"A Reference Guide to Miniature Makers Marks"
Allie & Lee Frank's Book Gets High 'Marks'
This 550 pg. hardcover reference book contains 880 artisans who create miniature items. In it you will find their signature/marking, honors bestowed upon them, information on magazine articles about their pieces, and autobiographies. Miniature Collectors you and your heirs can now protect your valuable treasures. This reference material can help you record pertinent facts about pieces in your collection.
July 1, 1996, the Frank book "A Reference Guide to Miniature Makers Marks" became a reality! When Allie and Lee Frank began to inventory their miniature collection several years ago, they realized one of the most important parts of that record was to know who created the miniature pieces they had purchased. Their collection was begun in the late 1970s with miniature treasures from Allie's mother. "As time went on and they talked to other collectors, it be-came evident that the need for a method of recognizing artisans' marks was imperative," states Allie. A "booklet" seemed a simple solution that would benefit all those who had a love of miniatures. They began their in-depth research six years ago. The list of artisans expanded until their original concept grew into a 550 page book profiling 880 artisans!
The project presented many special challenges. Every source of names imaginable was utilized. They began with my 15 years accumulation of program books and personal files. Direct phone calls, visits to museums to search for marks, and accessing any available sources were pursued. They felt an extreme sense of frustration when over 1,800 questionnaires were mailed, with only 400 respondents. "It seems that many people did not fully understand the purpose or thrust of our planned book, and therefore failed to respond or did not fill out the questionnaire completely," comments Lee.
The book was primarily written to provide a reference guide collectors could use to identify pieces in their collections as time goes by and memory dims. It will also provide invaluable help to museums and/or family beneficiaries to identify pieces in a collection. It provides insight into the artisans through their autobiographies and biographies, with personal commentary, within an historical context.
All of the textual information contained was supplied by one or more of the following sources: the individual artisan, a second party from personal knowledge or contact, NAME AOH profiles and Nutshell News and Miniature Collector articles.
The Franks made every attempt to decipher all information obtained in a clear, concise manner to assure its accuracy, even to the extent of direct communication for clarification where question or doubt was raised. They then elected to self publish.
Their ultimate goal to produce a reference guide that is as comprehensive as possible for posterity has certainly been met. Their intent that this reference guide book add value to miniatures and aid in the hobby being recognized as an art form (as it so richly deserves to be) seems a realistic one. It is also a good read. The first time I had an opportunity to peruse its pages I stayed up all night!
This review by Phyllis Tucker was originally published in Miniature Gazette, Vol. 24, No. 4; Winter
1996, page 13
(The Official Publication of the National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts)