The Dietz No. 40 Traffic Gard Lantern

We bought this Dietz No. 40 Traffic Gard kerosene lantern for $14.95 from Tom Murphy in Pendergrass, Georgia. Tom says that it belonged to his Grandpa, Herbert “Pete” Bowman, who worked as a trainman for the Kansas City Southern Railway Co. between 1920 and 1950. When Tom sold us the lantern he said that it “came complete with all the dust, dirt and soot from years of use.” As the picture shows, it had not been cleaned up or restored in any way. It measures just eight inches high.

The Dietz No. 40 Traffic Gard Lantern

Attic Explorers discover the Dietz No. 40 Traffic Gard Lantern.

I did a little detective work and found out that the Traffic Gard was introduced by the W. C. Embury Company in 1940. According to W.T. Kirkman, it was marketed for use by highway contractors, utility companies, and municipalities to warn night time drivers of road hazards. The R.E. Dietz Co. bought Embury in 1953, and resumed production of the No. 40 Traffic Gard lantern under the Dietz name into the 1960’s when it was replaced by battery-powered warning lights.


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This particular lantern is a Dietz, manufactured in Rochester, New York, U.S.A.. Its ¼” round wick marks it as an early model and the fact that it has a thick, ridged, fresnel globe means that it is no older than 1956, the year when Dietz replaced the fresnel globe with a plain glass one.

The Traffic Guard is unique because of its stiff, wire handle which kept the hot lantern away from worker’s hands when they held it and for its wide, squat base that prevented tipping.

Whenever I drive by a highway work site, complete with high-powered, football stadium-like lights and gigantic digital warning signs, I’m amused to think that not all that long ago, these lanterns were the primary way that roadside hazards were marked.

Joe Miller, AtticExplorer.com

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