Harbour Lights Lighthouses Countries of Origin
Harbour Lights was founded in California by Bill and Nancy Younger along with their daughter Kim Andrews in 1990. The first releases of the new company, HL101-HL117 were made available for sale in 1991. Each of the initial releases had a planned edition of 5,500 pieces each. Once that number was created and sold, that lighthouse would no longer be produced and would be "retired" forever.
Approximately 250 of each of the original 17 were cast in a local California factory. It was HL's intentions to begin production on a small scale and when the original order was nearly sold out, another 200-250 would be produced. That would keep going until all 5,500 were produced or the Youngers decided that it was taking too long to sell out and would "retire" the piece early.
Shortly after the initial order was delivered to Harbour Lights, the California company went out of business. The Youngers found another factory in Canada (Castle Studios) to produce their lighthouses and production was moved there.
The Youngers were never very happy about the quality of the Canadian pieces and after a short time (two years), a new factory in Malaysia was found that could produce the company's lighthouses with much higher quality at a competitive price. The Youngers severed ties with Castle Studios and all Harbour Lights pieces were then manufactured in Malaysia.
When production prices started to rise exponentially in Malaysia, the search was on to find another factory that could produce their lighthouses at a reasonable price. Right around the turn of the millennium, HL was approached by factories in China. The Chinese pieces were not only competitively priced, but the Chinese also had the ability to produce sculptures with even more detail than the Malaysians could. Production was then moved from Malaysia to China where it remained for the duration of Harbour Lights' existence.
Because of the change of production venues, a number of Harbour Lights lighthouses were actually produced in two or even three different countries. Pieces made in California or Canada are highly prized by collectors as they were produced in much smaller quantities than those same lighthouses that were made in Malaysia or China.
Many Harbour Lights collectors are familiar with the formed Styrofoam inserts that their lighthouses were shipped in. Those were exclusive to the Chinese made pieces. California, Canadian, and Malaysian factories used packing peanuts in the Harbour Lights box to keep the lighthouse from shifting inside of its box.
Except for China, each of the other factories' boxes were all exactly the same no matter what the size of the lighthouse was.The California box was approx. 10 1/2" x 8" x 8" and plain brown. Canadian boxes were the same as those from California except that they were white and stamped in most cases "Castle Studios". (A brown box stamped with the "Castle Studios" logo meant that the lighthouse was actually cast in California but never finished there before the factory was closed. Those pieces were then shipped to the Canadian factory and completed there). The Malaysian boxes were approx. 11 1/2" x 8" x 8" and had a light blue image all around the box of Portland Head Lighthouse.
The packing peanut method of shipping caused many broken pieces, especially those that were made in California and Canada. A number of pieces had to be redesigned with thicker towers in order to survive shipping. Most notable of these was the HL102 Cape Hatteras. Less than 100 of the California made pieces survived shipping and a redesign was configured before any Canadian pieces were shipped. The original thin tower HL102 was, and still is, the "Holy Grail" of Harbour Lights collecting.