Thanks to Jim Engel who started the ball rolling and for our friendship that occured as a result, Paul Crist for his input, and to Marion and her family in Long Island for making contact with me. Also, special thanks to Dorian Adam for filling in many of the gaps regarding his father's extraordinary life.
In 1987, I was in New York City. I was sent there to attend a computer training class at IBM. Greatly relieved that lunchtime had finally arrived, I did what every lamp nut would do in this situation, go visit Lilian Nassau's shop.
After seeing the great things that they had to offer, and being reminded by Paul Nassau that 'There's nothing in this store under $40,000', I made as graceful an exit as possible, bearing the full disappointment that I was going to be about $39,500 short.
I then stumbled upon an antique Co-op a few blocks over. Two unusually small leaded glass chandeliers caught my eye. They were no larger than 16-18" in diameter, both flat rimmed, each design included a good number of pieces, dark purples, lilacs, blues, some greens all nicely put together, and nothing like I had seen before. The maker clearly knew how to do lamps. Unusually, each shade carried the signature 'A Hart' in tiny glass pieces, this was integrated into the design of each lamp.I asked about these lamps and the store owner said they were made by an Anthony Hart.The owner went on to say that Mr. Hart was an ex-Handel employee. Lunchtime was nearly over and I had to rush back to class. The lamps made a big impression on me. Can you tell?
In early 1990s, I saw an ad in Antique trader with a picture of an A. Hart table lamp. An individual was seeking lamps, the caption underneath caught my eye, 'Collector will pay up to $50,000'. A while later in the same newspaper, another ad placed by the same person was seeking information about A. Hart to be included in an upcoming book.
Ten years passed and although I had not forgotten about these lamps, not a single lamp had surfaced during that time. After I created this website, I thought it time to start finding out a bit more about this little known lamp maker. This desire was fuelled partly due to the chronic lack of information we have about the early lamp builders. Here was another somewhat obscure artist that we knew nothing about. I contacted dozens of people who really ought to have at least heard of Hart. I tried the top three Decorative Arts people at Sotheby's and never even got a reply. Paul Crist, of course, came through. He knew the whereabouts of at least six, and that they were relatively recent lamps. During photography sessions for his book Mosaic Shades, he had deliberately passed up opportunities to photograph these Hart lamps, one he had seen apparently had some early 1980s Uroboros glass in it.
As luck would have it, I got an e-mail from Jim Engel. Jim has a lamp repair/restoration business about 90 minutes from where I live. " I have a Hart lamp here, photos, and a bio.". He was equally enamoured and intrigued with these lamps and so I visited his shop to trade stories and take pictures. Paul suggested testing for modern day foil. I asked Jim if he could do that and sure enough, it seemed to confirm Paul's assesment that this particular lamp was recent, i.e. made after 1974 when foil tape and acrylic adhesives became available. There is evidence that other lamps he made were older, the oldest so far being from 1951.
What I do know is that these lamps are great pieces of work and should be enjoyed. Their lack of pedigree is more than made up for by their beautiful design and execution, they are superior to some of the more well known makers. As Jim put it, they are lamps that lamp makers would enjoy.