Friday's auction had a pre-auction of 140 lanterns from one man's collection. The crazy lantern collectors bought the best ones, but somehow I ended up with eight. Every other purchaser was a man.
Perhaps because they are sensible and utilitarian, with a certain rugged appeal. Their purpose was to aid the hard work of fire fighters; train, road and ship crews; builders of dams; farmers, etc. Of course they also have a bit of romantic appeal if you consider their purpose: bringing light.
My favorite is this Traffic Gard made for the City of Flint, Michigan--its design is relatively stylish and I love the specificity of its name, city and purpose.
You may have seen my post on the orange Little Defiance.
Now I have a Defiance. Defiance was the name of a lantern company that did not survive the stock market crash of 1929, and was bought out by a larger company. As with any manufactured product, the history of lanterns has its dark side, including labor unrest and factory fires.
At a purely aesthetic level, I enjoy how they look together. Kind of ordinary when viewed solo, they gain visual appeal when grouped. I don't feel that way about many objects--I prefer to spread things around, mix types of objects and styles. I never thought of myself as a collector, but somehow I ended up with a lot of old pottery, mostly vases. I usually don't display them together (except in occasional small groupings) preferring to place them around the house, where they stand on their own beautifully. I also move them frequently, so they stay visually fresh. In the store I've gone both ways, tending to scatter. But then one weekend I put a lot of the vases together and I love how they look.
I would enjoy hearing any thoughts you care to share on collections and their display.