Armspear lanterns were known for their high-quality construction and durability as they were frequently made to higher standards than their competitors. Armspear was originally a line of lanters produced by the Railroad Signal Lamp and Lantern in the late 1800s. Eventually, in 1902 the company was reorganized and renamed as Armspear, but it’s first model, known as the “Steel Guard” to collectors, was very similar to lanterns produced previously and with many of the same patents. Therefore, it is possible to find Armspear lanterns with patents predating the company itself. The other tall globe model of Armspear lanterns is known at the “Giant”, and a short globe model known at the “1925” model.
The most common type of Armspear lantern is known as the “Steel Guard” and used heavy flat-plate verticals that give this lantern its trademark appearance, these verticals engaged the two horizontal guards with notches in opposite sides to form a strong and durable frame that protected the globe from most types of damage. Collectors typically describe these lanterns by the latest patent date found on the lantern, but often there are different dates on the font and top so it can still be confusing to date these lanterns with so many different parts being swapped within the same “model”.
The second model of Armspear lanterns is known as the “Giant” model. While still built very ruggedly and with larger gauge wire than other competitors, the Armspear “Giant” used round wire verticals with a single horizontal guard and was produced from the 1910-1920s. The Armspear “Giant” model tends to be rarer than the “Steel Guard” because it was made for a relatively shorter period of time, and while these lanterns were loved for their durability, they were also more expensive and purchased in smaller quantities by the railroads.
Values of Armspear lanterns varies greatly based on condition, model, rarity, railroad stamp and many other factors. Value for Armspear lanterns ranges from as low as $35 up to several hundred.