E.T. Wright & Co. was formed by Edwin Thomas Wright, and his brother Harry G. Wright in 1883. They moved as boys with their family from Pennsylvania to Hamilton Ontario in the 1860s. Edwin’s first job was a coach painter, painting carriages and horse drawn buggies. Harry became a Commercial Traveler, acting as a salesman for many local Hamilton businesses. Edwin moved from coach painting to working as a Jappaner, painting ‘Pontypool’ japan finish on tinware. In 1883 the brothers came together to form their own Tinware and Japanning factory, they named the new company E.T. Wright & Co. Ltd. Their business kept growing and in 1887 they bought out another Hamilton tinware business, who made lanterns. As a result, this takeover meant that E.T. Wright was now in the lantern manufacturing business. E.T. Wright lanterns are some of my favourite lanterns out there.
Their Start in Lanterns
The first lanterns produced by the firm was the Hinge lanterns, originally they made these lanterns off the 1883 Thomas Phillips patent. Thomas Phillips was an inventor from Orillia, Ontario. He also owned a stove foundry in that city. Thomas had good success licensing out his patent, he even found some companies in the UK to manufacture his lantern patent. Wright would give lanterns made using his design the ‘A’ moniker.
Additionally, they were the first lantern manufacturer to produce a cold blast lantern in Canada. My research shows some time in the mid 1890s. With their jump start on cold blasts, and their success elsewhere, by 1900 they were the biggest lantern manufacturer in Canada. Along with lanterns they made extensive lines of bird cages, tinware, garden equipment, and anything else that could be made with sheet metal. Around 1910 Wright started using the trade name “Wrico” for their products, including some lines of lanterns. Although that name was mostly used for kitchenware and general household hardware. In 1921, they bought out the naming rights and tooling of the Banner and Trulite lines of lanterns made by Ontario Lantern & Lamp Co. This purchase meant they successfully took over their second biggest competitor since 1890.
Along with tubular lanterns, ETW also made railway lanterns, starting in the 1890s. They soon became the biggest railway lantern makers in Canada. Although, they did not make switch or caboose lanterns, only handheld lanterns. Along with Railroad lanterns, they also made traction engine headlights, railroad headlights and station lamps. You can see my E.T Wright Railway lanterns here.
Interestingly, ETW also appears to have maintained a close relationship with C.T. Ham Mfg. Co. (Ham) in Rochester, NY. Unfortunately a common belief among collectors is that Ham made lanterns for Wright. However that is not the case, I have found no evidence of that. There are also clear manufacturing differences between Ham and Wright. If I’m able to get a Ham cold blast to compare, I’ll do an article about the differences between Wright and Ham.
E.T. Wright’s Demise
Sadly, the demise for the company came in 1933, when ETW was bought out by the General Steel Wares Company. GSW was formed in 1927 with the merger of:
The McClary Manufacturing Company of London, Ontario
Sheet Metal Products (SMP) Co. of Canada of Toronto
The Thos. Davidson Manufacturing Company of Montreal
The A. Aubry et fils of Montreal
The Happy Thought Foundry Co. of Brantford
A few notable things about the original merger. The Thos. Davidson Company was actually merged into McClary Mfg. Co. only months before the GSW merger. So it is technically not part of the GSW merger. The newly formed GSW took over many of SMP’s designs and logos, most notably the shield logo used by SMP.
Below are all my E.T. Wright & Co. lanterns. Click on the lantern to see a larger detailed photos and description and stories on each lantern.
E.T. Wright Globes
There are so many different globes and styles from E.T. Wright. I’m still finding more myself. So I’ve included a section here just about E.T. Wright globes. Unfortunately, my ability to take clear photos of Globes isn’t the greatest at the moment, so please bear with me until I can find a good solution.