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:
3,379 itemsPriceShippingTotalTime Left
Vintage Train Railroad Lantern with Glass Globe in VERY Good Condition Buy Now »

Vintage Train Railroad Lantern with Glass Globe in VERY Good Condition

Buy: $69.99 Ships:
$12.00
$81.99
Buy now
15 mins
Vintage Train Railroad Lantern Signed CNR In Original Dark Finish Lantern Buy Now »

Vintage Train Railroad Lantern Signed CNR In Original Dark Finish Lantern

Buy: $74.99 Ships:
$12.00
$86.99
Buy now
15 mins
Antique Railroad Brass Candle Lantern Original Glass Hurricane Patent Sept 1907 Buy Now »

Antique Railroad Brass Candle Lantern Original Glass Hurricane Patent Sept 1907

Buy: $90.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$90.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
30 mins
RARE EXAMPLE NYCS "ELECTRIFIED" RAILROAD LANTERN (FREE SHPPING) Buy Now »
Free Shipping

RARE EXAMPLE NYCS "ELECTRIFIED" RAILROAD LANTERN (FREE SHPPING)

Buy: $100.00 Ships:
Free
$100.00
Buy now
1 hr
23 mins
Signal Light Lens Lot Of 34 Motorcycle Truck Marker Bid Now » Buy Now »

Signal Light Lens Lot Of 34 Motorcycle Truck Marker

Bid: $9.99
Buy: $14.99
Ships:
$5.99
$15.98
Buy now
1 hr
46 mins
Lantern globe - Dietz ( glass ) Bid Now » Buy Now »

Lantern globe - Dietz ( glass )

Bid: $12.00
Buy: $16.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$12.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
1 hr
54 mins
Vintage City of New York Red Globe Kerosene Lantern By Dietz Buy Now »

Vintage City of New York Red Globe Kerosene Lantern By Dietz

Buy: $27.95 Ships:
$9.95
$37.90
Buy now
2 hrs
42 mins
PRR Class Light Bid Now »

PRR Class Light

Bid: $175.00
Ships:
$25.00
$200.00
2 hrs
46 mins
Rare1923SOUTHERN RAILWAY LANTERN Antique Railroad Adlake Kero Emboss Etched N W1 Buy Now »

Rare1923SOUTHERN RAILWAY LANTERN Antique Railroad Adlake Kero Emboss Etched N W1

Buy: $433.00 Ships:
$12.99
$445.99
Buy now
2 hrs
58 mins
Lantern Dietz No.2 D-Lite 7x14 Ing Made In N.Y. U.S.A Good Condition Buy Now »

Lantern Dietz No.2 D-Lite 7x14 Ing Made In N.Y. U.S.A Good Condition

Buy: $49.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$49.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
3 hrs
4 mins
Old Railroad Lantern Globe RUBY RED GLOBE RED FLARE SIGNAL Fostoria Bid Now »

Old Railroad Lantern Globe RUBY RED GLOBE RED FLARE SIGNAL Fostoria

Bid: $14.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$14.99
Plus shipping
3 hrs
6 mins
Antique Railroad/Firemen's Solid Bronze Lantern Merryweather & Sons London Buy Now »

Antique Railroad/Firemen's Solid Bronze Lantern Merryweather & Sons London

Buy: $435.00 Ships:
$20.00
$455.00
Buy now
3 hrs
12 mins
Vintage Railroad Lantern Bid Now »

Vintage Railroad Lantern

Bid: $22.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$22.00
Plus shipping
3 hrs
25 mins
Very Cool Hard to Find Railroad Lantern-- Complete & Not Damaged Buy Now »

Very Cool Hard to Find Railroad Lantern-- Complete & Not Damaged

Buy: $200.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$200.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
3 hrs
30 mins
MC Gas Co. Red Oil Lamp Made By Dietz Buy Now »

MC Gas Co. Red Oil Lamp Made By Dietz

Buy: $20.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$20.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
3 hrs
31 mins
ANTIQUE DIETZ OCTO DRIVING LAMP, LANTERN PAT. 1906 With Mounting Bracket Buy Now »

ANTIQUE DIETZ OCTO DRIVING LAMP, LANTERN PAT. 1906 With Mounting Bracket

Buy: $89.50 Ships:
Based on Zip
$89.50
Plus shipping
Buy now
4 hrs
2 mins
ANTIQUE 5 1/2" TALL CLEAR LANTERN GLOBE Bid Now »

ANTIQUE 5 1/2" TALL CLEAR LANTERN GLOBE

Bid: $2.95
Ships:
Based on Zip
$2.95
Plus shipping
4 hrs
3 mins
B.S. St. Ry (BAY STATE STREET RY) WB 5 1/4 clear unmarked globe Bid Now »

B.S. St. Ry (BAY STATE STREET RY) WB 5 1/4 clear unmarked globe

Bid: $300.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$300.00
Plus shipping
4 hrs
6 mins
Vintage 4 Way Railroad Lantern Lamp Signal GOOD FOR PARTS OR DECOR Buy Now »

Vintage 4 Way Railroad Lantern Lamp Signal GOOD FOR PARTS OR DECOR

Buy: $49.99 Ships:
$14.99
$64.98
Buy now
4 hrs
6 mins
Vintage Lantern Dietz Vesta New York City NYCS Buy Now »

Vintage Lantern Dietz Vesta New York City NYCS

Buy: $42.35 Ships:
$12.95
$55.30
Buy now
4 hrs
12 mins
ANTIQUE 6 1/2" TALL ,SUN PURPLE TINTED  LANTERN GLOBE Bid Now »

ANTIQUE 6 1/2" TALL ,SUN PURPLE TINTED LANTERN GLOBE

Bid: $3.95
Ships:
Based on Zip
$3.95
Plus shipping
4 hrs
12 mins
DIETZ NO.2 DASH LANTERN BULLSEYE LENS VERY RARE ONLY PRODUCED 4YR Bid Now »
Free Shipping

DIETZ NO.2 DASH LANTERN BULLSEYE LENS VERY RARE ONLY PRODUCED 4YR

Bid: $64.00
Ships:
Free
$64.00
4 hrs
26 mins
Antique Lantern Scones Light Lamp Pair Matching Winged Wheel #400 Folk Art Buy Now »

Antique Lantern Scones Light Lamp Pair Matching Winged Wheel #400 Folk Art

Buy: $59.99 Ships:
$12.00
$71.99
Buy now
4 hrs
33 mins
Vtg HANDLAN kerosene lantern, Red Globe...Nice Buy Now »

Vtg HANDLAN kerosene lantern, Red Globe...Nice

Buy: $65.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$65.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
4 hrs
38 mins
Star lantern - 100% original.  Red globe. Bid Now » Buy Now »

Star lantern - 100% original. Red globe.

Bid: $15.00
Buy: $30.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$15.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
4 hrs
59 mins
Vintage RED DORAYFLARE Kerosene Smudge Pot/Flare; DORAY LAMP CO. CHICAGO Bid Now »

Vintage RED DORAYFLARE Kerosene Smudge Pot/Flare; DORAY LAMP CO. CHICAGO

Bid: $12.50
Ships:
$5.00
$17.50
5 hrs
3 mins
RARE TEAL BLUE-GREEN DIETZ VESTA LANTERN GLOBE 4 1/4" TALL Bid Now »

RARE TEAL BLUE-GREEN DIETZ VESTA LANTERN GLOBE 4 1/4" TALL

Bid: $36.01
Ships:
Based on Zip
$36.01
Plus shipping
5 hrs
7 mins
Vintage Handlan Red Kerosene Railroad Lantern with Red Glass  Globe Buy Now »

Vintage Handlan Red Kerosene Railroad Lantern with Red Glass Globe

Buy: $34.50 Ships:
$13.00
$47.50
Buy now
5 hrs
9 mins
Vintage Winged Wheel No 400 Oil Lantern with Glass Shade 1950's Japan Bid Now »

Vintage Winged Wheel No 400 Oil Lantern with Glass Shade 1950's Japan

Bid: $24.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$24.99
Plus shipping
5 hrs
12 mins
Vintage Kero Adlake Railroad Lamp Lantern Patd 1908 Buy Now »

Vintage Kero Adlake Railroad Lamp Lantern Patd 1908

Buy: $89.95 Ships:
$14.95
$104.90
Buy now
5 hrs
30 mins
Early Antique Police Tin Railroad Bulls Eye Single Lantern  Brass Bracket  Buy Now »

Early Antique Police Tin Railroad Bulls Eye Single Lantern Brass Bracket

Buy: $29.99 Ships:
$5.99
$35.98
Buy now
5 hrs
32 mins
Antique R H  Thompson Estate City Of Seattle Water Dept Lantern Vintage WOW Buy Now »

Antique R H Thompson Estate City Of Seattle Water Dept Lantern Vintage WOW

Buy: $259.00 Ships:
$16.40
$275.40
Buy now
5 hrs
56 mins
DIETZ FITZALL H7 RAILROAD LANTERN GLOBE PAT 12-4-23 Bid Now »

DIETZ FITZALL H7 RAILROAD LANTERN GLOBE PAT 12-4-23

Bid: $13.00
Ships:
$10.50
$23.50
6 hrs
Antique,Adams-Westlake Brass Caboose Door Lock, with key, Great Pitina,Works. Bid Now »

Antique,Adams-Westlake Brass Caboose Door Lock, with key, Great Pitina,Works.

Bid: $125.00
Ships:
$10.95
$135.95
6 hrs
8 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
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
Vintage Electric Railroad Lantern Justrite No. 40 Wooden Handle 1940s 1950s Buy Now »

Vintage Electric Railroad Lantern Justrite No. 40 Wooden Handle 1940s 1950s

Buy: $28.99 Ships:
Based on Zip
$28.99
Plus shipping
Buy now
6 hrs
18 mins
Adlake Kero CNR Canadian National Railroad Oil Lantern Buy Now »

Adlake Kero CNR Canadian National Railroad Oil Lantern

Buy: $69.95 Ships:
$9.95
$79.90
Buy now
6 hrs
58 mins
Vintage Old Embury MFG Co Warsaw NY No 210 railroad Bid Now »

Vintage Old Embury MFG Co Warsaw NY No 210 railroad

Bid: $35.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$35.00
Plus shipping
7 hrs
4 mins
ADLAKE RAILROAD LANTERN Bid Now »

ADLAKE RAILROAD LANTERN

Bid: $75.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$75.00
Plus shipping
7 hrs
6 mins
Adlake Non Sweating Lamp-Circa early 1900's Buy Now »

Adlake Non Sweating Lamp-Circa early 1900's

Buy: $144.24 Ships:
Based on Zip
$144.24
Plus shipping
Buy now
7 hrs
6 mins
Antique Dietz Railroad Lantern Clear & Red Glass Buy Now »

Antique Dietz Railroad Lantern Clear & Red Glass

Buy: $90.00 Ships:
$11.95
$101.95
Buy now
7 hrs
8 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