A GREENE & GREENE LANTERN FINDS ITS WAY BACK
by Ted Bosley
The news came to me on May 12, in an email from a friend: a Greene & Greene lantern was up for sale on Craig’s List. Even though I typically discover that these listing usually involve modern reproductions, I hurried to check out this particular lead. From the photo on Craig’s List I was pretty sure that this lantern was authentic. I wasted no time sending a text to the number on the listing, and once I was able to speak directly to the owner I learned how he came to have the piece. Then I knew: we were talking about a genuine, circa 1904, Greene & Greene light fixture. The owner, a lovely gentleman in Salem, Oregon named Gary Games, was looking to sell the piece so he could move to South America with a down-sized list of possessions. The price he was asking for the lantern was something The Gamble House could afford, so I reasoned that I shouldn’t delay in making a commitment. I might add that the lantern is from an important period in the Greenes’ careers that deserves even better representation in the permanent Greene & Greene exhibit at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Garden in San Marino. Fingers crossed, we’d be able to buy the piece and put it on exhibit for all to enjoy.
The next day my wife Denise and I were aboard Jet Blue from Long Beach to Portland (what a great fare, and on short notice, too!), where we rented wheels and made the one-hour drive south to Salem, the state capital. Gary, it turns out, had been an antique dealer in Pasadena in the early 1970s. His shop, which was on North Fair Oaks just above Colorado back in the day, was called Rags and Bones. He sold the business in 1973, but by then had acquired the lantern, which he recounts came to him from an older gentleman who dropped into the shop one day to sell it. The man said it had come from a Greene & Greene house that had been demolished. We still don’t know which house it’s from (a good detective project for our curator), but it has all the tell-tale signs of Greene & Greene design and craftsmanship from the circa-1904 period. Denise and I spent a delightful few hours with Mr. Games, including dinner, and then spent the night in Salem before heading back home to Pasadena the next day. The lantern was too big to fit on the plane with us, however, so before we got to the airport we had the lantern packed with utmost care had it and shipped to the Gamble House to prepare it for eventual exhibit. The lantern was heading home to Pasadena, and so were we, and somewhere the Greenes are smiling.