Coleman US lanterns 1936 – 1945

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Coleman kerosene lanterns, Model 234 (one mantle, 175 cp) on the left, and Model 235 (two mantle, 300 cp) in the middle and right. The 234 is all original and dated February, 1936. This lantern is in Fred Kuntz’s collection. The 235 in the middle has the original globe, is stamped LQ on the fount base, and is dated December, 1935. This lantern is in Mark Baldwin’s collection. The 235 on the right, also dated Dec. ’35, is in Neil McRae’s collection.


Model 243 was an economy lantern made in 1936. Economy features include a one-piece ventilator, steel burner casting (rather than brass), painted fount (not nickel plated), and a European style pump with a bayonet mount on the handle. This lantern, in Neil McRae’s collection, has the month stamp obscured by galvanizing.

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Model 243A was made for several years beginning in 1937. The lantern on the left, in Neil McRae’s collection, is dated Aug. 1937 and still has a centering stud on the top of the burner in lieu of a ball nut. The pump is now a typical Coleman pump with a positive shutoff. The lantern on the right, in Dan MacPherson’s collection, is dated Aug. 1941. The later version of Model 243A has a ball nut to hold the ventilator in place.

This Coleman 220B is date stamped September 1937 and is also engraved USBR 4410.3 on the lower rim (both images) and USBR on the shoulder of the fount by the pump (not seen). Nick Loe, whose collection this is in, determined that it was probably the property of the US Bureau of Reclamation. The Bureau of Reclamation had been active in the western US since the early 1900s by building canals, dams, and power plants in 17 western states. We don’t know what the 4410.3 signifies.

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Jim Nichols spent many hours profiling the cut-away 242B lantern (right) in his shop to create the image that you see here. The nickel plating has been removed. The air tube from the base of the pump to the top of the fount prevents gas from leaking back out the pump if the check valve should fail. The 242B on the left, owned by Doug & Nadine Rorem, is dated Oct. ’37.

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We believe that the Coleman Lamp and Stove Co. in Los Angeles, California, manufactured or had these No. 36 “Handy Pails” made for Junior size lanterns. This “Handy Pail” came with a 242B inside when Dwayne Hanson found it. The instructions call for storing the lantern upside down on a rag or newspaper in the can (to protect the mantle).


This embossed Coleman globe came on a 242B. Some are also embossed Made in U.S.A. on the back; this one, in George Remkus’ collection, is not. All of these of which I am aware are cracked or missing a piece of glass in nearly the same place and pattern on the upper right. There is a small “4” embossed above Pyrex on this globe (not visible).


State agencies also marked lanterns for their use. Parts of this 242B dated December, 1939, were hand painted red and lettered CDF (California Department of Forestry), S CO (Sonoma County – where the lantern was found), D 1 (Division 1). This lantern is in Charlie Holum’s collection.



This Coleman 228B, dated October, 1937, is unusual in having a brass tag and painted letters on the bottom identifying it as belonging to the WPA (Works Progress Administration), a federal agency created in 1935 to employ workers for public works projects. This lantern is in Dick Sellers collection.



This 242B, dated July, 1938, also has a brass tag identifying it as the property of the WPA but it is on the lower side of the fount (lower image). Compare to the 228B above this lantern. This lantern is in Nick Loe’s collection.



This Model L427 Quick-Lite is date stamped August 1939. Gary Kachur, whose collection this is in, bought it from a family that lived and worked in Chicago, Illinois. Both the lantern and the wooden case are stamped in several places C.E. CO. (Commonwealth Edison Co., the electric utility in the Chicago area). It is also stamped with a 4 and Service and Repair Department (lower image). A drawer in the case includes the original lantern instructions.

This early Col-Max 333 was made in the Wichita factory in Jan-Jun 1941. Col-Max models had a special stamping on the side of the fount (lower image) that includes the Col-Max name and has a wider and flatter Sunshine logo with 13 rays and no hillside under the sun’s rays. This lantern was found in Papua New Guinea, and is now in Tony Press’ collection. After WWII Col-Max lanterns were made in Canada, the US, and other countries.


Coleman – Wichita made Model 236 lanterns but not in large numbers. These lanterns are not date stamped, and we have not seen them mentioned in any Coleman literature. I believe this one dates to the early 1940’s based on the stamping on the side of the fount and the style of some of the parts such as the cast pump cap. This 500 cp gasoline lantern is in Ron Becker’s collection.



Coleman only advertised their first Model 237 (237A – lower image) for the first half of 1941; the lanterns are not date stamped. We don’t know why they didn’t produce a 237 stamped model for several more years. Note the valve wheel is held with a screw, just as on Model 237B (see below) that they produced for the military in 1943-44. This lantern is in Justin Bell’s collection.

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By the end of the 220/228B model run in 1942 Coleman painted the founts green, and stamped them U.S. They continued to lack any model identification. Model 228B (left), in Dean DeGroff’s collection, is date stamped August ’42, has a brass fount, and most of the usual brass parts are still made with brass. Model 220B (right) is date stamped November ’42, has a steel fount, and a number of other parts are steel.

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This 220B dated March ’42 was marked for the U.S. Forest Service in the Olympic National Forest with USFS painted red on the bottom, and now nearly worn away, and with the red band around the bottom of the fount. Crystal Harman, whose collection this is in, was able to get the history of this lantern from the descendants of the forester who once used it.


This 242B is stamped as such on the collar and is date stamped Nov. ’41 on the bottom. The brass sided fount is protected with green paint as are the lanterns below made in ’42. This lantern is in Alex Swanson’s collection.

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These are the earliest 220BX/220C lanterns that I have seen; they are date stamped Nov. 1942 (left) and Jan. 1943 (right). The model is not stamped but we know Coleman’s designation from boxes in which this model came; the bottom is stamped U.S. They have progressively more steel parts than either the 220/228B above. These lanterns are in Blake Brallier’s collection (left) and in Dean DeGroff’s collection (right).


Another Coleman kerosene lantern, this is Model 237B. It is dated July, 1944.
Complete with the #330 globe, this model is in Fred Kuntz’s collection.

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Initial production of the mil-spec lantern by Coleman in 1944 resulted in lanterns without parts wells; Coleman designated these their Model 252, per Roger Hill. This one, in Kyle Marsh’s collection, is stenciled 27 AAA (Anti Aircraft Artillery) and 12 PLT. (Platoon).

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This Model 242C lantern is only identified with a white stencil on the bottom where it is also date stamped 4 9 – Sept. ’44 (right image). The lantern is not stamped U.S. The brass sided fount is protected with green paint. This lantern is in Sean McGee’s collection.

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By 1945 Coleman’s mil spec lantern included a parts well (right image, uncapped). Coleman designated this version with the parts well Model 252A. The parts in this parts well, in George Burl’s collection, appear to have never been unpacked.

© 2000-2023 Terry Marsh