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Posted By: Chuck Lee on: 06/20/2002 14:13:20 CDT
Subject: RE: Anyone making these lanterns?

Message Detail:
I'm aware of a company called "The Finishing Touche'" that has had some of these Lanterns made in - I believe I'm recalling this correctly - Pakistan or Micronesia. They're the same folks making the mahogany bentwood folding chairs, like US Grant's chair, that are advertised in *Camp Chase Gazette* - though the wood isn't bent, but rather is cut. The Lanterns are $85, and made in brass - not really a heavy gauge brass so much as a heavy gauge brass foil (sort of like taking industrial aluminum foil and using three thicknesses - you can still dent it with gentle finger pressure, but as long as nothing touches it, it looks good.

A friend in our artillery company bought one of the lanterns and one of the chairs. He said that he left the candle (or other light source - not sure right now) burning in the lantern, and the heat buildup was sufficient to melt all of the soldered joints. He's not sure if he kept the pieces or threw them away, but said that if he still has them, he'll get dimensions for me.

The same friend offered the opinion that the Lantern was made in brass because they had an extant example in brass (both of the owners of the company having them made are also connected with Confederate museums and have considerable collenctions of their own). He said that the reproduction Lanterns have a polished brass mirror inside to reflect and help amplify the light. Is that true of the original tin Lanterns? I'm guessing that any mirror would be a real mirror, and not a polished brass plate.

I believe that he said the Lantern came with a candle holder, but nothing to allow the use of whale oil or kerosene (unlike the new Dietz lantern that's supposed to be accurate for the early 1850s, and allows for either candle or liquid fuel - but has a stone-speckled finish that I'm uncertain of in reference to authenticity). I'll ask him to be sure.

I'm looking at American Scientific and Edmunds Scientific (I think those are the right company names) for lenses for cameras, and will ask them about lenses for the Lanterns. That raises a question, then, that I'm sure most of you can answer regarding lenses, and which I'll need to know the answer to when asking about lenses for the Lantern.

In making sliding box cameras (that's where the camera is actually a box within a box, and instead of the lens adjusting for focus, the box itself on which a fixed lens is mounted slides back and forth within another box for focus), they used achromatic lenses. I've been reading about achromatic lenses so that I can get a handle on what they are and all the specifications that normally go along with them. What kind of lens will I need for the Lantern? Is it a simple convex lens?

As for the lens needing to be cloudy rather than clear, I'm guessing that any inexpensive (i.e., affordable, not custom made) lens from the usual suppliers will be clear. How can I cloud a lens? Can it be done effectively by etching the glass chemically, and if so, what chemicals do I need? Or can it be etched - frosted, in effect - by glass bead blasting it (similar to sandblasting, but the medium is a glass bead product so fine that it can be inhaled easily)? If bead blasting is acceptable, would both sides of the lens need to be blasted, or only one side (probably the inside?)?

If I can get an overall height and diameter, I can proceed with a prototype in the next couple of weeks. I'll make a half dozen or so from aluminum flashing until I learn how to do all the steps correctly so that I don't waste tin. A friend has a pretty nice little machine shop at his house, and I'm about due a visit to his house.

Chuck Lee

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