Digest>Archives> June 2004

Collecting Nautical Antiques

Lighthouse Service Blanket, River Lights, etc.

By Jim Claflin


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As you saw last month, antique photo restorer Andy Price recently sent us a number of wonderful photos that he restored and printed from antique glass negatives including a number of images that provide great views of a little known aspect of the Lighthouse Service’s work - that of maintaining aids to navigation along the country’s major rivers. Last month we showed a fine image of a combination daymark with a three-sided oil lantern.

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This month’s second view is particularly rare, detailing Lighthouse Service crews renewing the acetylene tank at the Cohansey Inner Light in New Jersey. This great view shows the acetylene lantern on top of the white daymark, with the acetylene tank shed at the base of the tower. These types of beacons are often overlooked and were rarely photographed. Andy’s views provide wonderful details of these little known aids to navigation.

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A second item found recently by reader Theresa Kisha is a beautiful US Lighthouse Service wool blanket. Theresa notes that it belonged to the family of a lightship officer who once served in the New England area. There were two or three styles of blankets used over the years and such pieces were standard issue on all lighthouse vessels and at many light stations, particularly offshore stations. At many of the easily accessible shore stations the keepers many times were required to provide their own bedding and household furnishings. This example bears the bold emblem of the “United States Lighthouse Service” in the middle in dark brown, 10 1/2” in diameter, and generally had sewn-on maroon satin end pieces top and bottom, and sewn reinforced edges on either side. The body of the blanket is heavy wool, lighter brown in color, and usually measured about 5 feet wide by 6 feet 3 inches long. This is a very scarce lighthouse relic and we thank Theresa for sending us her photo.

Like our column? Have suggestions for future subjects? Please send in your suggestions and questions, or a photograph of an object that you need help dating or identifying. We will include the answer to a selected inquiry as a regular feature each month in our column.

Jim Claflin is a recognized authority on antiques of the U.S. Lighthouse Service, Life-Saving Service, Revenue Cutter Service and early Coast Guard. Jim is the owner of Kenrick A Claflin & Son Nautical Antiques. In business since 1956, he has specialized in antiques of this specialty since the early 1990’s. He may be contacted by writing to him at 1227 Pleasant Street, Worcester, MA 01602, or by calling 508-792-6627. You may email: jclaflin@lighthouseantiques.net or visit his web site at www.lighthouseantiques.net

This story appeared in the June 2004 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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