1883 – 1887 Williams Hinge

In 1883, J.M. Williams & Co. made an agreement with George Fifield, of the USA, for production of his hinge lantern patent. This design was for a lantern that hinged at the lower tubes, making the tubes and globe hinge away from the fount of the lantern. This gave easy access to the burner and wick of the lantern. Fifield had success with his patent in the USA as well, the largest lantern manufacturer, R.E. Dietz, also picked up the design. Williams named the lantern the Williams Hinge lantern.

George Fifield’s 1882 US patent. The Canadian version identical to this patent was granted in 1883. Click on the photo to see Fifields full patent

Since the lantern hinged away from the fount, there was no need for a fuel spout. 1883 is quite late to not have one, but even still, it was a popular lantern in Canada. It uses interesting construction methods, the corners are the ‘two-piece’ corners found on early American lanterns. That means the corners of the tubes are made of two formed pieces of metal soldered together with the horizontal and vertical tubes placed in and soldered to the corners. The upper corners also have the bail connector formed into them.

This lantern is also the precursor to the E.T. Wright & Co. lanterns. When E.T. Wright purchased the tinware side of J.M. Williams, they also took over the lanterns. That said, they couldn’t use the Fifield patent used by Williams. They instead found the similar 1883 Thomas Phillips of Orillia, Ontario, hinge lantern patent and began making lanterns under that patent. You can see an example of an early Wright lantern made with the Phillips patent here. Comparing the Williams hinge to the Wright Hinges, it’s obvious this is the origin of Wright’s lanterns.

My Williams Hinge Lantern

Due to the severe pitting of the metal on this lantern, I opted to paint it black. I don’t normally paint lanterns as I prefer the bare metal look, but when a lantern is really pitted, paint can be a nice way of making it ‘present’ a little nicer. A word of caution though, paint over active rust can quickly make a lanterns condition worse. I always do my best to get all the rust off first, then use a rust converter product that neutralizes rust before I paint them, this way ensures the lantern won’t deteriorate underneath the paint.  This is one of the few lanterns I remembered to take a ‘before’ picture with, so I’ll include that below. While not in the best condition, it’s still an incredible lantern from an otherwise largely unheard of manufacturer, I’m just thrilled to own it. The Williams Hinge is by far one of the coolest lanterns out there.

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