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Hello Brian:

About 30 years ago, i worked in mining research. We had problems with the electric miner lamps. We visited the hardware store the small town. We buy calcium carbide lamps. Sometimes, obsolete items are most effective. That's when, i started collecting miner's lamps.
Five years later. My father asked me about the dark lanterns. There was talk of these lamps, in many novels. I could not imagine how they were. Soon after, I bought my first Hiatt. In these 20 years, I have never known a website dedicated to police lanterns. There are many sites de militaria, memorabilia, handcuffs etc... but nothing as complete as this topic.



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Hi Juan,

Thank you for the complement, it is greatly appreciated by me and I am sure by all the other members, now including you, who have helped to build this post.

I had the same problem in findng a forum that dealt with British Police lanterns so I figured I'd post my collection and research here with the hope others would join in, as this indeed did. 




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He Brian:

Of the 10 police lights I have in my collection, only three have indications that have been used by the police.



This lamp has stamped whit MP (Metropolitan Police) and 9259 484.



The VERITAS trade mark is not usually make  police lanterns. This lamp was used for Whithall police in the nineteenth century.




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Hi Draklantern,

Very nice examples, thanks for posting them.  From what I understand from Mervyn, and I stand to be corrected, not all lanterns used by the different police forces were marked.  Therefore quite often we have to be content to accept a certain specimen on the faith that it was indeed at least the "type" used by the police.  It is always a bonus when the specimen you have just added to your collection has the markings of the issuing police department .

I hope Mervyn will weigh in on this point to satisfy that I am correct or at least to add to my knowledge with a correction.:rolleyes:




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Whilst many Police lanterns were not marked for the Force - never-the-less , as Brian has pointed out, there are criteria which mark them out.Firstly, their has to be a means of suspension  -  secondly, a means to hold and shine the lantern  and thirdly , a means to cover the beam with a metal shield when doing observations.     These Bulls Eye lanterns were also the torches of the day and many more were in civilian hands then in Police.   I particularly liked your example for the London Borough of Hackney.  Unusual to see a Met. Police one so well marked.    Mervyn

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Interesting, I'm not sure if mine is maked on the back or not.  At the moment it is in a display case behind a mountain of odds and ends that are temporarily stored in the office so I can't check.  Yours looks like the lamp designed by Phillip Bicknell, former Chief Constable of Lincolnshire at the turn of the 20th century; one of my personal favourite specimens in my collection.

I just remembered that my Cresent Lamp is shown on page 3 of this post and upon checking the photos I see that mine in, in fact, not marked like yours.  I wonder if this is the accountability number that would be recorded in connection with the PC it was issued to that particular night's duty?





Edited by Brian Wolfe
Bad memory
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I read the post, it is very interesting. It is also one of my favorite lamps. I've had three. One is the gave my brother. I have another from Canada (the seller said that belonged to rail way). I must rescue. It is the most faithful to the Bicknell Patent:

"My invention relates to certain improvements in dark-lanterns for the use of policemen, watchmen, and others. It is an improvement on that general form of lantern which is constructed with a rounded front side and a fiat or slightly-concave rear side adapted to lie against the wearer, and in which the front portion is hinged to a back plate attached to the waist-belt, so that the front portion may fold outwardly with the lamp to give access to the latter.



By the way, from an article by unknown author:

An oil lamp for police duty, known as "The Crescent Lamp" was patented by Captain

Bicknell, and was reported to be in use all over England and in the colonies. In 1894, he

stated that 10,000 lamps were in use, and it was said that they had nearly superseded all

others. In July, 1890, the Chief Constable of Edinburgh wrote to Captain Bicknell with a view

to using the Crescent Lamp in conjunction with a liquid heater which he had invented.

Captain Bicknell would not agree to this and said. "I wish you every success, but do not think

that the men in this country will be allowed to boil coffee on their beats."

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Hi Brian:

I rescued the lamp during the weekend. Years ago, they sent me the lantern from Canada. It was very dirty. The oil stuck it all. The door would not open. The dark-slide did not work... Yesterday, I plunged the lamp in a pot with water. I cook the lantern for a while. I even cleaned more.

Crescent Lamp from Canada

This lamp is closer to the patent. It is a very old specimen.




The door is curved: “and a fiat or slightly-concave rear side adapted to lie against the wearer, and in which the front portion is hinged to a back plate attached to the waist-belt, so that the front portion may fold outwardly with the lamp to give access to the latter”

This is the reason for the double hook.




The chimney does not have the front reinforcement. It has a single label, welded (no rivets).





The tank has no vent brass and  surface to strike a match to light it does not exist. Although you may have ever existed. There is the ghost of a rectangle. A faint cut mark. Perhaps it was a scratching paper.


 The scraper of matches, the back of the chimney, it would not be the original. 

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Thanks Brian:

Match strike strip (sandpaper), it is a speculation. The tank was improved due to the experiences, I Think. 

Also, the curve door, It was difficult to manufacture. Too ergonomics for those times.

The lantern, It is a primitive model to be refined later.




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