Coleman US lanterns 1931 – 1936

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The Coleman Company made a demonstration lamp (left) to support their Instant-Lite patent; note the presence of the sight glass to see fuel and/or air moving up to the generator. This lamp is in the Coleman Museum in Wichita. Jim Nichols modified an early 220B by adding a heat deflector and sight glass (2nd from left). In the instant lite position, air bubbles and fuel pass through the sight glass (2nd from right) while in the run position, only fuel passes through the sight glass (right).



In the early 1930s Coleman made this F146 lantern for Sunshine Products Co., Chicago, Illinois, a wholly owned subsidiary of Coleman. Note the so-called carburetor valve enters the fount not the base rest. This lantern instant lights using the carburetor valve to feed gasoline from the fount. The lantern is in Mark Baldwin’s collection; the collar badge (lower image) is on a lantern in Neil McRae’s collection.



This F146 lantern is the same as the one above except that it is badged for Coleman, rather than Instant-Lite as above. We have no record that Coleman marketed this model sold with their company name on the lantern This lantern is in Brian Passananti’s collection.

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This undated 242 lantern has a bail that is shaped as in the catalog images of the earliest version of this model (upper left image). The ventilator rod (upper center image) projects outward rather than inward as on later 242 lanterns. One side of the base rest (middle image) has the Coleman logo that was usually on the side of the fount on other models. The lighting instructions on the other side of the base rest (bottom image) appear to have been hand stamped. This lantern, in Mel Taylor’s collection, may have been made in late 1931 before regular production began.


This Coleman Model 242 is dated February 1933. The ventilator doesn’t take a ball nut but has a threaded insert so that a shade can be fitted and it can serve as a lamp. The pump lacks an air tube and positive shut-off as found on almost all Coleman models. This lantern, in Dean DeGroff’s collection, was restored by Fred Kuntz.



Model 242A was made in 1934-36. The pump handle lacks an air tube and positive shut-off as Model 242 above but does have a bayonet mount (lower image from John Stendahl) This lantern has a reproduction mica globe; a mica globe was standard on this model.




The bottom plate of the 242A lantern above was heavily galvanized at the factory, a common occurrence in the 1930s, so the date numbers don’t show up (upper image). Robert Burnes used a direct radiography panel to capture x-rays for the middle and lower images. This technique revealed the month number 3 (for March) in the upper right of the central opaque area. The year number wasn’t found in the lower left of the central opaque area and may not have been stamped.

The date stamping on the bottom of this 427 Coleman is covered with galvanizing but the lantern is stamped on one side of the rim 1934 and N.P. RY. on another side (lower image). The dent on the “shoulder” of the fount below the collar seam (upper image) contains a stamped “R”, perhaps because they first tried to stamp it above the rim. The stamping was likely done in a maintenance shop of the Northern Pacific Railway. This lantern is now in Jay Tews’ collection.

This Coleman 220B is date stamped July 1935 on the bottom. It was stamped CCC on the bottom rim between the filler plug and valve wheel (both images) presumably for the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC was established by the US Government in 1933 and “allowed single men between the ages of 18 and 25 to enlist in work programs to improve America’s public lands, forests, and parks.This lantern, in Nick Loe’s collection, was found in Wisconsin.

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Neil McRae notes that Model 246 was Coleman’s number for the 242 lantern made for export. This lantern is date stamped October 1935. It has a valve body assembly and filler cap screw as on Model 242K below, and a solid pump handle and burner casting as on the 242A above. This lantern, that was found in Germany, is in Dean & Linda DeGroff’s collection.



Coleman in Wichita also made Model 242K in the mid 1930s. This kerosene fueled lantern lacks a date stamp and was an export model. Note the Bakelite tip cleaner wheel (upper image, left) as on the Canadian 242K. This lantern is in Michael Merz’s collection.

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The Wichita factory also made the kerosene fueled Model 247, at least in February 1936 when this lantern is date stamped. The side fount stamp is identical to the stamping on US version of Model 242K above. Mario Mussini’s grandfather got the lantern in the late 30s while he was working for an oil company in northwestern Argentina. Coleman’s Toronto, Canada, factory produced Model 247 from 1936 until at least 1952.




This early 246B is date stamped September 1935. Elliott Fowle, whose collection this is in, found it in France. This 246B is unique in having a lighting door (upper and middle image). Only the early 246Bs have the base rest stamped with lighting instructions and with openings in the base rest below the valve and tip cleaner stems. The lighting door (middle image) is faintly stamped in French (Imported from the United States of America). The bottom rim of the fount (lower image) is stamped MADE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA in a small font.


A Model 228B Coleman, dated Sept. ’33. This lantern has an original globe in which the logo was sandblasted into the glass. This lantern is in Fred Kuntz’s collection.

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Coleman in Wichita made these Model 223 lanterns for export in the mid 1930’s. They have brass frames and unusual lighting hole doors. This is a kerosene fueled 300 cp model; These came from Thailand and are in Michael Merz’s collection.

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This Model 223B lantern is also undated but was presumably made after Model 223 above. The B version also has a provision to add a pressure gauge. This lantern, in Warren Wright’s collection, lacks the large lighting doors as on Model 223 above and has a cast aluminum preheater cup.


Another export model, 225, was the same as Model 223 above except for steel construction. The ventilator on this lantern, in Michael Merz’s collection, may be a replacement.

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Coleman made the L427 Quick-Lite lantern with embossed founts for the U. S. Forest Service from the spring, 1932 until the fall, 1939. The lanterns, dated Mar ’33 & Feb ’35, are in Deems Burton’s collection.



This lantern is similarly equipped as the Quick-Lites above but is only stamped F.S (for the U.S. Forest Service) on the rim of the fount that was once painted red. The lantern, in John Rugotzke’s collection, is date stamped Dec ’29.



This L427 Quick-Lite was also made for the US Forest Service but has USFS stippled into the fount guided by a stencil rather than embossed (lower image). This lantern, in John Rugotzke’s collection, appears to be dated Jan ’36.

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By the time Coleman made this L427 Quick-Lite (Dec. ’36), the ventilator still lacked a brim but the bail was bent out to allow it to be used with a brimmed vent. The built-in pump is not angled to the right side inside the bottom of the fount; the fuel tube in the fount is bent to pass around the pump (right image). This lantern is in John Rugotzke’s collection.



Other Federal agencies besides the USFS marked lanterns as their property. This L427 lantern has a decal (lower image) showing it was owned by the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), a branch of the US Department of Agriculture. The SCS was started in 1932; the lantern is date stamped March, 1936. This lantern, in Larry Hillhouse’s collection, also has identifying marks painted and scratched on the bottom plate.

© 2000-2023 Terry Marsh