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:
3,095 itemsPriceShippingTotalTime Left
Dietz oil lantern cap Bid Now »
Free Shipping

Dietz oil lantern cap

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
Free
$10.00
32 mins
 RARE "CON ED CO."DIETZ LITTLE WIZARD KEROSENE LANTERN RED GLASS GLOBE Buy Now »

RARE "CON ED CO."DIETZ LITTLE WIZARD KEROSENE LANTERN RED GLASS GLOBE

Buy: $30.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$30.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
55 mins
DIETZ (LOT OF 2 ) LANTERNS Bid Now » Buy Now »

DIETZ (LOT OF 2 ) LANTERNS

Bid: $29.99
Buy: $38.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$29.99
Plus shipping
Buy now
1 hr
12 mins
VTG COLLECTIBLE-CAST IRON-VEGETABLE-N-FRUIT CART Bid Now » Buy Now »

VTG COLLECTIBLE-CAST IRON-VEGETABLE-N-FRUIT CART

Bid: $18.50
Buy: $26.50
Ships:
Based on Zip
$18.50
Plus shipping
Buy now
1 hr
40 mins
Antique Dietz Little Wizard Old Metal New York Railroad Lantern USA Buy Now »

Antique Dietz Little Wizard Old Metal New York Railroad Lantern USA

Buy: $69.99 Ships:
Free
$69.99
Buy now
1 hr
47 mins
Vintage  Railroad Lantern Red Globe Buy Now »

Vintage Railroad Lantern Red Globe

Buy: $12.95 Ships:
Based on Zip
$12.95
Plus shipping
Buy now
2 hrs
30 mins
Clear Lexan Railroad lenses General Signal Made In USA  8 3/8 in. dia. Bid Now »
Free Shipping

Clear Lexan Railroad lenses General Signal Made In USA 8 3/8 in. dia.

Bid: $25.00
Ships:
Free
$25.00
2 hrs
32 mins
3 DIETZ LANTERN GLOBES/PARTS                                   r2 Buy Now »

3 DIETZ LANTERN GLOBES/PARTS r2

Buy: $37.46 Ships:
$13.95
$51.41
Buy now
2 hrs
40 mins
Brass Railroad Lantern Bid Now » Buy Now »

Brass Railroad Lantern

Bid: $75.00
Buy: $99.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$75.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
2 hrs
54 mins
Antique Embury Mfg Co No. 2, Air Pilot Green Railroad Lantern, Star Bottom Bid Now »

Antique Embury Mfg Co No. 2, Air Pilot Green Railroad Lantern, Star Bottom

Bid: $6.99
Ships:
$16.99
$23.98
3 hrs
VINTAGE PAULL'S RAILROAD LANTERN  -  RUSTY WITH CLEAR GLASS GLOBE Bid Now »

VINTAGE PAULL'S RAILROAD LANTERN - RUSTY WITH CLEAR GLASS GLOBE

Bid: $25.00
Ships:
$20.00
$45.00
3 hrs
5 mins
1924 EMBURY MFG. CO. CONDUCTORS LANTERN  ORIGINAL BATTERY WAVY GLASS GLOBE Buy Now »
Free Shipping

1924 EMBURY MFG. CO. CONDUCTORS LANTERN ORIGINAL BATTERY WAVY GLASS GLOBE

Buy: $125.00 Ships:
Free
$125.00
Buy now
3 hrs
17 mins
antique barn/railroad lantern.C T Ham  mfg co. #0 SSS. correct globe. 13 1/2''T Buy Now »

antique barn/railroad lantern.C T Ham mfg co. #0 SSS. correct globe. 13 1/2''T

Buy: $125.00 Ships:
$8.00
$133.00
Buy now
3 hrs
33 mins
CONGER RAILROAD SWITCHMAN'S LANTERN. - NO RESERVE Bid Now »

CONGER RAILROAD SWITCHMAN'S LANTERN. - NO RESERVE

Bid: $9.99
Ships:
$3.85
$13.84
4 hrs
28 mins
rail road lantren Bid Now » Buy Now »

rail road lantren

Bid: $25.00
Buy: $60.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$25.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
4 hrs
34 mins
Vintage DIETZ D-LITE NY USA Red Lens Buy Now »

Vintage DIETZ D-LITE NY USA Red Lens

Buy: $30.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$30.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
4 hrs
35 mins
VINTAGE DIETZ NO. 50 RED LANTERN RAILROAD STYLE USED  GOOD CONDITION Hong Kong Bid Now »

VINTAGE DIETZ NO. 50 RED LANTERN RAILROAD STYLE USED GOOD CONDITION Hong Kong

Bid: $12.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$12.99
Plus shipping
4 hrs
41 mins
DIETZ LANTERN Bid Now » Buy Now »

DIETZ LANTERN

Bid: $14.99
Buy: $30.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$14.99
Plus shipping
Buy now
5 hrs
2 mins
Vintage Train Railroad Signal Lantern Light Lamp Candle Amber Marked St. W. F. Bid Now »

Vintage Train Railroad Signal Lantern Light Lamp Candle Amber Marked St. W. F.

Bid: $39.99
Ships:
$14.00
$53.99
5 hrs
6 mins
ANTIQUE B&M R.R. RAILROAD LOCK Bid Now » Buy Now »

ANTIQUE B&M R.R. RAILROAD LOCK

Bid: $150.00
Buy: $200.50
Ships:
Based on Zip
$150.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
5 hrs
24 mins
NEW HAVEN  R.R. DIETZ # 888 BATTERY POWERED SIGNAL LANTERN Bid Now »

NEW HAVEN R.R. DIETZ # 888 BATTERY POWERED SIGNAL LANTERN

Bid: $25.00
Ships:
$12.05
$37.05
5 hrs
26 mins
Vintage Kero Adlake Railroad Lamp Lantern Patd 1908 Buy Now »

Vintage Kero Adlake Railroad Lamp Lantern Patd 1908

Buy: $179.95 Ships:
$14.95
$194.90
Buy now
5 hrs
30 mins
2 Antique / Vintage~Spring Loaded Brass Candle Wall Sconces for Railroad Coaches Bid Now »

2 Antique / Vintage ~ Spring Loaded Brass Candle Wall Sconces for Railroad Coaches

Bid: $226.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$226.00
Plus shipping
5 hrs
32 mins
ADLAKE / ADAMS & WESTLAKE NON SWEATING BALANCED DRAFT LAMP  PAT. 00-07 Buy Now »

ADLAKE / ADAMS & WESTLAKE NON SWEATING BALANCED DRAFT LAMP PAT. 00-07

Buy: $150.00 Ships:
$11.65
$161.65
Buy now
5 hrs
38 mins
CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILROAD KERO LANTERN, RUBY RED GLOBE, HIRAM PIPER,CNR Buy Now »
Free Shipping

CANADIAN NATIONAL RAILROAD KERO LANTERN, RUBY RED GLOBE, HIRAM PIPER,CNR

Buy: $99.99 Ships:
Free
$99.99
Buy now
5 hrs
45 mins
Antique HANDLAN OF SAINT LOUIS RED GLOBE Bid Now »

Antique HANDLAN OF SAINT LOUIS RED GLOBE

Bid: $24.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$24.99
Plus shipping
5 hrs
59 mins
RR Style Lampe Lantern Bid Now » Buy Now »

RR Style Lampe Lantern

Bid: $5.00
Buy: $30.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$5.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
6 hrs
2 mins
Adlake Model 168 Fount Buy Now »

Adlake Model 168 Fount

Buy: $45.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$45.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
6 hrs
10 mins
Armspear Bridge Lamp Fount Buy Now »

Armspear Bridge Lamp Fount

Buy: $55.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$55.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
6 hrs
10 mins
Santa Fe Top Cap Braces Buy Now »

Santa Fe Top Cap Braces

Buy: $13.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$13.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
6 hrs
10 mins
Dressel Switch Lamp Bails Buy Now »

Dressel Switch Lamp Bails

Buy: $18.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$18.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
6 hrs
10 mins
Adlake Square Top Cap Latch Kit Buy Now »

Adlake Square Top Cap Latch Kit

Buy: $13.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$13.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
6 hrs
10 mins
Dressel Switch Lamp Bail Buy Now »

Dressel Switch Lamp Bail

Buy: $9.50 Ships:
Based on Zip
$9.50
Plus shipping
Buy now
6 hrs
10 mins
Handlan Switch Lamp Fount Cup Buy Now »

Handlan Switch Lamp Fount Cup

Buy: $45.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$45.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
6 hrs
10 mins
Adlake Round Top Cap Braces 1907 Style Buy Now »

Adlake Round Top Cap Braces 1907 Style

Buy: $13.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$13.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
6 hrs
10 mins
Adlake Round Top Cap Braces 1880 Style Buy Now »

Adlake Round Top Cap Braces 1880 Style

Buy: $13.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$13.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
6 hrs
10 mins
Lot #936 Vintage Dietz Red Night Watch Lantern Bid Now »
Free Shipping

Lot #936 Vintage Dietz Red Night Watch Lantern

Bid: $45.00
Ships:
Free
$45.00
6 hrs
14 mins
Lot #534 Vintage Delta Redbird Electric Lantern Bid Now »
Free Shipping

Lot #534 Vintage Delta Redbird Electric Lantern

Bid: $40.00
Ships:
Free
$40.00
6 hrs
14 mins
 Rare N.Y. N.H.&H. R.R. AdlakeKero # 100 VintageTall Globe Railroad Lantern Nice Buy Now »

Rare N.Y. N.H.&H. R.R. AdlakeKero # 100 VintageTall Globe Railroad Lantern Nice

Buy: $225.00 Ships:
$20.00
$245.00
Buy now
6 hrs
21 mins
Vintage Adlake Signal Lantern Mixed Lot of 2 Bid Now »

Vintage Adlake Signal Lantern Mixed Lot of 2

Bid: $4.50
Ships:
$13.25
$17.75
6 hrs
27 mins
Antique Mini Red Lantern 10" x 4" Buy Now »

Antique Mini Red Lantern 10" x 4"

Buy: $9.29 Ships:
Based on Zip
$9.29
Plus shipping
Buy now
6 hrs
27 mins
Vintage Union Railroad Lantern Dietz Vesta Red Globe  ALL ORIGINAL! - Nice Bid Now »

Vintage Union Railroad Lantern Dietz Vesta Red Globe ALL ORIGINAL! - Nice

Bid: $109.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$109.00
Plus shipping
6 hrs
31 mins
EMBURY No.25 LUCK-E-LITE UTL LANTERN with original Red GLASS GLOBE Bid Now »

EMBURY No.25 LUCK-E-LITE UTL LANTERN with original Red GLASS GLOBE

Bid: $42.25
Ships:
Based on Zip
$42.25
Plus shipping
6 hrs
34 mins
KOPP BLUE GLASS ROUNDEL 4 3/4" DIAMETER Bid Now »

KOPP BLUE GLASS ROUNDEL 4 3/4" DIAMETER

Bid: $7.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$7.99
Plus shipping
6 hrs
43 mins
OLD KOPP YELLOW GLASS RR RAILROAD LANTERN LENSE Bid Now »

OLD KOPP YELLOW GLASS RR RAILROAD LANTERN LENSE

Bid: $9.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$9.99
Plus shipping
6 hrs
49 mins
ANTIQUE  M.C.R.R. RAILROAD  LOCK Bid Now »

ANTIQUE M.C.R.R. RAILROAD LOCK

Bid: $20.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$20.00
Plus shipping
6 hrs
55 mins
Vintage Dietz Eureka Stagecoach Lantern Bid Now »

Vintage Dietz Eureka Stagecoach Lantern

Bid: $49.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$49.99
Plus shipping
7 hrs
3 mins
ANTIQUE DRESSEL Kerosene RAILROAD Marker LANTERN MFG Arlington NJ Bid Now »

ANTIQUE DRESSEL Kerosene RAILROAD Marker LANTERN MFG Arlington NJ

Bid: $250.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$250.00
Plus shipping
7 hrs
19 mins
Antique Railway Red Glass  Globe Shade Kerosene /  Lantern Lamp Buy Now »
Free Shipping

Antique Railway Red Glass Globe Shade Kerosene / Lantern Lamp

Buy: $29.99 Ships:
Free
$29.99
Buy now
7 hrs
29 mins
RAILROAD LANTERN PRR GLASS NYCS HANDLAN ST LOUIS Bid Now »

RAILROAD LANTERN PRR GLASS NYCS HANDLAN ST LOUIS

Bid: $65.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$65.00
Plus shipping
7 hrs
31 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