Questions & Answers
Buying & Selling
Various Short-Globe Lanterns
While the Adams & Westlake Company dominated the short-globe (3 1/4") lantern market, it was not without competition. Short globe lanterns were also made by Armspear Manufacturing ("1925" model), R.E. Dietz ("#999" model), Handlan ("#355" model) and Lovell-Dressel ("Heavy Duty" model). Handlan also made a "#345" model which took a special 4 1/2" globe but which is usually considered a short-globe lantern. All of these companies had their start in producing tall-globe lanterns and switched to making short-globe lanterns to keep up with the changing market after World War One.
In its original design, Armspear Manufacturing's "1925" model had flat verticals and a distinctive profile. After the early 1930's, this model retained the Armspear name but was manufactured under contract by Adams & Westlake. Its appearance then was similar to A&W's "Kero" model with round-wire verticals and fewer draft holes in the smoke dome.
Even though Dietz already made a popular brakeman's lantern in the "Vesta", the company apparently produced the "#999" to strengthen its hand in the short-globe lantern market. It was introduced in 1929 and discontinued in 1960. There is not much variety in the railroad markings that show up on these lanterns.
Handlan, actually Handlan-Buck Company, continued production of its short-globe models until quite recently although the railroad-supply aspect of the business ended around 1970 or so. Afterwards the company made lanterns as specialty items.Lovell-Dressel's "Heavy Duty" short-globe lanterns remained in production until the late 1960's. Some are known to exist with "PC" or Penn Central markings. Lovell-Dressel became part of the Adams & Westlake Company in 1968.
Following are examples of the short-globe lanterns produced by Armspear, Dietz, Handlan-Buck and Lovell-Dressel.
And the winner is.... Just as steam power was pushed aside by diesel-electric motive power, the kerosene-fueled lantern gave way to the electric, battery-powered lantern. Actually, lanterns in general were made somewhat obsolete by another, altogether different device -- the radio. Today's train crews communicate largely by two-way radio, although there is still a need for lanterns in railroad operations. In fact, a new high-tech trainman's lantern can be seen on Star Headlight & Lantern Company's website.
From a collecting point of view, electric lanterns are not highly sought after, so they can be obtained for a small fraction of what their older predecessors sell for. But many electric lanterns are marked for a railroad, and some are quite colorful. Imagine in 50 to 75 years a bright blue "Conrail" electric lantern commanding the same high auction price that a tall, two-color globe lantern brings nowadays. It could happen.
Right: A Star Headlight & Lantern Co. electric lantern marked "N&W RY" for the Norfolk & Western Ry. This lantern was used by the late Joe Kalinsky, long-time employee of the Pittsburgh & West Virginia Railway and, later on, the N&W which leased P&WV's lines. Of all the original railroad lantern manufacturers, Star Headlight & Lantern is the only one still making lanterns for regular railroad use.