Look For It,
Wait For It,
It Will Pay You.
Is how the advertisement started. Back when I first started researching I came across an advertisement for a lantern in an 1890 hardware magazine, it lacked an illustration so I didn’t give it too much attention, saved a copy and moved onto the next advertisement. Later in the magazine I was going through, the same advertisement came up again. So this time I read it through, it was for the Eclectic Security Tubular Lantern, quite a name and quite a description, “The Eclectic Security Tubular Lantern. Combining as it does all the latest improvements without any of the discovered defects of lanterns hitherto on the market. The following are a few of its most important points, viz:- Burner connected with oil cup by a screw. Inch Wick. Hinged Cap to Burner. Seamless Bottom Oil cup, which contains an imperial pint. Convenient and cool method for removing Globe to clean and light”. That description really caught my attention, but it also didn’t give me much to go off (admittedly for the first while I misread the advertisement as Electric Security Tubular Lantern).
The advertisement was a neat one. All the text was inside a box, and around the outside of the box on each side was the name of the lantern. At the bottom was the company name and info ” Manufactured solely by The Alliance Manufacturing Co’y of Toronto, (Limited) Office and Works 14 Bay Street. “
I made note of it and the name of the company and kept on reading. It seemed so obscure, I did some searching online and found there was no information about this company or the lantern I could find. So I moved on, eventually that information went to the back of my mind.
Finding the Lantern
About a year later, in May of 2018, I was at an antique show with my girlfriend. We were looking at one table and this little candle lantern caught my attention. Inside it was a lantern globe, but a really funky one. It had a curved shape so pronounced I had never seen a lantern globe anywhere close to it. I picked it up and saw it said “Eclectic”, I remember saying to her “I’ve heard that somewhere before” but it still hadn’t registered. I almost walked away from it, but then it hit me, I knew where I had seen it, that advertisement, that advertisement with no illustration and the crazy description. The globe I was holding was for that lantern in the advertisement. On the back of the globe it said “A.M. Co. Toronto”. That was it, the proof I needed, A.M. Co. stood for Alliance Manufacturing Co. That little candle lantern didn’t last long at that booth after that.
When I got home, I started asking everyone I could about it. Other collectors, historical societies, everyone. Unfortunately, no one knew about the Eclectic. So to the shelf it went. Waiting until I could find the lantern for it.
Amazingly, just two months later in June, I was looking at online auctions and an auction had just been posted, the auction was located about 2 hours away and had over 200 lanterns in it, it was for a long time lantern collector. Looking through the lots, It only took me until lot 9 to see one I had never seen before. The description of the lantern in the auction catalogue didn’t mention a maker or name for the lantern either. Lot 9 was worth Investigating.
That Eclectic globe was sitting on my shelf staring at me. I wanted to find that Eclectic lantern so bad, I kept saying to myself that’s gotta be it. I sent the link to a friend and asked if he had seen one. He sent back that he had one in his collection already, and knew nothing about it. He sent along a bunch of detail photos of his lantern. The more I looked at the photos, the more excited I got. His nearly identical lantern to the one in the auction had a one inch wick, check that off the list. The burner connected with the lantern by threads, not compression fit like most other lanterns, check. The burner didn’t have a separate burner cone, but was attached much like a oil lamp burner, check. His lantern had a fuel tank more like a bowl than a soldered on bottom most other lanterns have, check that off the list from the advertisement. Everything about his lantern matched the description of the advertisement. That was it! That was the Eclectic Security Tubular Lantern!
When the auction day arrived, I was up and out of bed early to get there. The auction had some incredible lanterns, but lot 9 was my focus. I was getting that lantern. When lot 9 came up, it ended up in a bidding war with another person who has since become a friend as well, he didn’t know what it was but knew he wanted it. The auction turned out to be pretty expensive, I spent a lot that day, but it was worth it. I had the Eclectic Security Tubular Lantern. What an incredibly unique lantern. It was in fantastic shape too! When I got home I wiped it down to get some of the dirt and dust off, then I grabbed the globe off the shelf and carefully slid it in between the guards and into place, a perfect it.
The lantern is and will continue to be my proudest accomplishment in collecting and researching. From finding an ad for a lantern nobody knew, to being able to name which lantern it was and finding the original globe and frame. It is easily my favourite piece in my collection, and because of that I wrote this story about how it came to be.