Published: January 31, 2012
On January 4 dealer/collector Joan Lehner died. Joan Hampson was born and grew up in North Plainfield, N.J., and, after attending the Katherine Gibbs School, worked for Bell Labs where she met her husband, Allan Lehner, whom she married in 1959. (According to her nephew, Craig, Joan attracted Allan’s attention by breaking her leg on a company social ski trip.)
In the late 1960s, Joan was able to leave her office job and concentrate on antiques, beginning with exhibiting at antique shows in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. For more than 40 years she was an important dealer/collector with major collections of American folk art, antique toys and holiday collectibles, among other things. Joan was a knowledgeable appraiser as well, and specialized in estate jewelry.
In 2003, her famous and extensive Christmas collection was sold at Noel Barrett Auctions, bringing record prices. The collection had been exhibited at Rockefeller Center and had been featured in magazines including Country Living, Inside Collector and General Store Magazine . Joan was a longtime member of the Antique Toy Collectors of America and the Golden Glow of Christmas Past.
An important part of her life was reserved for animal rescue. Joan was dedicated to the rescue of cats and was known to go out in the snow and cold to provide igloos-shelter for feral cats. She battled the New Jersey bear hunt and openly spoke out against the abuse and suffering of animals used for fur. Friends were able to find a home for her beloved, rescued Siamese cat, Gaby.
No one had more friends than Joan Lehner and she will be remembered as full of heart, warm, friendly, voluble, generous, caring, knowledgeable, inquisitive, smart, interested and interesting. Anyone wishing to give in Joan’s memory may send donations to the Plainfield Area Humane Society, 75 Rock Avenue, Plainfield, NJ 07063 or CATS, 80 Kinderkamack Road, Westwood, NJ 07675.
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