THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SERIAL NUMBERS
In the world of collectibles, serial numbers, (also called flag numbers because the number would be hand written on the lighthouse's "flag", or name plate), play a very important role in the integrity of a limited edition as well as authenticity of that item. Harbour Lights is no exception.
There are many different categories of Harbour Lights which have serial numbers. Let's start with Limited Editions.
As described in a prior tutorial, Limited Editions are just that, limited in number. Once the predetermined maximum amount of each piece is reached, that piece is then "retired" and no more of that exact lighthouse or Anchor Bay ship will ever be made again. Each piece in the edition will be individually numbered from 1 to the very last piece. No two pieces will have the same number. That not only insures that there are an exact number of pieces produced, it also makes each piece "personal" as ownership of that particular piece can be traced.
Do particular serial numbers really matter? To a true collector, absolutely! The lower the number, the more desirable the piece is. A double digit serial number, (10-99), can be a very hot commodity. Collectors with double digit serial numbers would consider themselves lucky, yet many would keep searching to replace their item with one with an even lower serial number. (Thus, the owner of a piece with a serial number in, say, the 80's, would search out an even lower number. He/she may get lucky and perhaps be able to acquire a piece in the 50's. Great trade-up, but he/she may still search out an even lower number. Many collectors termed this as part of the "thrill of the hunt".) In order to get a double digit serial number, collectors had to sign up for "auto-ship" with their respective dealer. What that meant was the collector would agree to purchase every Limited Edition lighthouse as soon as they were released. By doing that, the customer was assured that every lighthouse he purchased would always have the same serial number as every other batch purchased.
A single digit serial number is a collector's dream! When Harbour Lights released each new lighthouse, the Youngers would hold back numbers 1-9 from direct sales. (Rumor has it that Bill would hold #1 for his private collection and Nancy had #2). The remainder of the single digits would usually be used as auction or raffle items to raise money for charities.
Most Event Exclusives, (Reunions, Regional events, Store events, etc), would also be similarly numbered, although a handful, for some unknown reason, never received that distinction. These were normally produced in much smaller quantities, so any number that could be obtained was usually a "good" one.
Collectors Society pieces, also individually numbered, could also be designated to collectors with their "owned" number. Similar to auto-ship Limited Editions, the collector who purchased each year's Society membership could match the number of the Society pieces to his auto-ship number. i.e., if a collector "owned" #36 through his Limited Edition auto-ship, he/she could also receive #36 in his/her Society pieces, as long as he/she remained a member.
When GLOWS, or Open Editions, were released, they also were individually numbered. During the first year of release, each GLOW had a prefix letter "A" before the number. The second year of the piece sported a "B" prefix, the third a "C", etc. Each year that a new batch had to be produced, the next sequencial letter would be used.
This Little Light of Mine, (LLOM's or "Little Lights"), were numbered only in very rare cases. The first instance was in 2007. Although LL129 Thomas Point had been produced for a few previous years, 250 of them were specially stamped to commemorate the relighting of Thomas Point Lighthouse. Each was individually numbered and signed by Bill Younger at the relighting event and sold to raise funds for the lighthouse. Other numbered Limited Editions, from 250-500 each, were produced for various lighthouse preservation groups for fund raising purposes. These included...
LL175 Hunting Island, SC (250)
LL283 Point Aux Barques, MI (1200 unnumbered + 300 w/ numbers and a special commemorative stamp)
LL284 Pottawatomie, WI (1500 unnumbered + 300 w/ numbers and a special commemorative stamp)
LL290 Point Cabrillo, CA (300)
LL291 Chatham, MA (300)
LL298 Huntington Harbor, NY (300)
LL299 Middle Island, MI (300)
LL300 Cedar Island, NY (300)
LL301 Crisp Point (300 summer + 300 w/ fall colors)
LL302 Detour Reef (unknown amount)
LL303 Blackistone, MD (500)
LL304 Race Point, MA (500)
LL305 Hooper Island, MD (500)