General Antiques and Collectibles
Size and dimensions of this item
16 inches high 9 inches round
no picture available
eBay Auction Link
Price Paid (If known)
Re: B&O Caboose Lantern
Any chance of seeing a photo or two?
Price seems a bit high, but it really depends on a lot of conditions that you don't mention.
1. Is the burner present and is it the correct one and is it complete? Most of these had a small chimney on them, for example, that is often missing. Does it have the correct wick type and does it move freely? Some companies used flat wicks others round ones. The smaller the wick the more it was preferred as they burned slower and therefore made the fluid last longer. (remember most railways were very penny pinching!) so a smaller wicked burner is more likely to be original. Does it fit well in the guides at the bottom of the lantern? If not it probably is a replacement. I have even seen lanterns with the holding bracket/guides knocked off to hide the fact that it's the wrong burner!
2. What is the condition of the outside of the lantern? There is usually a small inspection hole in the part that opens up to the inside, and it should have glass in it. The lenses should also be of Glass (there are plastic ones too) and have the same pattern. Check for similar lanterns from that company for the patterns they used, to see if they have been replaced.
3. A caboose lantern has a 'foot' out the bottom - side that slides into a bracket on the caboose to stop it from banging against the wall while the train is in motion. Is that present? If not it may not be a caboose lantern!
4. Is the metal in good shape?
5. One thing to also check, is get the history of the railroad. I am not familiar with the B&O but that is because it's a US Railroad (Baltimore and Ohio) and I am mostly familiar with the ones in Western Canada. So talk to folks that know that railway better (i.e. the B&O Railway museum: http://www.borail.org/).
Why? Railroad Memorabilia is highly forged and/or misrepresented. Some material even comes from railroads that don't even exist. I often see old road works lanterns and buggy lanterns being sold as 'railway lanterns'. See if the style is a known one used by this rail company. Remember also that smaller companies often bought the old cast offs etc. of larger ones, so they may not even have lanterns (for example) that have their marks on them. Fakes of that nature exist too. It's wise to check!
I typically buy mine mostly complete (the chimney I mention is usually missing- but reproductions can be purchased still) for between $150 to $300, depending on the condition and the age/railway. If your example is particularly complete, un modified, and rare then maybe the $400 is correct.
A bit of racy trivia for you: Do you know where the term 'red light district' comes from? It's a result of the trains stopping off for water (old style coal and wood fired boiler engines!) The staff carry red lens lanterns for emergencies on the tracks, and would take them to town with them. They would hang them on the doors of 'ill repute' they were visiting, so that if they were needed back in a hurry, they could be found easily. All those red lights on the doors lead to the term being coined!
Hope that answers the questions you may have had!