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Sunday, August 9, 2009

There is light at the end of the Sale

About a year ago I stopped at an estate sale in Newtown, CT. Another nice old home full of memories that had been packed up and emptied out along with the owner, no longer able to care for it. What was left were all the trappings of a life well lived. 2 barns, one small, one medium with more nooks and crannies than an english muffin. It was a dig! 

The house was a custom built modified saltbox from the 1940's and had aged gracefully. I'm nosy, to a small degree, and I wanted to know who these folks were and what they did with their lives. I enjoy establishing the significance in other peoples lives. Maybe it's my way of showing gratitude for permission to paw through their excess stuff. It is also useful in knowing the origins in determining what I am looking at (and for). The only thing I really am sure of is that I am looking for something I've never seen before.

Digging around in the basement the name plate on a piece of aged sheet metal caught my attention:
 Stonebridge folding lantern, That's unique. I'm into portability, but the patent dates make this more intriguing. Here is the whole thing.
 Stonebridge folding lantern, Does it unfold?

 Stonebridge folding lantern,  Stonebridge folding lantern,  Stonebridge folding lantern,  Stonebridge folding lantern, I was most impressed with the "glass" protecting the candle inside. It has the look and feel of thin plastic. Pretty strange for plastic to be so close to a heat source. I had already been wondering how old it really was. Patent dates are sometimes meaningless as a reference for determining the age of manufacture, it gets you in the ballpark, but the date of patent and the date of manufacture can be decades apart.

 The "glass" isn't plastic, it's mica, a naturally occurring mineral that can withstand temperatures up to 1800 degrees. Portable lanterns and other camping gear like this came out of a new era where a model T or motorcycle could get you out camping in 2 hours. This was in comparison to the 2-day hike, or a 1-day horse ride it normally took. This was the new fad; go out in modern transportation and "rough" it in the woods. The Stonebridge Folding Lantern was the first of its kind and in article after article they swear by its quality. Take a short look at this review from the "Fur News" of December 1920. (click the image to visit the Google scan sight)
 Stonebridge folding lantern,

That still doesn't confirm the actual date of this lantern. Maybe a reader can help me out?

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Greg--Although the design is old, you could still get that exact lantern well into the late 1950s and early 1960s, because I had one as a Scout.

    It tended to be great for a candle, and you can see how there was an adjustable grate for air to enter, so you could cater to the amount of wick you had showing.

    However, it tended to accrete wax on the floor and soot inside the roof and eventually you wound up being unwilling to clean it. Also, as nifty as it was to have the mica windows, they did tend to cut down on the light that was radiated.

    Today, I would bet no camp would allow you to bring this kind of flame into a tent.


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