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Dietz Vesta Lantern Combat Serviceable


5thrangerson
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5thrangerson

Found  this lantern that has a Combat Serviceable tag on it from the Utah Ordnance depot. Has patent dates of 1920 to 5-5-42.

Were these common items and when and where were they used? Do the paint marks on it mean anything?

Thanks again for any help!!

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Interesting.  These are classified as railroad lanterns but I wasn't aware the military used them.  Sometimes you even find them with stamped markings to a specific railroad.  I'm sure they had other uses, so it's possible the military application had nothing to do with railroads.

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Here's mine in WW1 Medical Department maroon paint. Regrettably many years ago I passed on one that had MEDICAL DEPT US ARMY embossed on the top.

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FWIW, US Army had miles and miles of railroads in European theater in and WWI and WWII. Very nice piece and in super condition.

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5thrangerson

Thanks for the comments all. In a previous life I was a die hard railroad nut. So this can be the best of both worlds I guess.

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illinigander

If you look at 1890's- to WWI era US artillery limbers, you will find a U-shaped metal piece attached to the ammo chest.  It is 7" in dia. with a loop on each side.  This held a "railroad-style" lantern with a US marked globe.  The two loops retained the lantern with a leather keeper. I have found two or three US lanterns through the years.  Antique shops tend to keep railroad lanterns in a group; this is the best place to find an artillery one.

illinigander

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  • 1 month later...
CAC1901

The Dietz Vesta was a very popular lantern with some US railroads and with the US government. There are two distinct general types of Vestas: the 'hi-top 'model which is shown by the Medical Department variant pictured below yours, and the lo-top model which you have. The hi-top is earlier, introduced around 1907 until replaced by the lo-top version at the end of the 1920's. The lo-top continued through the end of the 1940's.  Generally, US government purchased Vestas were not marked or stamped on the frames, unlike the railroads. (The Vesta was a very popular model with NE US railroads including the New York Central.)  There are Vestas marked Ord. Dept. US Army,  Trans. Dept. US Army, M.D. US Army, and US E.D. (Engineering Dept.) all of which are scarcer. The vast majority of US purchased Vestas were unstamped and thus indistinguishable from any Vesta bought by any entity (such as a street or cable car company) or even individuals.  However, many did originally come with a clear globe cast with 'U.S.A.' (ca. 1907-20s) or just U.S. (1920s-40s). Factors that help ID a US purchased Vesta, beyond provenance, include original period applied OD, green, or red (med. dept.) paint jobs.  I've also seen unmarked Vestas with USN provenance painted battleship grey.  (There is also a spectacular all brass model Vesta marked US Navy Deck Standard.) Most Vestas though, like yours, will be in their factory supplied tinned steel finish. Incidentally the mfg. date on most Dietz lanterns is the last line by the patents dates starting with a letter M or S. Yours is S-5-42 which equates to the 'S'yracuse NY factory, May 1942.  Unstamped or unmarked lo-top Vestas are pretty common lanterns per se. HOWEVER.... yours, with that decal, is the first I've ever seen. So its pretty rare. Not only that.. but the condition is fantastic and untampered with!  I hope I don't need to say it, but don't try to clean or polish it. As far as its use, these were used in any general application where a lantern was needed: facilities not lit by electric light, bunkers, storage facilities, tenting while in the field, etc. The US did not necessarily use these for a RR application although they were used in that context too. 

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