The R.E. Dietz Company, New York U.S.A. is probably one of the most famous lantern manufacturers known to the general public because they produced prolifically not just in railroad lanterns, but also in lanterns used by the general public for everything from camping to reading when the power goes out. Since Dietz produced lanterns well into the mid to late 1900s there are many Dietz lanterns out there, but the only ones of real interest to railroadiana collectors will have railroad initials stamped on them.
There are three main models of tall-globe lanterns produced by Dietz, each with its own variations, there are also three other types which are less common:
The Dietz No. 6 Model:
The Dietz No. 6 was one of the most prolific lanterns of its time and was ordered so heavily by the New York Central Railroad that it was known as “New York Central Style” lantern, however this model was used by many different railroads besides the NYC. The Dietz No. 6 is unique and known for the fact that while it is a tall-globe lantern, it used a different globe from the standard 5-3/8″ globe. The Dietz No. 6 underwent many design changes during its over 30 year run of production, during this time the top was flattened out over time, and some of the newer models had insert founts instead of the snap-in “Sangster” fount. Values for Dietz No. 6 lanterns varies widely based on condition, railroad, globe, and rarity of the particular lantern features.
The Dietz No. 39 or 39 Standard Model:
The Dietz No. 39 Model was produced starting in the 1880s and was succeeded around 1900 by the Dietz 39 Standard. These lanterns served as the standard brakeman’s lantern in their product line and were produced with a bell-bottom base. The Dietz No. 39 and 39 Standard saw many variations over the course of the 60 years they were produced. The largest differences are between lanterns produced before and after the 1897 fire that destroyed the Dietz factory. After the fire, Dietz bought the Steam Gauge & Lantern Company and used many of its dies and machining processes since theirs had been destoryed in the fire. The Dietz No. 39 and 39 Standard vary widely in price based on their condition, globe, rarity and railroad markings so we can’t give you a good estimate without seeing your specific lantern, Contact Us and send a picture.
The Dietz X.L.C.R. Model:
Marketed to switchmen, the Dietz X.L.C.R. Model (short for “Excelsior” meaning excellent) was shorter than the No. 39 or other brakeman’s lanterns. The Dietz X.L.C.R. model was produced from around 1910 to the 1920s, with many variations all carrying the same model name. Earlier versions will have a slightly rounded smoke dome while later versions have a flat top. While the X.L.C.R. model is shorter than the No. 39 or 39 Standard, it still uses the same 5-3/8″ globe, the decrease in height is accomplished with a smaller base, burner, and fount assembly. Dietz X.L.C.R. lanterns also will be seen with insulated, wrapped, or wooden handles instead of the wire bails found on most lanterns, this would protect a switchman working around electrified railways.
Other Dietz Tall-Globe Models and Variations:
The Dietz Steel-Clad:
The Dietz Steel-Clad model was built as an extra tough and durable lantern with steel plate vertical members that were stronger than the usual round wire verticals. Like most of the other Dietz models this lantern line can be found with many variations such as the rounder earlier smoke dome vs the flatter later dome, insert vs twist off founts, and other improvements made over the period it was produced from around 1900 up to the 1950s.
The Dietz Vulcan:
The Dietz Vulcan model is a designation used for lanterns produced with a wire base as opposed to the bell bottom base found on most other Dietz lanterns. While the Steel-Clad model also had a wire base, the Vulcan is distinct because it has wire verticals instead of the plate verticals found on the Steel-Clad. The Vulcan is sometimes misleading because the company sold other models with a “Vulcan” globe, but also sold this particular Vulcan Model lantern as a separate item. The Vulcan globe refers to a standard sized globe of 5-3/8″ instead of the shorter globe used on the “Vesta” model.
The Dietz Empire:
It is uncommon to see a Dietz Empire with railroad markings, but they do exist. The Dietz Empire was made with the same options as the Steel-Clad or Vulcan, but it is suspected by experts that this model was used and marketed primarily to smaller lines like trolleys and interurban lines instead of larger steam locomotive lines.