Breyer has used the blue ribbon symbol in its catalogs and other promotional material since at least 1961. Most collectors, however, did not become aware of its existence until they discovered it in one of its more unusual forms – as a sticker on one of their models!
This sticker, usually found on a model’s shoulder, is a paper label diecut in the shape of a ribbon, printed in dark blue with gold lettering. In addition to the Breyer name and copyright, the name and number of the model are also printed in the center of the medallion. They tend to crack, peel and yellow with age, so the sticker is rarely found completely intact or mint; sometimes all that’s left is a sticky residue and a yellow stain. The condition of the ribbon doesn’t usually affect the value it adds to a model as long as it is legible and almost complete.
It is hard to pinpoint the dates when these stickers were used; Breyer continued using the blue ribbon symbol in one form or another into the 1980s. Although Blue Ribbon stickers have been found on models through 1971, such as the ’71 Red Roan Running Mare, most collectors date the use of the stickers from the mid to late 1960’s. Examples of stickers have been found on a wide range of models, including most of the Family Arabians, Clydesdales, Running Stallion and Mare, Lying Foal, Five Gaiter and even the Breyer Kittens.
There are probably a couple of different reasons why Breyer used these stickers. Most models at that time (and many even today) were sold in glass display cases, side by side with models from other companies. Breyer may have used them not only to help shoppers identify individual models, but also to distinguish their products from the competition.
Stickers, too, are a common practice among pottery companies like Hagen-Renaker, whose figurines have no other distinguishing marks or seals; it’s easy to imagine that stickers may have been added to assert the fact that Breyer models are made with the same amount of pride and care as a pottery-made figurine.