme tune, which counts as torture), that they start introducing it to you? Son, like the rest of his family, was a bit credit-crunched when Christmas came round, so made us all CDs. So unlike my own teenage days, when you would tape things off the Top 40 show, finger hovering over the pause button so you got as much of the track as possible before the dj starting talking.

So here are the Verve. Thanks Fred.