1854-1858 John Otto & Co.

John Otto & Co. was a coppersmith and plumbing company in Buffalo, NY. They made brass fittings, headlights, lanterns. Essentially, they were a catch-all company, doing and selling anything they could. The company was formed in the early 1850s. In 1854, Otto got the patent rights to make Lewis B. Carpenter’s 1854 lantern patent. This patent was for the locking mechanism between the bottom of the lantern and the top. Carpenter in his patent termed this lantern a “Conductors Lantern”.

L.B. Carpenter also worked with Hugh Sangster, owner of the Hugh Sangster & Co., another lantern maker in Buffalo. The Sangster name is a big one in early lanterns, the family operated a large lantern company. He likely did not like Otto making lanterns in the same town as him, especially not with patents by someone he worked with.

By 1858, John Otto had either closed or sold the company and was now a real estate agent. Which means, this lantern can be dated between 1854 and 1858. John Otto sold railway lanterns, it’s a good bet to assume this is one of those lanterns.

John Otto & Co. advertisement from the 1854 Buffalo City Directory

This lantern is in pretty remarkable shape for being from the 1850s, and solid brass. It was almost entirely green with oxidization when I got it. All I did was give it a light scrub to remove some of the oxidization, but keep the wonderful dark patina. This was the first fixed globe lantern I found, I’ve certainly fallen in love with it since.

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