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Horse Mannequins

Fox the horse mannequin

This papier-maché horse stood proudly in a Kansas harness shop for many years.

"A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty 'Hi-yo Silver. . . .'"

No, it's not the Lone Ranger's fabled horse. In fact, this horse doesn't move at all, and the smile on its face is more friendly than fiery.

The horse in question is affectionately known as "Fox," after the name painted on its rump. Made of papier-maché, the only actual horsehair on Fox is the mane and tail. Fox dates from around 1900, a time when horses were far more common than automobiles for traveling. Its manufacturer is unknown.

Papier-maché horses were commonly used to display saddles, harness, and tack in shops making and selling such items. This particular horse was used by Fox and Son of Anthony, Kansas. West Fox started the business in the late 1880s; despite the company's name, West was joined by two sons, Ed and Jud.

Fox logo on horse's rump

During the business' peak, Fox and Son turned out 400 sets of harness annually. When Ed Fox retired in 1947, he kept a workshop at his home and the papier-maché horse came with him. In the workshop, Fox wore a saddle that was sold new by Fox and Son, and had been owned by a bank president in Anthony and used in the 1893 Cherokee Strip land rush.

Over the years, many Anthony children had an opportunity to "ride" the horse. Ed Fox said he could never turn down a child asking for a ride.

In 1971, the smiling steed was put into a horse trailer and brought to the Kansas Historical Society where it was placed in the collections of the Kansas Museum of History. The donor, Clarence Fox, was West's grandson and Ed's son. Fox was a popular part of the blacksmith and harness shop display in Memorial Hall.

Joe the horse mannequin

This papier-maché horse stood proudly in a Kansas harness shop for many years.

The museum collection also includes a companion papier-maché horse named Joe. He was located by the Lane family of Topeka to pull a Victoria buggy they had donated to the Historical Society in 1925. Joe, a dapple gray, had been used extensively by a Salina farm sales company before being retired to a warehouse. He received some repairs before his trip to Topeka in 1930. Joe was a popular part of the Victorian display in Memorial Hall. Both horses were crated and moved to the Kansas Museum of History, which opened in west Topeka in 1984.

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Entry: Horse Mannequins

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2006

Date Modified: June 2023

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.