also known as "Monsieur Ara"
In 2003.

I was born in 1950 in Istanbul (Turkey) in an Armenian family where most of us were familiar with French culture as well as with classical European music. I spoke Armenian as my mother tongue and Turkish, the country's language, right from the beginning, so it was easy to me to learn further languages, such as French, English, German and to some extent, Italian. I have today the privilege and chance to speak most of them and have thus friends from all over the world.

I studied in Istanbul in a French college and high school, and in the former Robert College, an American university (now the Turkish Bosporus University). In 1971, I decided to leave that country and to resume my studies abroad. Frankfurt in Germany was the place where I was to spend the following eight years. I first studied chemistry, then decided not to be a Chemist and started looking for new perspectives for the future. Chance put an old lamp on my way. In October 1976, I found a bakelite-lamp on the sidewalk, restored it and used it in my student's room. The following weekend, I started going to the flea-market, bought more and more parts and combined them to complete lamps. They were old as far as the individual parts were concerned, and also in their look and technical configuration. I could sell them on announcements and in antique shops where I paid some 30% to the shop's owner.

In 1981, I could open my current shop in Paris. In the meanwhile, I had studied books or catalogues found and copied in libraries and sometimes also originals bought from antiquarians. I had learned how to thread beads to make beaded fringes on replacement of damaged or lost originals. This special craft attracted journalists, and their articles made me known in periodicals dedicated to antiques or inner architecture. More and more, I got specialized in non-electric lamps: kerosene-lamps, gas lamps as well as early electric lighting prior to the 1920s.

Some rare kerosene-lamps in full splendor.

My stocks were quite voluminous when I settled down in the rue Flatters in 1981: hundreds of glass shades, ceramic counterweights and large amounts of metal parts. Some years later, in 1985, I started collecting kerosene-lamps and still a couple of years later, in 1989, gas lamps. These changes came into my life after I met passionate collectors: Günter Fries and Ralph Schoeneborn (Germany) for the kerosene-lamps and Marc Charlet (France) for the gas-lighting. Together with other friends, I founded in 1991 AFEGAZ, the European Gas Flame Association. The International Guild of Lamp Researchers and the Rushlight Club give me the opportunity to get familiarized with American lamps, and help fellow collectors to complete their knowledge on the European lamp production. As a general rule, I owe most of my knowledge on lamps to generous friends who provide me with valuable catalogue material and literature either as paper copies or on CDs with scanned images. Today, my documents on the lighting techniques of the modern era (late 18th century to early 20th) can be evaluated at 60,000 pages of photocopies, well over 500 books in original and also CDs and photos of lamps seen in fellow collections, museums, streets, monuments, etc. Once again, my ability to read languages gives me access to this rich bibliography.

A small museum in the back-room of my shop, the so-called Museum for Old Lighting dedicated to non-electric lamps, groups hundreds of burners and parts such as mantles and chimneys, also complete lamps in functioning order with the original fuel: colza-oil, gas, kerosene, carbide, gasoline, spirit, etc.

Displayer with rare gas-burners.

I am married; my wife Geneviève shares with me my preferences for old furniture and decorative items especially from the English Arts and Crafts Movement (W.A.S. Benson), as well as my taste for fine food, music, cats and gardening.

Ara Kebapcioglu
Lumière de l'Oeil
4 Rue Flatters
Paris, France
Phone: 00.33(0)1 47 07 63 47
Lumière de l'Oeil

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