THE MANY CATEGORIES OF HARBOUR LIGHTS
From "hardcore" collecting to "casual" collectors, Harbour Lights has various categories to satisfy every taste. Here is a breakdown of what each HL category consists of...
LIMITED EDITIONS (LE)
As the name would imply, Limited Edition are produced in limited quantities only. Harbour Lights would set a limit for each release before production. In 1991, when the first Harbour Lights lighthouses were produced, a maximum number of 5,500 of each of the original 17 lighthouses was set. Although a few of these original releases were retired before the full production run was completed, production stopped on the others once 5,500 were produced. The mold was broken and each piece was never made again. (Many of these, however, were redesigned and released in a different category. For example, Cape Hatteras was redesigned in various sizes and configurations a total of 10 times!)
As years went by and Harbour Lights lighthouses became more popular, the company expanded production runs for some of their lighthouses to as many as 10,000 each during the late 1990's and early 2000's. When recession hit the world in the first decade of the new millennium, production totals for each piece were gradually reduced to as few as 1,200 each.
As with all categories of Harbour Lights lighthouses, Limited Editions can be identified by their HL numbers. HL101-HL399 are all Limited Editions. When Harbour Lights ran out of 300 series numbers on their final two releases, numbers HL836 and HL837 were used.
Limited Editions are considered to be the backbone of Harbour Lights collecting.
GREAT LIGHTHOUSES OF THE WORLD (GLOW)
GLOWs (acronym for Great Lighthouses of the World), were also called Open Editions due to the fact that there was no set number of each produced. In the GLOW series, no lighthouse was ever sold out. When Harbour Lights ran low on any of the GLOW pieces they simply had more produced. The more popular a piece was, the more that were made.
GLOWS normally had a footprint which was a bit smaller than the Limited Edition's. When a Limited Edition lighthouse was duplicated as a GLOW, the piece would have a different design to distinguish it from the LE.
All GLOWS were numbered in the HL400 series.
When Harbour Lights lighthouses were becoming very popular in the mid-1990's, HL created the exclusive Collectors Society in 1995. For a nominal fee, collectors not only received a company newsletter and early announcements of company events, each paid member received a free lighthouse (and sometimes an ornament as well), that was not available to the general public. Along with the free piece, every member was entitled to purchase another special lighthouse that was only available through membership in the Society. At its height in the late 1990's and early 2000's, the Harbour Lights Collectors Society boasted around 20,000 members.
Collectors Society pieces can be identified by their 500 series HL numbers.
Harbour Lights was a company which was very much in tune with its collectors. Regularly throughout the year, HL would hold local store events throughout the country where collectors could meet HL founders Bill and/or Nancy Younger and have each sign Harbour Lights lighthouses for them. Sometimes HL co-founder Kim Andrews, (the Younger's daughter), or artistic director Harry Hine, (a Younger son-in-law), would be present to sign as well. It would be at these events that a gold plated version of a Harbour Lights lighthouse would be raffled off.
HL would also take part at certain regional events, (i.e. relighting of Thomas Point Lighthouse, Door County Lighthouse Festival, etc), where lighthouse signings would also take place.
In addition to the above events, every few years the company would organize a Harbour Lights Collectors Reunion. The Reunions were usually 3-5 days in length and occur in a different part of the country each time. Among the activities for the attendees would be lighthouse cruises, actual lighthouse visits, and games & activities. Mostly though it provided camaraderie among people with similar interests from different parts of the world.
In each of these events, Harbour Lights would create a special release which was available only to those collectors who attended. These pieces would be confined to the HL600 and HL800 series.
Beginning in 1995 and each year thereafter until 2011, the most anticipated lighthouse release would be the Christmas lighthouse. Many a collector would be receiving this as a Christmas present from a relative or friend. Even those who didn't collect other lighthouses throughout the year would be sure that he/she would have this year's Christmas lighthouse to add to those of past years. Each Christmas lighthouse sported a bit of snow on the ground and the roof along with other Christmas decorations throughout. Occasionally Santa and his reindeer would be making a visit to the lighthouse, true to form of the care and detail in every Harbour Lights sculpture.
The series of HL700 would always distinguish that the piece was a Christmas release.
THIS LITTLE LIGHT OF MINE (LLOM)
In order to capture the tourist trade, Harbour Lights created "This Little Light of Mine" at the turn of the milennium. Smaller than their full sized brothers and sisters, (approx 3" x 3"), these lights became popular in lighthouse gift shops and stores in tourist areas. As with the GLOWs, Harbour Lights made thousands and thousands of most of these with no set limit to production.
Instead of the HL prefix found on the numbers of the larger lighthouses, "Little Lights" had a "LL" prefix before its stock number.
Harbour Lights' recreation of individual lighthouse lenses began in 2000 when it released a generic reproduction of a 5th Order lens. When the 4,000 piece Limited Edition lens sold out in less than a month, HL knew that it had to create more of these to satisfy their collectors. Periodically more lenses were created, as well as two sets of lens ornaments.
Lenses were placed into the "Special Release" category and had HL number prefixes in the 600 and 800 series
With the success of its release of the Golden Gate Bridge replica in 2003, Harbour Lights was approached by a couple of its largest dealers asking for production of various local buildings and landmarks to be produced. HL would only do that if the dealers would buy the entire run and sell them exclusively. Thus was the birth of the "Historic Buildings" series.
Contracted mostly by Lighthouse Depot in Maine, (who would later purchase the company from the Younger family), the historic buildings became popular with locals and "hard core" Harbour Lights collectors. The first historic building was actually a lighthouse, Halfway Rock, contracted by the Lighthouse Depot in 2005. Originally numbered as CLH-101, (for Custom Light House), the stock number was changed to HB905 (for Historic Building).
Seven pieces were designated as historic buildings All have the "HB" prefix followed by a 900 series number.
ANCHOR BAY SHIPS
With the success of its lighthouse collectible line assured, Harbour Lights decided to venture into a related ships and boat collectible line as well. In 1997, Anchor Bay released its first handful of replica sea craft. The initial release of generic type boats were not received well by dealers, so they were slightly remodeled and a couple of lightships were also released. Eventually the Anchor Bay line became popular among collectors, especially when the company's direction turned to reproductions of Coast Guard ships.
Anchor Bay releases can be distinguished by the prefix "AB" before the stock number.
OTHER YOUNGER AND ASSOCIATES PRODUCT LINES
While Harbour Lights was by far the most successful of all its product lines, HL's parent company was also developing other collectible lines as well. Some were more successful than others but all became "Harbour Lights" products in the minds of most collectors. Anchor Bay ships were one of those. "Days Gone By" was created to be a companion set to Harbour Lights but never materialized after its first four piece release. Another one-time release was "Knights of the Not-So-Round Table", a whimsical takeoff of the popular King Arthur tale. "Skybound" hot air balloon replicas enjoyed some modest success and remains somewhat popular among collectors to this day.
In 2000, Harbour Lights attempted to expand its operation to Europe. The "Pharos Collection" and "British Isles" Collection were meant to be sold only in Britain and other parts of Europe. After the initial release of eight lighthouses, Harbour Lights found that the logistics of producing lighthouses for the European market were too difficult and costly and the European extension was shut down.