Nontas and his brother James Kontes were both born in Vineland, New Jersey, where they spent most of their life. They both started working in glass in the mid 1930s in a factory partially owned by their father. In 1943, they opened their own scientific glass company, 'Kontes Glass Company'. Both of the brothers started experimenting with paperweight making in 1975, after being inspired by the works of Charles Kaziun Jr. Working independently, both James and Nontas produced lampwork paperweights with great dimension, that exhibited a refined artistic achievement with an impeccable sense of form, space, and color. As they made paperweights for hobby, few weights were ever produced by the brothers but they are among the most prized and sought after by collectors.
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