Confusing pumpkin lanternsBy

Confusing pumpkin lanterns

New pumpkin electrical lanterns in the market are confusing copies of vintage novelty lanterns, and the actual production pieces are different from the early samples reported in another article.

New shades, for example, in the actual production run are clear glass rather than opaque white glass. New shades are reverse painted with paint applied to the inside of the shade. Vintage shades are opaque white glass with the paint applied to the outside of the shade.

Original lanterns operate on batteries which fit inside the metal lantern base. The new lamps are powered by 120-volt household current and have an attached power cord and plug (Fig. 6). The smaller new lantern is close in size to the original pumpkin lantern shown in Fig. 2. The larger 10-inch new lantern is a fantasy shape, no original is known in that size.

The new lanterns shown here were wholesale priced at $18.50 and $14.50 each. Original miniature lanterns with milk glass shades can sell for up to $175.

When examining the lanterns in person, it's fairly easy to separate new from old. Simply looking at photos of the lanterns in online auctions is quite another matter.

If you can't make a firsthand examination, be sure and ask the seller some detailed questions. Original lanterns are battery powered with opaque white glass shades that are painted on the outside. New lanterns have a power cord and plug with clear glass shades that are painted on the inside.

You should also be alert for the small new shade being represented as a candy container.

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Fig. 1 New figural pumpkin lanterns with painted glass globes and metal bases. Left, 10 inches overall with 5½-inch dia. glass shade; right, 7 inches overall with 3¼-inch shade.

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Fig. 2 Vintage miniature lanterns with painted opaque white glass shades made ca. 1940-1950s. Paint on these vintage shades is applied to the outside surface. Note how closely the vintage shade and metal frame of the pumpkin is copied in the new lanterns in Fig. 1. Courtesy The Milk Glass Book, Chiarenza and Slater, Schiffer Publishing, 1998.

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Fig. 3 New lamp shown with shade removed. New lamps use large 120-volt Christmas tree-style light bulbs. The original lanterns in Fig. 2 use small flashlight-sized 1½-volt light bulbs. The shape of the new metal frame and base, though, is very similar to the originals.

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Fig. 4 New shades are held in place with a setscrew. The screw passes through the top of the handle putting pressure on a metal cap above the glass shade.

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Fig. 5 Bottom rim of new glass shade. The paint from the inside of the shade spills out over the edge. There were numerous paint flakes (arrows) on our samples. There are no paint flakes on the insides or base of old shades because old shades were painted on the outside only, not on the inside.

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Fig. 6 A new lantern showing the 120-volt power cord and plug. Both sizes of new pumpkin shades are double-sided with the face on both sides.

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Fig. 7 New lamps arrive from the wholesaler with a "Made in India" paper label.