A New Year's postcard from 1913.

A New Year’s postcard from 1913.

It is among the stories that will remain untold.

“Dear Friend,” begins the message on the back of the postcard shown above. “I certainly was surprised to hear of you and that you are married.”

Sent from Christina G. to Mrs. George Haite for New Year’s 1913, the postcard leaves me wondering what happened a century ago that one friend would be caught off guard to learn of the other’s marriage.

While this incident will stay a mystery, there are other stories to be learned from the things we find in the antiques industry. Sometimes, all that’s needed is a little research and the willingness to record the results.

The Alacite crucifix.

The Alacite crucifix.

During the Regional Vintage Lamp Show held last October at Richmond, Indiana, the National Association of Aladdin Lamp Collectors displayed an Alacite crucifix the organization had acquired. The item was a rarity, having never been put into production.

Attending the show was Aggie Thatcher, who provided a first-hand account of the crucifix, which was created by her father, Martin Jones, at the Aladdin factory in Alexandria, Indiana.

“My dad was a presser/blower at Aladdin, and he was the one who made the crucifix,” she said. “They found out the arms bumped off too easily, so they never made them.”

Bill Courter, founder of the Aladdin group and author of several lighting books, noted the scarcity of the prototype. “In Aladdin collecting, it’s one of our rarest items,” he said. Only five are known.

Thatcher couldn’t recall when the crucifix was made, but Courter said it probably dated to 1938 or 1939. Of the three examples her father brought home, the one at the show was passed down through several generations by Thatcher’s sister, the family’s only Catholic, before being sold to the collectors’ club.

Courter recorded the information about the crucifix so that future generations of glass collectors and historians will know its origins.

There’s a lesson here regarding the value of talking to people who have first-hand knowledge of 20th-century collectibles such as the Alacite crucifix. As with the message on the postcard about the marriage of a friend, stories we don’t harvest now are likely to be lost forever.