While at first glance stained glass windows would seem as permanent a church feature as the walls themselves, there is actually a long tradition of moving and relocating these beauties much as one would with paintings or statuary.
Sometimes stained glass is salvaged when the changing taste of the parish precipitates a move within a building to make room for a newer work. Some moves are the result of renovations or updates to an existing structure which necessitate relocating windows. Today, the availability of antique stained glass is more often a result of population shift causing individual churches to trim their schedules, close completely, or sell their property to another denomination.
What do people/organizations do when they find themselves with stained glass windows they no longer need or want to replace? Believe it or not, there are an unlimited number of options. Should you sell, should you consign to an auction seller, should you remove and take them to your next facility? Should you remove and put in storage to donate to others at some point or should you simply leave the windows in their original location and walk away after a building sale or foreclosure, fire or vandalism? All of these may be good options but we can’t give you our unequaled experience and advice until we know what you have and when it comes to painted windows in place, no one knows more or has acquired more than King Richard’s. [Click here to go directly to our removal needs form]
Reuse of the windows resolves two key issues: the high cost of newly designed windows and the inferior quality of most new windows. Reuse is a rare opportunity to obtain true vintage artwork that will not only be monetarily more valuable the day King Richard’s installs it, but will exceed the true measurement of quality by being even more valuable 10, 50, 100 years from now. It has been estimated that 95% of stained glass made today depreciates at a faster rate than a new car. We see this today with simple stained glass windows made 50 years ago which still have no resale value due to their lack of quality craftsmanship. If this so-called “artwork” has no monetary value, what kind of inspiration, devotional or mystical value does it serve? Why does no one want these windows today?
Relocating stained glass windows can have many associated costs. Design and engineering fees, storage fees, and repair work to the windows are all financial considerations. However, even in the most extensive restoration projects, the re-use of antique windows provides considerable cost savings compared to new windows of a similar quality all the while appreciating instead of depreciating. And if economic sense is not enough of a reason, then the opportunity to preserve a piece of our cultural history, much of which was designed and installed more than a hundred years ago by our ancestors and founding church members, should provide the needed impetus. Abandonment of these treasures would deprive future generations of the calming beauty of these sacred pieces of art.
In the Beginning
As with many purchases today, buyers of antique stained glass windows often head to the internet where they “shop for a bargain”, browse antique store listings, Craig’s List or auctions and sift through site upon site offering single sacred windows at low, low prices. As the saying goes, buyer beware! Just as price is not the only reason to consider re-use, it should also not be your only guide when choosing a place to purchase your windows. Look for companies which have an obvious respect and appreciation for religious art and strict guidelines about whom they will work with and where they peddle their wares. Although the rules of removal may vary, all should ensure that the works of art are treated with respect. At King Richard’s our rules are stricter than any other in the market. We only allow windows to be placed in sacred environments that promote a mutual goal of helping worshippers experience grace and a deeper sense of the Divine. We have yet to see anyone else at an auction or internet auction site concerned about this, for them it’s all about getting the rent money at any cost. If you want quality artwork or antiques, you go to Christie’s or Sotheby’s; if you want a quality set of windows for your sacred space, you come to King Richard’s.
Yes, we acquire and preserve Tiffany, LaFarge, Tillenhoust and Lamb every year.
Seek Advice from an Expert
There can be many hidden costs associated with the purchase of antique stained glass windows; just ask your local stained glass shop that wants you to buy new windows from them. They will tell you it will cost too much to work with antique windows as their business is selling you new windows. At King Richard’s, we frankly discuss any needed removal and relocation costs up front and have the most experience to determine the appropriate size and style of windows needed. We also provide design advice so that the product you purchase provides you with the desired liturgical environment. When you sit down with King Richard’s, we will discuss:
In most cases, King Richard’s is uniquely qualified to be your one source for removal, delivery and installation thus creating additional value and savings to your church. Relying on our traditionally trained stained glass craftsmen and on our construction knowledge gained from hundreds of stained glass window removals/installations, King Richard’s can provide the perfect pairing of the aesthetic and the practical. For simple removal, documentation and storage, King Richard’s is the one call to make.
[Contact us here for a free consultation on the preservation of your stained glass windows]