Vintage Railroad Lanterns, Lamps & Lenses

In the early days of railroads, operating after dark was a difficult and dangerous proposition. The lights they had available to use as locomotive headlights, switch signal lights, to direct and inspect the trains, and to direct and sort passengers, luggage, and cargo in train yards were generally "dead flame" whale oil lamps and lanterns. Dead flame lanterns rely on convection to bring fresh air inside the lantern globe around the bottom, and the globes and air intakes are shaped to guide airflow around the flame. This design helps to prevent the wind from blowing out the flame, as it is sitting in the middle in "dead" air, but it does not cast a bright light. The glass globes on these early railroad lanterns were fixed to the fuel font, making access to the burner and wick area difficult.


Subcategories:
Auctions Buy It Now All
Enter Zip or Post Code for shipping:
3,294 itemsPriceShippingTotalTime Left
Prisco No. 2 Pritchard Strong Co. Rochester, NY Bid Now »

Prisco No. 2 Pritchard Strong Co. Rochester, NY

Bid: $70.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$70.00
Plus shipping
38 mins
Prisco No. 2 Pritchard Strong Co. Rochester, NY Inspector Lantern with magnifier Bid Now »

Prisco No. 2 Pritchard Strong Co. Rochester, NY Inspector Lantern with magnifier

Bid: $75.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$75.00
Plus shipping
39 mins
Dietz H-10 Junior Wagon Cold Blast Kerosene Lantern Bid Now »

Dietz H-10 Junior Wagon Cold Blast Kerosene Lantern

Bid: $35.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$35.00
Plus shipping
40 mins
Railroad Lantern Bid Now »

Railroad Lantern

Bid: $29.99
Ships:
$17.95
$47.94
40 mins
Vintage Deitz NO.39 New York.USA Railroad Lantern Frame ONLY Buy Now »

Vintage Deitz NO.39 New York.USA Railroad Lantern Frame ONLY

Buy: $19.99 Ships:
Based on Zip
$19.99
Plus shipping
Buy now
1 hr
4 mins
 CABOOSE TAIL LAMP LENS RED KOPP GLASS 6-3/8" NEW Buy Now »

CABOOSE TAIL LAMP LENS RED KOPP GLASS 6-3/8" NEW

Buy: $34.99 Ships:
$10.00
$44.99
Buy now
1 hr
10 mins
Clear Glass Lantern C8 Globe Bid Now »

Clear Glass Lantern C8 Globe

Bid: $4.99
Ships:
$14.99
$19.98
1 hr
13 mins
Dietz Monarch Kerosene Lantern with Red Globe Bid Now »

Dietz Monarch Kerosene Lantern with Red Globe

Bid: $25.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$25.00
Plus shipping
1 hr
25 mins
Old Locomotive wrench Buy Now »

Old Locomotive wrench

Buy: $40.00 Ships:
Free
$40.00
Buy now
1 hr
29 mins
 (Caboose LIGHTS  INSIDE  WILL TURN TO SEE WANT TOO!! Bid Now » Buy Now »

(Caboose LIGHTS INSIDE WILL TURN TO SEE WANT TOO!!

RARE SEE PICTURES!!!!!!!!!!!
Bid: $159.99
Buy: $210.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$159.99
Plus shipping
Buy now
1 hr
40 mins
Clear Glass Lantern Globe Bid Now »

Clear Glass Lantern Globe

Bid: $4.99
Ships:
$14.99
$19.98
1 hr
50 mins
Antique Vintage Dietz Lantern Loc-Nob Patd 3-10-14 Blizzard Bid Now » Buy Now »

Antique Vintage Dietz Lantern Loc-Nob Patd 3-10-14 Blizzard

Bid: $70.00
Buy: $150.00
Ships:
$16.00
$86.00
Buy now
1 hr
50 mins
ADLAKE KERO LANTERN RAILROAD TRAIN  RED BULB USA CANADA PATENT Buy Now »

ADLAKE KERO LANTERN RAILROAD TRAIN RED BULB USA CANADA PATENT

Buy: $35.00 Ships:
$12.31
$47.31
Buy now
1 hr
53 mins
Vintage Dietz No. 2 D-Lite Kerosene Lantern Bid Now »

Vintage Dietz No. 2 D-Lite Kerosene Lantern

Bid: $19.99
Ships:
$17.99
$37.98
2 hrs
1 min
Sun Brand vintage oil lantern nautical red CAPE COD RECYCLES Bid Now »

Sun Brand vintage oil lantern nautical red CAPE COD RECYCLES

Bid: $15.00
Ships:
$15.00
$30.00
2 hrs
8 mins
NorLeigh Diamond Barn/Railroad/House Lantern Bid Now »

NorLeigh Diamond Barn/Railroad/House Lantern

Bid: $15.00
Ships:
$10.00
$25.00
2 hrs
24 mins
Dietz railroad/barn kerosene Little Wizard lantern Bid Now »

Dietz railroad/barn kerosene Little Wizard lantern

Bid: $15.00
Ships:
$10.00
$25.00
2 hrs
24 mins
VINTAGE SWALLOW BRAND LANTERN #235 Bid Now »

VINTAGE SWALLOW BRAND LANTERN #235

Bid: $9.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$9.99
Plus shipping
2 hrs
26 mins
Berger Hot Blast kerosene lantern w/embossed B2 globe Bid Now »

Berger Hot Blast kerosene lantern w/embossed B2 globe

Bid: $41.00
Ships:
$16.00
$57.00
2 hrs
36 mins
Vtg/Antique Embruy Mfg Co. Collectible Lantern # 40 Warsaw NY USA Bid Now »

Vtg/Antique Embruy Mfg Co. Collectible Lantern # 40 Warsaw NY USA

Bid: $21.99
Ships:
$9.00
$30.99
2 hrs
40 mins
Winged wheel 350 kerosene lanterns w/ clear globes Bid Now »

Winged wheel 350 kerosene lanterns w/ clear globes

Bid: $20.00
Ships:
$10.00
$30.00
2 hrs
40 mins
Cold blast kerosene lantern globe Bid Now »

Cold blast kerosene lantern globe

Bid: $12.50
Ships:
$7.50
$20.00
2 hrs
42 mins
Vintage PRR Pennsylvania Kerosene Lantern Clear Lens Bid Now »

Vintage PRR Pennsylvania Kerosene Lantern Clear Lens

Bid: $49.95
Ships:
Based on Zip
$49.95
Plus shipping
2 hrs
45 mins
Dietz No 40 Traffic Gard, Syracuse NY Lantern, Kerosene Oil Lamp - Vintage Buy Now »

Dietz No 40 Traffic Gard, Syracuse NY Lantern, Kerosene Oil Lamp - Vintage

Buy: $39.00 Ships:
$9.62
$48.62
Buy now
2 hrs
46 mins
Dietz Comet non kerosene lantern new in box w/red globe Bid Now »

Dietz Comet non kerosene lantern new in box w/red globe

Bid: $50.00
Ships:
$9.50
$59.50
2 hrs
46 mins
1920s Southern Pacific C & O Railroad Oil Lantern Adlake Ceiling Light Electric Buy Now »

1920s Southern Pacific C & O Railroad Oil Lantern Adlake Ceiling Light Electric

Buy: $275.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$275.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
2 hrs
50 mins
EMBURY MFG  LANTERN SUPREME WARSAW and Dietz Hy-Low Lanterns Bid Now »

EMBURY MFG LANTERN SUPREME WARSAW and Dietz Hy-Low Lanterns

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$10.00
Plus shipping
2 hrs
55 mins
Antique Paull's  #0 Kerosene Lantern Railroad Pat 1890 1903 Ditz Red Globe Bid Now »

Antique Paull's #0 Kerosene Lantern Railroad Pat 1890 1903 Ditz Red Globe

Bid: $8.89
Ships:
Based on Zip
$8.89
Plus shipping
2 hrs
55 mins
BR PR Globe B & S RR Lantern Railroad Rochester Buffalo Pittsburgh Susquehanna Buy Now »

BR PR Globe B & S RR Lantern Railroad Rochester Buffalo Pittsburgh Susquehanna

Buy: $250.00 Ships:
$15.00
$265.00
Buy now
2 hrs
55 mins
VINTAGE LITTLE WIZARD KEROSENE DIETZ LANTERN BARN RAILROAD WESTERN 1923 Bid Now » Buy Now »

VINTAGE LITTLE WIZARD KEROSENE DIETZ LANTERN BARN RAILROAD WESTERN 1923

Bid: $40.00
Buy: $70.00
Ships:
$10.00
$50.00
Buy now
3 hrs
9 mins
Handlan St. Louis Lantern,  Service Kerosene Oil Lamp - Vintage Buy Now »

Handlan St. Louis Lantern, Service Kerosene Oil Lamp - Vintage

Buy: $44.99 Ships:
$11.62
$56.61
Buy now
3 hrs
9 mins
VINTAGE DRESSEL RAILROAD LANTERN REHAB / PARTS   C414 Bid Now »

VINTAGE DRESSEL RAILROAD LANTERN REHAB / PARTS C414

Bid: $24.00
Ships:
$14.98
$38.98
3 hrs
10 mins
CORNING NX RAILROAD LANTERN GLOBE  3 3/8 BY 3 1/4  Bid Now »

CORNING NX RAILROAD LANTERN GLOBE 3 3/8 BY 3 1/4

Bid: $17.95
Ships:
$9.95
$27.90
3 hrs
10 mins
RED  RAILROAD LANTERN GLOBE 4 3/8 " BASE 2 3/4 " TOP 2 " MARKED K WITH A CIRCLE Bid Now »

RED RAILROAD LANTERN GLOBE 4 3/8 " BASE 2 3/4 " TOP 2 " MARKED K WITH A CIRCLE

Bid: $17.95
Ships:
$7.98
$25.93
3 hrs
10 mins
Antique Adlake Kero sp lines 151 Railroad Kerosene Lamp Nice Bid Now »

Antique Adlake Kero sp lines 151 Railroad Kerosene Lamp Nice

Bid: $89.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$89.99
Plus shipping
3 hrs
14 mins
Vintage Antique Red ELGIN Kerosene/Oil Lantern ~ No.10 Globe Buy Now »

Vintage Antique Red ELGIN Kerosene/Oil Lantern ~ No.10 Globe

Buy: $15.98 Ships:
Based on Zip
$15.98
Plus shipping
Buy now
3 hrs
34 mins
Dressel No. 1144 Kerosene Lantern Instructions! Bid Now »

Dressel No. 1144 Kerosene Lantern Instructions!

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
Free
$10.00
3 hrs
36 mins
ALADDIN IMPROVED LOX-ON MANTLE FOR 12-B-C-21c KEROSENE MANTLE LAMPS - NOS IN BOX Bid Now »

ALADDIN IMPROVED LOX-ON MANTLE FOR 12-B-C-21c KEROSENE MANTLE LAMPS - NOS IN BOX

Bid: $10.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$10.99
Plus shipping
3 hrs
41 mins
Little Wizard Dietz NY USA vintage lantern nautical blue CAPE COD RECYCLES Bid Now »

Little Wizard Dietz NY USA vintage lantern nautical blue CAPE COD RECYCLES

Bid: $15.00
Ships:
$15.00
$30.00
3 hrs
43 mins
Vintage Railroad Lantern  Clear Globe   Bid Now »

Vintage Railroad Lantern Clear Globe

Bid: $82.00
Ships:
$15.99
$97.99
3 hrs
46 mins
ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD CLEAR ETCHED ADLAKE KERO 3 1/4" GLOBE BY CORNING GLASS Bid Now »

ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD CLEAR ETCHED ADLAKE KERO 3 1/4" GLOBE BY CORNING GLASS

Bid: $17.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$17.99
Plus shipping
3 hrs
48 mins
2-YELLOW RAILROAD SWITCH Lantern Target/Reflector w/4 3/4" center 9 1/2" ACROSS Bid Now »

2-YELLOW RAILROAD SWITCH Lantern Target/Reflector w/4 3/4" center 9 1/2" ACROSS

Bid: $19.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$19.99
Plus shipping
3 hrs
53 mins
Clear Glass Painted Red Lantern Globe Bid Now »

Clear Glass Painted Red Lantern Globe

Bid: $4.99
Ships:
$9.99
$14.98
3 hrs
56 mins
N.Y.N.H & H.R.R Railroad Lantern Made in U.S.A Buy Now »

N.Y.N.H & H.R.R Railroad Lantern Made in U.S.A

Buy: $80.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$80.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
3 hrs
57 mins
Vintage Rayo/Socony Pony Cold Blast Globe! Bid Now »

Vintage Rayo/Socony Pony Cold Blast Globe!

Bid: $20.00
Ships:
$8.00
$28.00
3 hrs
57 mins
Old, vintage City of Milwaukee glass lantern, metal, Monarch, Dietz, kerosene Buy Now »

Old, vintage City of Milwaukee glass lantern, metal, Monarch, Dietz, kerosene

Buy: $233.11 Ships:
$15.90
$249.01
Buy now
3 hrs
58 mins
Vintage NYCLINES Railroad Lantern   Red Globe   Bid Now »

Vintage NYCLINES Railroad Lantern Red Globe

Bid: $135.00
Ships:
$15.99
$150.99
3 hrs
59 mins
OLD DELTA POWERLITE RAILROAD LANTERN Bid Now »

OLD DELTA POWERLITE RAILROAD LANTERN

Bid: $9.95
Ships:
Based on Zip
$9.95
Plus shipping
4 hrs
5 mins
Antique Dietz No.100 Railroad Lantern Blue with Red Globe Marked City of L.A. Bid Now »

Antique Dietz No.100 Railroad Lantern Blue with Red Globe Marked City of L.A.

Bid: $19.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$19.99
Plus shipping
4 hrs
7 mins
vintage lantern Bid Now »

vintage lantern

Bid: $5.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$5.00
Plus shipping
4 hrs
7 mins
In the middle of the 19th century, several innovations took place in lighting technology. Dietz and Company patented a flat wick lantern burner designed to burn kerosene in 1859. Although the railroad industry continued to use lamps and lanterns burning signal oil for some time afterward, the arrival of kerosene presaged future use of the fuel in later railroad lanterns. In 1868, John Irwin received the patent for his "hot blast" type lantern, a design that diverted exhaust gas back down tubes on the sides of the lantern to direct a mix of fresh and hot air at the flame, making it burn brighter. That same year, Dietz & Smith began producing their first hot blast lanterns. In 1874, Irwin patented a similar "cold blast" type lantern, which was designed to force cold, fresh air at the flame, making it burn even brighter than the previous "hot blast" design. By that time, a number of companies were producing lanterns and signal lamps for the railroad industry, including the Buffalo Steam Gauge and Lantern Company and Adams and Westlake, commonly known as Adlake.

Because there were a large number of lantern manufacturers serving the diverse needs of the railroad companies, many different types of lanterns and lamps were produced over the years. An early innovation was to make the globe removable, allowing easier access to service the burner and wick, and allowing for easy replacement of broken globes. The fixed globe lanterns were replaced by tall globe lanterns with red, cobalt blue, green, amber, and clear globes. The different colors were used for signaling and to mark the end of a train, or a train that was stopped because it was being worked on. Different arm motions and color combinations could allow a switch operator or ground man to tell the engineer of a train to stop, slow down, proceed with caution, or could alert him that the train had parted. Track switches and train yards had signal lamps that were designed with lenses to direct different colors of light in different directions, analogous to modern day automobile traffic lights.

Some lanterns were designed for very specific roles in the railroad industry. Conductor's lanterns were generally larger and more ornate than the ones used by engineers and brakemen. The traveling public expected a dignified and well dressed conductor, and a dented and rusty old lantern would not fit the image as well as a shiny brass conductor's lantern throwing a bright light. Particularly fancy ones, called presentation lanterns, were handed out on special occasions and to particularly valued employees.

Railroad inspectors, sometimes called trackwalkers, had bright lanterns designed with a reflective case and lens, made to focus as much light as possible in a small area. They had to check the trains for cracked wheels or axles, damaged couplers, and ensure proper lubrication and maintenance activities were performed on locomotives and rolling stock. The bright light of the Dietz Acme hot blast lantern and the Dietz Ideal cold blast lantern served railroad inspectors for decades.

These signal oil lanterns gave way to kerosene lanterns, and lamp design changed again to accommodate the new fuel. Short globe railroad lanterns of the early 20th century continued in production and use until late in the 20th century, so many fine examples can be found. Though they were shorter, the brighter kerosene flame, sometimes focused using a fresnel lens, was still as useful as long globe lanterns, and for the rail industry represented a far cheaper and more reliable source of portable lighting than electric lights. The same basic designs are still sold and used today to provide lighting in areas with no electricity and in emergencies such as hurricanes.

Collectors looking for antique and vintage railroad lanterns with markings from railroad and traction companies can find new opportunities to buy these historic marker lanterns, semaphore lanterns and switch lamps here daily. For more collectible RR lanterns, visit Vintage Railroad Lanterns, where you can find lamps from Embury, Dressel, Handlan, C.T. Ham and S.G. & L. Co. appear for sale regularly, along with many other railroad lanterns from turn of the century metal shops.

For more information on the various types of lamps and lanterns used on trains and around railroad yards, visit the Railroad Lamps Web Page and the Railroad Lanterns Web Page at Railroadiana Online, where they also have a special section devoted to railroad Inspector's Lanterns. For definitions of the terms used in describing vintage lantern and lamp parts, visit the Lamp Guild. Collectors interested in other antique lanterns and lamps click here!

 Search eBay 
Search For In Category Min.
Price
Max.
Price
# Items
Per Page