Digest>Archives> October 2004

U.S. Lighthouse Service Defiance Lantern

By Jim Claflin

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Some time ago, we talked about a number of utility lanterns that had come on the market recently. Writer and collector Bob Kaminski dropped us a note about another style of utility lantern that we hadn't seen before.

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As you would expect, the Lighthouse Service, like other services, required lanterns for use in walking and for general utility lighting. These kerosene lanterns were smaller units with a carrying handle or bail on top. The globes were generally clear as they were used for lighting, rather than signaling or navigation aid. Most that I have seen over the years were manufactured by the R. E. Dietz Company, generally their “No. 2 Blizzard” style.

The lantern that Bob found is similar to the Dietz that I have spoken of in the past, with two exceptions. First, rather than a brass “USLHS” cartouche attached to the side or tank, Bob's is embossed in the manufacture-on-the-oil-tank with “U.S.L.H.S. NO. 2.” This means that this lantern was actually produced for the Lighthouse Service rather than being purchased “off the shelf” by them.

Second, rather than being a Dietz, this lantern is marked “Defiance Lantern & Stamping Co Rochester NY.” Embossed on the filler cap is “COLD BLAST.” The lantern is typical with a steel frame and slotted brass bonnet.

William Chamberlain Embury began Defiance Lantern & Stamping Co in 1900. From the Defiance web site, “...Embury was born in Napanee, Ontario, Canada on December 17, 1873. As a young man, Embury worked for a Canadian tin and lantern company named Kemp Manufacturing in Toronto. Embury moved to Rochester, New York and started the Defiance Lantern & Stamping Co. in 1900. Embury's partners in Toronto financed Defiance Lantern and Stamping and when they tried to force Embury to hire unskilled relatives in 1908, he left to start Embury Manufacturing in the teens and 20s. Defiance made generic hot blast and cold blast barn lanterns plus a conventional No. 39 railroad lantern. Defiance was too small to survive the Stock Market crash of October 1929 and Embury was able to purchase their dies and equipment in 1930...” This would seem to indicate that this lantern could date from 1900 to 1929. For more information on Defiance lanterns and other manufactures, check the Lantern History web site at http://

home.earthlink.net/~pearsond/start.htm.

This was a great find Bob, another unnoticed gem found hanging on the ceiling at your local antique shop.

For a wonderful “inside” look at the items and equipment issued to keepers, a complete photocopy of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Lighthouse Service, Keeper's Annual Property Return, Requisition, and Receipt Form No. 30; 24 pages; 8” x 10” is available for $8 plus $1 postage.

Like our column? Have suggestions for future subjects? Please send in your suggestions and questions, or a photograph of an object that you need help dating or identifying. We will include the answer to a selected inquiry as a regular feature each month in our column.

Jim Claflin is a recognized authority on antiques of the U.S. Lighthouse Service, Life-Saving Service, Revenue Cutter Service and early Coast Guard. In addition to authoring and publishing a number of books on the subject, Jim is the owner of Kenrick A. Claflin & Son Nautical Antiques. In business since 1956, he has specialized in antiques of this specialty since the early 1990's. He may be contacted by writing to him at 1227 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602, or by calling (508) 792-6627. You may also contact him by email: jclaflin@lighthouseantiques.net or visit his web site www.lighthouseantiques.net

This story appeared in the October 2004 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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