Love's Lantern...It is more starlike than a star!

By: Carly Hill, Staff Writer • Feb 28, 2013 • 0 Comments

Love’s Lantern

Because the road was steep and long
And through a dark and lonely land,
God set upon my lips a song
And put a lantern in my hand. 

Through miles on weary miles of night
That stretch relentless in my way
My lantern burns serene and white,
An unexhausted cup of day. 

O golden lights and lights like wine,
How dim your boasted splendors are.
Behold this little lamp of mine;
It is more starlike than a star!

Joyce Kilmer

Nowadays, antique lanterns are a decorative conversation piece.  Before they were antiques, they were utilitarian.  They were like light bulbs.  Early lanterns were very plain and usually square shaped and their sole purpose was to shield wind or breeze from blowing out a candle.  They were made from sheet iron or tinplate – very cheap metals.

Originally referred to as lanthornes (sounds like “lanterns” with a lisp, doesn’t it?), lanterns were the street lights of the day a few centuries ago.  People would hang them on their front doors, much like we have porch lights now.  Most towns didn’t have lighting on the streets.  In America, Boston was one of the first places to get street lighting and that didn’t happen until the 18th century.  These early street lights weren’t exactly lanterns, though.  They were iron baskets hanging from poles.

Soon after Boston began lighting the streets, cities started to pass legislation that every 6th home needed to hang a lantern to keep sidewalks and roads well lit.  These lanterns were usually lit with whale oil. 

Benjamin Franklin lit Philadelphia.  He also discovered that two tubes of wick next to each other produced more light than two separate lanterns.

To learn more about the first lantern pictured, from Legacy Antiques, click here.  The second set of lanterns pictured is available from Pat Monroe Antiques here.

Feel free to linger and look at our lovely Latique lanterns…