American Made Lanterns

The Origins of The Tubular Lantern

The tubular lantern was invented by Aylett R. Crihfield. He received the first patent for a tubular lantern on April 2, 1867. Not long after, on May 28th, 1867, John H. Irwin, who was already a lantern inventor, also received a patent for a tubular lantern. For about 5 years, Crihfield’s patent was listed first on tubular lanterns produced, followed by Irwin, however Irwin having the backing of the companies began suing Crihfield, eventually Crihfield lost the royalties he was getting from the production of his lanterns. Royalties for those lanterns were worth tens of thousands of dollars at the time. His patent was removed from lanterns being made and as a result, Irwin is often credited with making the first tubular lanterns. Irwin would go on to patent many more lantern designs and improvements.



This is Crihfield’s 1867 Patent. You can click on the photo to read the accompanying claims with this patent



This is Irwin’s 1867 patent. You can click on the photo to see the accompanying claims.


I’ve added both of their patents above, so you can made the decision yourself as to who invented the tubular principal. In the 1876 court case “IRWIN et al. v. DANE et. al.” Irwin’s case over Crihfield was that his patent “was the first to conceive the idea, and reduce it to a practice, of making an operative lamp, which should dispense with the chimney, and be supplied with fresh air by means of the bell and tube, as shown in his device, and for an operative combination of the globe and perforated bottom to the globe, by which a clear burning lantern was produced”. The court settled that Irwin was the first to invent a lantern with “a device for securing a blast of fresh air to the burner of a lamp by means of an inverted funnel or bell and one or more tubes, by which the air heated by the flame of the lamp is caused to rise into the tube, and be thence conducted into a close reservoir below the flame”. Essentially, what it came down to between Crihfield and Irwin was the bell shaped piece over the burner, rather than Crihfield’s design.

While I do not believe Irwin was the true inventor of the tubular principal, I do concede he invented the ‘blast’ idea, where the exhausting air directly blasted through the tubes with fresh air, making lanterns burn brighter.  There is no doubt Irwin steered lanterns in the direction we know them today. His inventions and contributions to lanterns were instrumental in developing lanterns all around the world. Irwin passed away July 29, 1890.

My American Lanterns

While it’s obvious I’m a Canadian who loves Canadian lanterns, some lanterns from the USA have made their way into my collection for one reason or another. I love really early lanterns and the American ones are just fantastic. There is such a variety of American manufacturers, and lantern designs I will only ever be able to scratch the surface of them with my small collection. If you have questions about American lanterns, as always I will do my best to answer them if you contact me.   My collection of non-Canadian lanterns is quite small, so I’m keeping them all to this page.