Harmony Kingdom

The Harmony Kingdom Reference Guide
  When Jewellery and Boxes Come Together: 1994

In early 1994, Noel and Lisa decided to introduce their own line of Limoges porcelain boxes, and they travelled to Limoges, France, to explore opportunities. There they quickly surmised that the exclusivity they were looking for would not be possible due to manufacturing procedures and distribution channels. At the time HBC was looking for exclusive designs that could be copyrighted. Since Noel and Lisa were already in Europe, they decided to attend a gift fair in Germany. They walked the show and stumbled upon DoZen Ltd.'s jewellery display where a small selection of animal boxes from England were on exhibit.

Noel and Lisa returned to the U.S. to pursue the source of the British boxes. Noel spoke with Martin for the first time in late February 1994 and said he "would like to buy thousands of his little boxes." Martin simply replied, "We do not make thousands." Martin was offered advance payment and a deal was struck. The original order made by Harmony Ball Company to Antiquark was:

Qty Code Animal Name
400 M17 Toad Princely Thoughts
350 M20 Owl Who'd A Thought
500 M26 Elephant Remiscence
450 M32 Hare All Ears
350 M104 Chimps Inside Joke
400 M106 Penguins Unexpected Arrival
300 M107 Cat Purrfect Friends

In typical Antiquark fashion, they shipped what was availabe. The first shipment arrived in the U.S. in March 1994, and included.

Qty Code Animal Name
95 TJAl Alligator Swamp Song
50 TJPO Pony Day Dreamer
90 TJTI Tiger Of The Same Stripe
95 TJWH Whale Jonah's Hideaway
95 TJTU Turtle Shell Game
94 TJFR Toad Princely Thoughts
95 TJFI Fish School's Out
94 TJCR Crow Trunk Show
93 TJEL Elephanet Reminiscence
96 TJPI Pig Hammin' It Up

More shipments soon followed, including the original order along with eight of the large boxes. If not for Noel's forceful entreaty, Harmony Kingdom as we know it today would never have existed.

HBC initially sold the small boxes with a 16mm chiming pendant on sterling chain and the large boxes with a 25mm chiming bead, later replaced with a 25mm chiming sphere. The boxes were called "Treasure Jests" because they served as treasure chests for jewellery, and also bore humorous designs. Within three months retailers asked for the boxes without the interior jewels and it was clear that the "Treasure Jest" was much more than a glorified jewellery box.

In August 1994, Martin, Corinna and their two children made their first trip to the U.S. to meet with Noel and Lisa who were exhibiting at the New York International Gift Fair. The four bonded immediately. "From day one, Noel and Lisa saw what could be done with these little boxes," Martin says. However, he was reluctant to make major changes in his life. "I had a simple existence in my garden shed and was making a living." Noel's enthusiasm for the boxes finally convinced Martin to work exclusively with HBC and he did not renew his contracts with Mascott Direct and DoZen Ltd. effective December 31, 1994. HBC was given official worldwide distributorship outside of the U.K. commencing January 1995. At this time, Mascott Direct came out with their me-too line "Surprise It's A Box" and promoted it heavily throughout the U.K.

In September 1994, shortly after returning from the New York Gift Fair, Martin hired Pam and Robin Miles to distribute the boxes in the U.K. The Miles' company, Arktype, had little product as the U.S. market was absorbing nearly all of Martin's production. In addition, Arktype was undercapitalised and costly to Antiquark, which was forced to put forward substantial start-up loans. The ark logo on the labels was introduced at this time. The relationship between Arktype and Antiquark dissolved in 1996, and the ark logo on the labels removed.




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