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Hi Monty,

I just read your link and I must say it was very well done and has added a great piece of historic content to this post.

In my opinion all of the better posts on the forum are often a cooperative effort by several members, thanks again.

Regards

Brian

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As mentioned earlier there are some main similarities common to all police lanterns, compared with lanterns designed for civilian use. These commonalities are, the double D handles and the belt hook device located at the rear of the lantern. In the collection there are a few variations on the theme and I will show them in the next series of photos. These D handles could fold back against the side of the lantern allowing the lantern to be affixed to the duty belt. In addition to the belt hook there was often found a secondary smaller hook-like device the prevented the lantern from working its way up and then falling off the belt. A few different types are also shown below.

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In the last photo, above, you can see a couple of different secondary hooks which would prevent the lantern from falling off the belt as mention.

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The belt hook itself varied in width depending upon the manufacturer and perhaps over time, as an evolutionary development.

Below is show two examples the narrow one is 1/2 inch in width and the wider one is 1 1/2 inches.

The photo to the right shows a variety that has two hooks which I would think would give the lantern more stability on the belt and keep the lantern horizontal.

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One of the specimens in the collection also sports a wooden handle so that the lantern may be carried much like a railroad lantern. This makes me wonder if this may have been used by railway police or guards. That's pure sepeculation and I would welcome comments from other members as to this possibility.

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The Crescent Lamp

One of the most unique lanterns I’ve seen and certainly the most unique in my own collection is this one designed by Philip Bicknell, chief constable of Lincolnshire, 1856 – 1902. Lincolnshire, a predominantly agricultural area, is situated in the east of England.

This particular lantern is marked on the bottom as having being issued to PC 188 Walker. To me this would suggest that the local force was small as a larger police service would probably have had someone who cleaned the lanterns daily and then simply reissued a random lantern, possibly numbered and recorded at that time, to the officers as requested. That of course is pure speculation and I stand to be corrected on this point (or any point for that matter).

The first thing that strikes anyone who sees this lantern, compared with the “usual” specimens, is that the top is flat and not conical. This was done, according to Richard Cowley in his book, “A History of the British Police”, to allow a cup of tea or coffee to be rested on the top in order to keep the contents warm. I always appreciate it when manufacturers consult those who use their products in order to gain insight into designing better and, of course, more appealing items for the consumer.

One of the views below shows the double hook that allows the lantern to be attached to the duty belt. Most of the other lanterns I have seen only have a single hook.

We’ll also take a closer look at the innovative design features of this lantern as this article progresses.

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As indicated by the title of this section the lamp we are looking at now was patented as The Crescent Lamp by Dolan & Co. of Vauxhall, London, England. Vauxhall is located in central London and upon checking this out I found that it would appear that one could not find the very centre of the city any more accurately than being in Vauxhall.

I believe one of the best know items to come out of Vauxhall was the automobile by the same name.

Below I have shown the two brass plates that are riveted to the lantern.

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Brian

Very educational! Just getting caught up here but have two things to offer, one figuratievly and one literally.

My colleagues at the pioneer museum agree that neither tallow not hand dipped candles had woven wicks. Probably a relic of a 'living history' site or event. Dipping candles is a very common activity for school kids visiting muesums like ours [1837 pioneer farm] and historic reenactments set in the early 19th century.

I have a burner like those shown in Post #43! Picked it up years ago because it looked neat but was never quite sure what it was or what I could do with it - meant to use it to heat edge finishing tools in my cobbler's kit but don't actually do thast work any more. I'll have to see whether or not I can find it - I have a hrrible feeling I may have binned it last clean up - but if I do I'll send in a photo of it.

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This thread is an interesting read. I was not aware such a diversity of lanterns.....

Larry

Hi Larry,

Thanks for the comment.

When Mervyn got me hooked on these artifacts I figured I'd purchase one or two, tops, and that would be it.

Everytime I would add one I'd see yet "one more"... and you know that story. :whistle:

Regads

Brian

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Brian

Very educational! Just getting caught up here but have two things to offer, one figuratievly and one literally.

My colleagues at the pioneer museum agree that neither tallow not hand dipped candles had woven wicks. Probably a relic of a 'living history' site or event. Dipping candles is a very common activity for school kids visiting muesums like ours [1837 pioneer farm] and historic reenactments set in the early 19th century.

I have a burner like those shown in Post #43! Picked it up years ago because it looked neat but was never quite sure what it was or what I could do with it - meant to use it to heat edge finishing tools in my cobbler's kit but don't actually do thast work any more. I'll have to see whether or not I can find it - I have a hrrible feeling I may have binned it last clean up - but if I do I'll send in a photo of it.

Hi Peter,

Thanks for that conformation. I've seen the hand dipping of candles at pioneer villages but, of course, just assumed they would be using modern wick.

I do hope you can locate that burner and would like very much to see a photo of it posted here.

Regards

Brian

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Brian

As I say, I have a horrible fear that I tossed out the burner, which sat on top of my bookshelf forever. If I do find it, would you like it?

As to the candles, I suspect that some modern hand dips use woven wicks because that's what Michael's craft store sells in the candle making aisle, but they don't date before the 1850s or so, I'm quite sure and by then all candles would have been moulded.

I let you know if I find the burner.

Peter

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Hi Peter,

I would indeed like the burner, if you locate it, thank you very much.

Some of my lanterns are missing their burners and I suspect they were taken out to be used in a work or hobby shop.

Regards

Brian

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The Crescent Lamp

Continuing on with our look at the Crescent Lamp we’ll look at the lamp’s burner chamber.

In the first photo we can see the convex reflector which is affixed to the door of the lantern. In the usual style of lantern found this reflector is found at the back of the lamp chamber and relies on the curve of the lamp body to give it a convex shape and therefore it is able to better concentrate the light. One of the disadvantages of the older style reflectors is that they are hard to polish, especially if your hand is larger. The Crescent Lamp reflector is convex on all planes where in the usual design of lanterns the reflector is convex only on the one axis while the other is flat, or straight.

I probably should have mentioned the door itself as this is probably the very first thing anyone would notice about the Crescent Lamp. The door not only allows access to the reflector but also to the oil burner itself. I hope by this point you can appreciate what an innovation this lamp was over its competition. It probably also begs the question, “How can a grown man get so excited about an old police oil lamp?” Of course if you stayed with this post this far you can answer that question yourself.

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The Crescent Lamp

The burner itself is quite unique compared with other styles of police lanterns. This particular burner fits into the lantern by sliding it into two rails in the bottom of the lantern that correspond with their opposite number on the bottom of the burner. This would prevent the burner from rattling around while in use and certainly if the lantern were to be accidently tipped on its side the burner would stay in place The whole burner may be removed for filling and or cleaning by the use of a wire ring mounted on the top of the oil reservoir tank.

The back of the oil tank has a very unique feature; there is a plate with groves running horizontally and vertically to provide a surface to strike a match to light the burner. I have never been a smoker but I have been out in the bush hunting on wet, rainy days when finding a dry rough surface to strike a match for the lunch camp fire can be an issue. If you are not too soaked through there is always a zipper somewhere but one must remember that before zippers people only have had buttons as clothing fasteners.

It is easy to see that the lantern was designed by someone who had seen service and not an engineer lacking practical experience. No slight to engineers is intended.

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I do own one large rectangular oil lantern, about 12" high by 4" x 6", with a door and a reflector. I got it second hand and the ijiot who owned it before me had thrown out the burner unit and stuck candles in the hole in the top of the reservoir. I did that for a bit too but eventually got a new burner unit, which works after a fashion, though it smokes a good bit.

Anyway, I mention that because it has two strips of brass running the length of the bottom - think inverted 'L' in cross section - and there is a flange around the base of the reservoir, which tapers inwards as it rises, so the reservoir is gripped firmly and cannot topple over. very ingenious and sensible!

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The Crescent Lamp





Before we leave the Crescent Lamp, (ok, who
just said “finally!’?), I’d like to touch on the ventilation for this
lamp. At the bottom, in the back, are a
number of holes to allow air to enter the combustion chamber. Without proper ventilation we would not have
much of a lamp. At the top is the
chimney which completes the ventilation system as in all lamps and
lanterns. However another innovative feature
of the Crescent Lamp is that this is detachable to allow it to be cleaned and
if necessary, replaced due to damage.
There is a pin located at the rear of the chimney, as may be seen in the
photo below, which, when withdrawn, allows the whole chimney assembly to be
removed for whatever purpose is necessary.


This pretty well covers the Crescent Lamp. The
next, and final, fuel combustion example is a unique specimen that I do not
believe to be very common, especially in the condition and completeness as it
will be presented.









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Sorry it has taken so long to respond but I wanted to research your question before confessing failure. So far I have found nothing.

This post has been "pinned" and will remain at the top of the section until I have conpleted it so I hope one of the members with this knowledge will see your question and be able to assist you.

Regards

Brian

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Carbide Bicycle Lamp


There was a need for officers to make use of the bicycle in their patrols, especially in the rural areas. I believe Mervyn may have touched on this in his earlier fictional work about the life of a constable in the early years of
policing in England. Naturally the officer would be required to use a bicycle after sunset and therefore required a light for the same reasons we would need one today.


The lamp I am featuring in this installment is actually a French Luxor Carbide Bicycle Lamp, from around 1910 to perhaps1930.


This lamp is one of my favorite specimens in the collection as it involved more than simply pouring in a fuel and lighting the wick. These lamps required a chemical reaction in order to produce the fuel.
What fascinates me is that the chemical reaction was all within the lamp and not in a manufacturing plant then shipped to a vendor for sale to the lamp user.

It required the user to actually mix together two materials to generate the fuel.

My old chemistry teacher would be so proud, and not a little surprised, if he could know that I am writing anything about a chemical reaction.

When I look back I cannot but feel a bit sympathetic for this fellow who persistently remarked that he knew, as his student, I was capable of turning out much better work,

and yet I, just as persistently, disproved his hypnotises over and over.

The carbide lamp required the user to place calcium carbonate in the bottom portion of the lamp and water in a reservoir located above the calcium carbonate container.
The water could be regulated to drip at a controlled rate onto the calcium carbonate below and thereby produce acetylene gas. This gas was then ignited and a light producing flame was the result.

By filling the bottom container with calcium carbonate from ½ to ¾ full one could have light for one to two hours. Once the calcium carbonate was used up a white sludge was left which was dumped out and, if needed, the whole process was started over.


I am going to digress from the topic for a moment with a personal opinion. When you think about the process set out above, the user actually created a flammable gas in a miniature manufacturing plant, being the lamp itself. It would seem to me that people back a century or more ago were closer to the actual process required to produce a required result than young people of today.
For those with even a spark of intellect there must have been a stimulation of the thought process lacking in today’s “flip a switch and you are rewarded” world. Through studies and surveys it has been found that an alarming percentage of today’s population have no idea where or how electricity is produced or where the waste goes after they flush the toilet. We seem to be witnessing a generation of lab rats or at least Pavlov’s dogs.

I could not resist sharing that thought with you, it’s just an observation.


I’ve read one author’s opinion, somewhere, that these lights served more to indicate the location of the bike rider rather than actually producing sufficient light. I found that a strange comment as I have seen videos where these lamps were show lit and a good deal of light was produced. In fact this type of lamp system was and still is used by people who are engaged in caving. I have read that today the lead person in a cave expedition often uses a calcium carbide lamp as the light has a wider spread than an electrical light while producing a strong beam. I understand the soot produced by the acetylene lamp can be used to mark the cave wall with a dark patch in which may be written, with a finger, directional marks etc. The soot is an eco-friendly medium and will not disturb the cave environment.


I hope you find this lamp as interesting and
as fascinating as I do.


Regards

Brian





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