Railroad Lantern Oddities

This page presents odd or unusual lanterns. If you have information or comments about any of these, email us via the Contact Us page.

"Top-Fount" Lantern. The following was sent to our Q&A Board in the Fall of 2006: "I'm writing to see if anyone out there has ever come across a lantern of this sort... I salvaged this from a house built in that sort of 1920's 'Medieval Style' in Berkeley, Ca. that was being renovated. It so unusual I thought it worthwhile saving. I've never seen another. It is an Adams & Westlake lantern, and I think it must be the model #11, as there is no other model designation on it. Typical #39 globe size, and as a lantern not all that unusual. It once had two horizontal guards, but now only one. It was electrified, so there is no globe retainer or other 'guts' in it. It was painted black way back when. It is clearly stamped 'Santa Fe A', on the brim of the top, visible from underneath. But here's the peculiar part: On top of the brim has been affixed a fuel tank! It is very nicely designed and well-made, has a filler cap and a little pipe out the back that would carry the heated oil down a tiny clamp-on tube to the burner below. there is an appropriate hole in the back of the fount area to accomodate the tube. Most likely, the tube ran into a regular oil fount at the bottom which had a normal burner, but this is speculation. I don't think it was a carbide conversion. Has anybody else ever come across one of these? Was this fascinating addition done by the factory, or was it an inventor's experiment...? Thanks." Click on any image below for a larger version.
Reliable with "Vesta" Globe. Shown at right is an Adlake "Reliable" wire base lantern with a small "Vesta" size globe marked "USA". The lantern itself has no railroad markings.The lantern seems designed exactly for a 4-1/2" globe as the top globe retainer is small and perfect fit. Normal "Reliables" take a tall 5-5/8" globe which is too large for this one. See our Reliables page. This lantern is discussed in Question #794 on our Q&A Board. Click on any image for a larger version. Photos by Jim Wright.

Short Globe "Casey". Above Left. The lantern on the left appears to be a short globe "Casey" lantern. It is shown next to a regular tall-globe "Casey". What is unusual is that normal "Casey's" are "tall-globe" lanterns. Was this a special sample model? A fake? Update: We received the following in Summer, 2009: "About 10 years ago I saw another short globe Keystone Lantern, but this didn't have the drop font,  Instead it had an insert font.  PRR bought tall lanterns from Keystone called "The Keystone", instead of the Casey that had an insert font.  This shorty I saw looked like a derivative of that particular lantern.  That lantern was not RR marked and I looked it over and over, trying to figure if it was redone by someone. I always regretted not buying that curiosity piece.  I believe your example and the one I saw were legitimate.  Apparently few were manufactured. {Thanks to Bob F.} Above Right. Closeup thumbnails from various angles. Click on any image for larger versions. The owner added these comments: "The upper globe retainer is identical to an Adlake Kero, it is held in with the original tall globe retainer flat tabs. The cage does not show any sign of modification. With the Kero retainer I lean towards it being modified, although it could also have been an easy way for Keystone ( Perkins Marine Lamp Co.) to experiment with the short globe."
Odd Bail Mount. Right. The lantern at right has a C.T. Ham #39" brass top and C.T. Ham twist-off fount. However, the "loops" on the side that attach to the bail are normally found only on Handlan tall-globe lanterns. These loops were a Handlan feature. A number of examples can be seen on our Handlan tall-globe lantern page. So were parts of two lanterns assembled into one by a hobbyist? Or did Handlan make lanterns for C.T. Ham at some point under a subcontract, perhaps using C.T. Ham tops and bottoms? Such subcontracting arrangements were not uncommon among lantern manufacturers.
Comment on Above Sent by Email. "The loop-style frame bail attachment on the Ham BTWB [Brass Top Wire Bottom] lantern shown in "oddities" was used by several manufacturers besides those manufactured by Buck. Many collectors cite the looped verticals as distinguishing and exclusive to Buck lanterns, but not so. For example, this scheme was used on some models of early removable-globe lanterns manufactured by Parmelee and Bonnell and others. Barrett's book shows a B&MRR BTBB [Brass Top Bell Bottom] manufactured by P&B that has this feature. I have an odd, early LS&MS Ry BTBB made by P&B, a BTBB made by RR Signal L&L Co., and an early LE&StL RY BTBB of unknown manufacture all using the looped verticals to attach the frame-mounted bail. This method of attaching the bail to the frame seems very simple and effective, and may pre-date any other scheme (??) Although early removable globe lanterns with chimney bail attachments are very eye-appealing and desirable to collectors, they relied on the reflector hinge and latch spring wire guide solder joints to hold the lid secure and were undoubtedly not reliable in service. " A.S., 5-31-05,
Left. There are a couple unusual things about the Armspear "1925" lantern shown at left -- marked "C&O Ry" for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway. It has a "switchman's" bail -- the rounded wooden handle; the top appears to be plated with a harder metal (nickel?) than the usual "tin"; and it has a label for "H.I. Shelton" attached to the lid. Was the plating done by the factory? Is this likely a low-tech presentation lantern or some employee's customized lantern? Click on any image for larger versions.
Comment on Above Sent by Email. I have seen several of these lanterns. Some of them have employee names, like a presentation lantern, and others have "The George Washington", "The Sportsman", or "The F.F.V." in place of the names.The top is completely made out of Nickel plated brass(magnet does not stick). These are quite rare. I have also seen one that someone had bead blasted (which ruined it), and so by seeing that I know for sure it is brass. The Handle is not wood, it is something like plastic or bakelite. I bought this very lantern off of E-bay. Also, the whole frame is plated with something other than the usual tin. Its a matte gray kind of stuff, maybe Cadmium. Also, I have seen an Adlake Kero, top chromed, labeled with "The Sportsman" on the chimney. I do not know if the top on it was brass or not, it was on E-bay as well, but unfortunately I was not the lucky bidder. All of these Armspears I have seen usually had clear etched C&O kero globes in them. All in all, a very desirable, interesting C&O lantern. - Tom Clay 8-22-06
More odd lanterns are shown below.....
Here is a picture of a factory made Handlan bellbottom with a 4 1/4 globe. Believe it or not, the gold paint was also factory done at the request of Wabash. Do not know any other railroads ordered these nor have I seen this in a Handlan catalog but I have not seen that many Handlan catalogs. The lid is marked "WABASH" and the globe is etched "WABASH". Click on the image for a larger version. Collection of Bill Kajdzik
Here is a "shop" made bellbottom made from a couple of short globe Adlake Keros. The lid and the "bell" are stamped "ICRR" and the globe id also etched ICRR. The fount is also custom made. Click on the image for a larger version. Collection of Bill Kajdzik
"Short Reliable". While the A&W "Reliable" is normally a "tall globe" lantern, a collector sent us pictures of a short globe version in the Summer of 2011 -- to accompany question #2168 on our Q&A Board.
Another "Short Reliable". Below are pictures of another short Reliable sent in by Ken Andrews. He writes, "This one is marked for the Pennsylvania System. The frame and globe retainer are Adlake 250, the top is a Reliable. The pot is unmarked but has a brass kero type burner marked "1925", My thought is that the Pennsy wanted short globe lanterns marked for the Pennsylvania System and this was the easiest way for Adlake to furnish them. I might add that at one time I had in my collection a lantern with a PRR Kero top on a Reliable frame. I'm positive it was not something put together by a collector. We also have the PRR Keystone 39's which were factory modified to take a Handlan 4 1/2" globe. The "Standard Railroad of the World" wasn't always standard." -Ken Andrews [Thanks, Ken!]
Odd Reliable      

Thanks to everyone who sent photos and comments for this page!