John Lightner's Christmas Rarities, a pictorial reference book on antique, rare German glass Christmas ornaments, took the author on forty visits to a dozen states in the USA as well as a trip to several countries in Europe where he photographed over 15000 ornaments from some of the rarest collections in the world. More than 500 of these rare ornaments have never been published before. Over 550 of them were seen in only one collection and over 1139 of them were seen in three or fewer collections.
The book has fourteen categories: Angels, Animals, Candle Clips, Clowns, Indians, Men, Miscellaneous, Pipes and Rattles, Religious, Santas, Transportation, Victorian, Women; and a wonderful and informative separate section of Kugels and Caps. Each ornament has a reference number, a description, a rarity scale and a value scale. This is a must have reference book for any serious collector.
|Publisher:||Lightner, John I.|
|Product dimensions:||8.70(w) x 10.80(h) x 0.90(d)|
Interview by Barbara Crews from about.com
What was the deciding factor in self-publishing your book?
As a long time collector, as well as a photographer, I realized there really wasn't a book that collectors could use as a reference book for rare ornaments. There wasn't a cohesive, easy-to-use book with reference numbers and separate categories with different molds, all in one location for easy viewing.
My main goals were to find as many of the "rare" ornaments that are out there, find the stuff no one else has seen. I wanted a pictorial depository that would house all these great rare pieces in one place.
I wound up publishing a book with about 1500 ornaments, over 500 have never published before. To accomplish this, I photographed over forty of the rarest collections in the US and Europe.
What interesting things happened during your travels to publish the book?
Two things stand out. First I was amazed that almost every collector had something different than the other collectors that was rare and that there was such a large variety of rare pieces. I was also surprised at how many Dresdens were in the collections. There are a lot more Dresdens than anyone imagines.
What advice do you have for collectors that might be new to collecting antique glass ornaments?
1. Collectors need to understand to not buy an ornament as an investment. Values fluctuate. Prices can vary greatly for the same ornament. I have seen price swings of hundreds of dollars for the same ornament over a period of six months to a year. Buy an ornament that you love.
2. Buy the best quality ornament you can afford. Ornaments with good silvering and goodpaint retain their value better.
3. Be way of buying on eBay. Unless you know the seller, you take a big risk in buying anything you cannot see in person. Pictures do not always show defects and flaws.
4. Buy a good book on ornaments. My book is directed to the more experienced collectors, but belongs in the library of any collector. But there are good basic books that show more of the common ornaments.
5. Join a club in your own city or a national club.
Can you explain to a beginner what the difference is between a glass ornament and a kugel?
Kugels were the first known glass ornaments made by the Germans. They were made in different molds, which included grapes, eggs, berries and some other fruit designs. But they were mainly produced as balls which were free-blown in sizes ranging from 1/2" to 30" in diameter.
1. The glass is quite heavy, unlike the mold ornaments made today.
2. The color is in the glass, as in stained glass windows. They are not painted as the molds are today.
3. German Kugels all had brass caps and rings
My book, Christmas Rarities, has great detail on what to look for, so you don't get ripped off with all the fakes out there from India.
How many glass pieces are in your collection?
I've had as many as 400 kugels and well over 1000 mold-made ornaments. About 200 examples in the book are mine, but I didn't always use my ornaments if a better example was available to photograph.
How do you take care of and store your collection?
I store all the really valuable ornaments in bubble bags that I buy from Uline Company and then put those in another plastic bag. Some people suggest keeping the bag unzipped for air circulation. Other ornaments I keep in boxes.
Any special way you display your pieces?
I have several trees of different sizes ranging from 18" to 10'. Sometimes I put all my kugels on a tree and sometimes I will put all my extended leg ornaments on a feather tree, and often I just display everything all on one tree.
And as a final question. Would you ever do a book again?
I would like to add to this book. The collectors have all been extremely pleased with it and some of the auction houses are using it to categorize their auctions, so I think it is quickly becoming the standard as a reference book. If there is enough interest in a second book, I would do it. There are still numerous collections out there with many ornaments not shown in this book.