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Dietz Hand Lanterns

April 1st, 2001

The Dietz company of New York City was perhaps the New Haven's most important supplier of kerosene hand lanterns. Hand lanterns were used for signaling purposes and as sources of illumination. The New Haven used Dietz lanterns from the late 19th/early 20th Century all the way through to the Penn Central merger effective January 1st 1969.

Globes (the glass part of the lantern) were obtained in five colors; clear, red, yellow, green, and blue. Clear was used for hand signals and for general illumination. Red was used to stop trains and for other purposes. Yellow was used for a variety of purposes as specified in the rule book. Green was used to indicate that it was clear for trains to proceed. Blue was used to mark equipment which should not be moved.

All Dietz hand lanterns were stamped with the New Haven's initials on their lids to identify them as railroad property. Early glass globes were also marked with the railroad's initials. However, in later years the New Haven bought unmarked globes. The earliest lantern globes had the railroad's initials cast in raised letters as part of the molding process. In later years, the initials were etched into the glass. Clear globes are the ones most commonly found today. Blue globes are rare.

All lanterns from the collection of Marc Frattasio.

Dietz No. 39 VulcanThe Dietz Vulcan was the first Dietz hand lantern model used on the New Haven Railroad. The earliest of these, which date from around the turn of the century, were fitted with sheet metal "bell bottom" bases. Later Vulcans, such as this example, were fitted with a wire base. All of the New Haven's Dietz Vulcans had "N.Y.N.H.&.H.R.R." stamped on their lids in large letters. This lantern also has the same marking cast into its red globe.

The Dietz Vulcan was replaced by the Vesta model during the early 1920s. The earliest of these, such as the example shown here, had a high top and a smooth kerosene tank. All Vesta lanterns had the initials "N.Y.N.H.&.H." stamped on their lids. This lantern's globe is also marked with "N.Y.N.H.&.H.R.R." in etched letters. Yellow lanterns such as this one were used to indicate a temporary speed restriction or to mark standing occupied cars. This lantern was made in 1923.Early Dietz Vesta

Later Dietz VestaLater Dietz Vestas, such as this example, had a shorter top, locking handle holder, and a ribbed kerosene tank. This lantern was made in 1952. It has an unusual variation globe which is marked with cast "N.H.R.R." letters instead of the commonly found "N.Y.N.H.&.H.".

Some Dietz Vestas were supplied with a heavy weighted base, such as this example. These so-called "ring-base" lanterns were used on locomotives, cabooses, and passenger cars. The heavy base provided extra stability for the lantern while equipment was in motion. This lantern has a red globe which is marked "N.Y.N.H.&.H." in etched letters. Such lanterns were often placed on the platform of a caboose or passenger car to mark the end of a train when marker lamps were not available.Ring-Base Lanterns


February 2001: Right of Way Signs

January 2001: Signal Lamps

December 2000: TDI Commuter Schedules

November 2000: To Florida on the New Haven Railroad!

October 2000: Local Schedules

September 2000: Train Service Cancellation Posters

August 2000: The New Haven Railroad Rail Charge Card

July 2000: Beverage Service!

June 2000: The Boat Race Trains

May 2000: Timetable Change Posters

April 2000: New Haven Railroad Station Signs

March 2000: The Key to New England

February 2000: Route 128 Station

January 2000: New Haven Railroad Cigarette Lighters

December 1999: The Dan'l Webster

November 1999: Postwar Travel Posters

October 1999: Modern Dining Car China

September 1999: New Haven Railroad Dining Car Service Pins

August 1999: New Haven Railroad Lapel Pins

July 1999: The 1939 New York World's Fair -- 60th Anniversary

June 1999: On-Train Ashtrays

April 1999: Matchbooks

March 1999: Pilgrim Tours

February 1999: Special Trains of the 1950s and 1960s

January 1999: Ticket Envelopes

December 1998: Holiday Advertising Material

November 1998: New York City Travel Advertising Material

October 1998: Boston Travel Advertising Material

September 1998: The Hurricane of 1938 -- 60th Anniversary

July 1998: The New Haven Goes Back to Cape Cod

June 1998: The 1964/1965 New York World's Fair

May 1998: Official Gifts of the McGinnis Era

April 1998: System Timetables

March 1998: Pre-War Advertising Brochures

February 1998: New Haven Railroad Freight Service Advertising from the 1950s and 1960s

January 1998: The Snow Trains

December 1997: Hotel Montclair Advertisement ca. 1939

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