"The phone is a remarkably complex, simple device,
and very rarely ever needs repairs, once you fix them." - Dan/Panther

Main Menu

1935 Perko Class 2 Maritime Navigation Lantern

Started by TelePlay, April 20, 2022, 11:58:15 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


Saw this sitting in an antique store. It looked sad but interesting. Someone decided to paint the galvanized metal with thick, lead based red enamel. It didn't stick to the metal exposed to the elements but it did stick to the solder holding the lens in place and the rest of the lantern.

It is a circa 1935 Perko Old Style Class 2 navigational (boat) side light. This is one of two and being red it was used on the port (left) side of a ship at night. The twin lantern would have had a green and would have been used on the starboard (right) side.

These are 90° angular lanterns meant to be mounted on the ship so that it could only be seen from the front or the front quarter side, not the back. Seeing a red lantern meant approaching the boat from its left front side, green the right front side.

Being a navigational lantern, if one would see both red and green the same time and with them getting brighter, it meant one would be approaching another boat in a head on collision course. To just see red or green meant to be approaching from the front right or front left. To this day, boats and airplanes use red and green colors for the same purpose.

This is Perko "Old Style" in that just a few years later they came out with a design in which the glass lens was hinged so the lantern could be opened and lit from the front. The old style required the burner to be removed from the bottom, lit and placed back in lantern. Since they were selling both kerosene and electric side lights in their 1935 Catalog for the same price, this particular lantern may have come from the 1920s.

Class 2 indicates the side light is for a boat ranging from 26 to 39 feet long.

In the restoration, it was difficult getting the thick, red enamel off of the lantern and lens. And, the inside reflector was quite rusted so it had to be replaced.

I restored the lantern to what I thought would be a clean, well used lantern back in the 1930's. Not anywhere close to NOS but clean and functional.

Would have been nice to find it's twin green one at the same time, but not the case.

Few of these survived to this day in that most navigation lights were converted to electric in the 1930's and the kerosene lanterns tossed.

I paid $59 plus tax which wasn't bad for something different. It puts off a night light through its red Fresnel lens.Not a valid attachment ID.


NICE! Great job on the restoration, as usual. I agree something different is always nice to find.
Harry Smith
ATCA 4434

"There is no try,
there is only
do or do not"


Mighty nice!  Those colored lamps are beautiful.  I once had a oil railway switch indication lantern.  I sold it and have regretted it since.
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
— Arthur C. Clarke


Great restoration on a nice lantern, John. Hopefully you'll come across its twin brother in green at some point.

I'd heard the term 'fresnel' but knew little about it...just found this entry in the dictionary:

Fresnel, Augustin Jean
(1788–1827), French physicist and civil engineer. He correctly postulated that light has a wave-like motion transverse to the direction of propagation, contrary to the longitudinal direction suggested by Christiaan Huygens and Thomas Young.

...which is all very interesting. Will have to read up on Monsieur Fresnel a bit more.


Very nice restoration and a pretty lantern.

QuoteWill have to read up on Monsieur Fresnel a bit more......

Thanks for the nudge. Certainly quite a bit to read up on:

Nice to see the tradition of stones being placed by many visitors to his grave (shown on the photograph of his burial site in Paris).

A collector of  'Monochrome Phones with Sepia Tones'   ...and a Duck!
Vintage Phones - 10% man made, 90% Tribble


My home town on Lake Michigan has a lighthouse on the end of it 1,250 foot navigation pier. For most of its 100 year existence, the light used a 5th order Fresnel lens used to focus or amplify the light generated by a very high wattage Edison lamp. The US Coast Guard replaced the light with a high power LED a couple of years ago in a cost/maintenance saving move.

The lens, valued from $150,000 to $300,000 now sits in a local historical museum.

"Compared to a conventional lens, a Fresnel (pronounced "freh-nel") uses a series of stepped pieces of glass to capture and refract light, allowing it to be thinner and more compact while focusing and projecting its beam. Its first use was in the Cordouan lighthouse in France in 1823."

This is the removed lens. It's about 5' high and 3' at its widest. Light could be seen for 20 miles, to the horizon curvature.