1898-99 James Hill Prototype

This lantern is a unique one. In 1898 James Harvey Hill, who was at the time superintendent of the W.W. Chown & Co, filed for and got his first patent for lanterns in Canada. He filed that for that patent January 18th, 1898. It took over a year until the patent was granted, May 29, 1899. This patent was for a cold blast lantern. One that was hinged at the bottom of the tubes, to open the lantern the user would hinge the top of the lantern including the globe, which would give access to the burner and wick. Much like how a E.T. Wright A. Hinge lantern worked. Jame’s lantern design was quite different than lanterns elsewhere. This one had square tubes, with corners bent twice at 45 degrees, “coffin corners” as they’re referred too by collectors now.

Only a short time before that first patent was issued, on April 15th, 1899, James Hill filed for another patent. This was a revised and improved version of his first patent. It too was granted and issued on March 31st, 1900. This patent retained many of the designs of the first patent, same square tube coffin corners, same chimney, fount, crown, etc. What was new was the lift and the globe plate. The lift was based closely on J.H. Stones hinge design. Keeping in mind Stone lanterns were made at the factory James was the superintendent of. Two pins connected to the globe plate slid into tubes going through the fount. Using the bail to press against the globe guards and lifting up from the bottom of the globe plate, it would lift the globe up away from the burner. The other change was to the globe plate. It was now ‘fluted’ as James described it. This meant cold air would be brought up and pushed against the globe, keeping the glass cooler.

So where does this lantern fit into all of that? Well it’s not hinged like the first patent, but also doesn’t have the lift or fluted plate of the second. It has instead a typical Stone style hinged base like the Stones short Tubular, and the globe plate has rough punched holes on one side of the globe plate. The globe plate is most definitely a factory part as it exactly matches other Chown globe plates used until the fluted globe plate came along. It is also stamped on the chimney “PAT. APD FOR”. The reason for the lacking and not fully developed parts, is that this lantern is a prototype. More specifically a shop made prototype likely done by James Hill himself as he was developing his second patent. The fact the lantern says patent applied for, but not lists a patent date, means this lantern dates to between January 18, 1898, when James applied for the first patent, and when it was received May 29, 1899.

First ad for the Defiance Cold Blast put out by W.W. Chown & Co. Circa 1900

There are no records of the W.W. Chown & Co. company selling this design of lanterns. All records and advertising point to the first year of production of cold blasts being 1900 for the company. Coinciding with the creation of the Defiance Lantern & Stamping Company, formed by James Hill and his Brother-in-Law William Chamberlain Embury. That lantern they released has round tubes made off the Kemp ‘stove pipe’ patent and a different Chimney. DL&S also never made this style of lantern, the first lantern produced by that company had rounded crimped ends tubes.

Those two patents James Hill were used by him and Embury to secure the funding needed for the pair to start DL&S. From of the success of that company came the Embury Lantern Co., what would become the second largest lantern company in America. This lantern is a prototype made while developing a patent that would spark the beginnings of the second largest lantern company in America.

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