Mike Jackson’s Hartland Photos:
Black Beauty

Text & Photographs Copyright Mike Jackson 1998-2013

Black Beauty #800 B was sold without a rider, but did come with a saddle. I don’t have too much first hand knowledge of the set, but I do have a couple of references to them in some of my literature. The scan of the box here came from a recent auction and its source is reliable. It was sold as a “box only” item and went for a little more than I could afford, but it does confirm the existence of the piece. The horses may be much more common than the box. I have never heard of a Black Beauty tag, though they did make one for Trigger.

The Black Beauty, Trigger, and Silver sets seem to be tied to each other and they seem to have been sold for most of the time Hartland produced the Westerns. Interestingly, not much literature exists to show what was happening. The latest year I can confirm the sets is 1958, when it was listed in a Wyeth Company Catalog. Trigger was probably first since the box depicts that horse complete with his earlier style saddle. Black Beauty and Silver used the same box except for the colors of ink used and the top flaps. A collector has a mint in the box Trigger with the early wavy tail and chain reins which helps date the period of time they might have introduced the set. I don’t believe any of the Champ style horses were ever sold as part of this group.

The one consistent element of the Black Beauty group is the solid black horse with red bridle and martingale. I don’t think they ever made an 800 series small Champ horse in solid black with red trim. They did make a black Champ horse with white stockings and blaze, but I am fairly certain they called it “Blacksnake” and sold it with one of the smaller Champ style figures. Likewise, they made a black and white pinto with red tack, but it would not have been confused with Black Beauty.

Probably the first Black Beauty was a Chubby mold and came with an earlier style red Champ saddle as shown to the left. Hartland did make a similar horse at the time in full black but had brown tack. That horse was almost certainly used for O’Rourke when he was on the Chubby horse. I don’t have any documentation showing O’Rourke on a horse like the one to the left but it is at least possible that it did happen. I recently heard of a Chubby style black horse without the molded bridle. The martingale and red bridle were painted on similar to the rare versions of Earp’s horse and slightly more common versions of Dale Evans’ horse, Buttermilk.

Several years ago, a collector in Texas sent a photo to me showing a set that she had when she was little. She still had the box it came in. Her set shipped with a walking Black Horse with red bridle and red martingale. Her horse had the earlier style of walking horse with the big wavy tail and it was shipped with an earlier style Champ saddle as shown here. Later, Hartland would have switched from the wavy tailed version and later to the thinner straight tailed version.

I believe there is a variation of the horse shown to to the left with the red martingale. Note this one has the slender tail and is the later mold. This one is quite unique in the fact it does not have the silver dots in the bridle and lacks any sort of martingale. I would probably still call this a Black Beauty variation but it is hard to say for certain.

Hartland may have used some of their overstock of Black Beauties with Sgt. Preston #804. In one of the brochures they wrote “Scarlet tunic, black horse with red trappings—authentic to the smallest detail.” The version of Preston carrying the Canadian flag is always shown on a walking style horse similar to the ones above. I believe that would have likely been the one with the straight tail. One collector says he owns a walking version of this horse with the straight tail AND cropped mane. It’s the only one I have heard of, but could very well have been produced for Preston.

This is basically the same as the horse above, however it has the slender tail and full mane.

There are two variations of the regular saddles. One is identical to the regular rifle holed saddles execpt red, while the other is identical to the unique saddle used only with Annie Oakley, shown here. (I have never seen a blue Annie Oakley saddle with the rifle hole.) I don't know exactly when they switched from the Champ style saddles over to one of the other two regular smooth saddles, but I would guess it was somewhere in the switch over to the straight tailed horse.

Following the two walking versions, it seems clear that they moved up the horse line to the Semi-Rearing mold. By now, I am fairly certain they would have switched saddles to the newer style saddle. This one has silver dots on the bridle and martingale. This variation of Black Beauty would be considered rare to my knowledge. I am not aware of this horse with the more slender tail and smoother mane. I have never seen a single solid black “mane down” semi-rearing horse with either red, brown, or unpainted tack.

The full rearing version of Black Beauty is very difficult to find. As a matter of fact this in the only one I know about right now. While I could be wrong, I don’t believe Preston was ever shipped on either of these two horses, leaving the only other option of being Black Beauties.

Again, I find the lack of literature very interesting. The Black Beauty, Trigger, and Silver horses were all being sold in the middle of the hayday of Hartland sales...roughly the early 60’s. Many brochures were available showing Arabians, Mares, Farm Animals and so forth, but those three horses have not shown up photographed on any of the literature I have collected (YET). Of the two references I can locate, one simply lists them for sale at $2.25. The other does describe Black Beauty as “A Jet Black Horse with Red Martingale and Saddle—A standout!”

Full Rearing Black Horse with red bridle:
This is also probably a Black Beauty variation, though it seems to be very rare. It does appear to be an original factory paint job. I have heard a distant rumor of a similar horse with a brown bridle, but the collector never sent a photo to confirm the piece. I’ll shoot this one with the red saddle soon.

There is also a solid black version of the head down prancer. Since it lacks the red bridle and martingale, I don’t believe it would have used as a Black Beauty. The only possible rider that has been rumored to ride him is a Gil Favor and I have no clue where that rumor started. I have never seen nor heard of a black prancer with red tack.

You can view other black horses by visiting this page: The Black Horse Page

If you have any first hand knowledge or literature, PLEASE, let me know!

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