Ever since a policeman first walked a beat,
whether in a rural or urban setting, the need to
carry portable illumination was almost as
important as the weapons he carried. Early oil
lanterns provided some help but they were
large, awkward and almost impossible to cast
light in a specific direction not to mention, that
the officer could be seen two blocks away.
The solution came in a product designed for
law enforcement which incorporated a smaller
size, a directional capability and what amounts
to an off and on switch. One of the companies
that made these extraordinary lamps was the
Dietz company. The lantern worked very much
like its larger counterparts, but had two unique
features. The first was a thick fish-eyed lens
and the second was a lens shield.
Displayed here are three basic variations of the
Dietz lamp. They were all the same basic size.
Versions one and two have a folding handle for
carrying as well as a belt clip. The lens shield
was operated from a slide handle at the bottom
of the lamp. Version one took two hands to hold
the lamp and turn it off and on .Version two has
the same handle configuration but has a thumb
operated level for the lamp shield. It can be
operated with one hand.
The final version also has the lens shield
activating handle at the top and rear of the lamp
so it could be activated and carried in one
hand. Most of the lamps were made out of
Japan finished steel however as an option solid
brass models were available.
A fellow collector, Richard Knack, informed me
of a fourth variation. It is similar to the number
three, however instead of the thumb operated
shield, it has the traditional slide handle at the
bottom of the lamp. It has the same flip up
handle. Thanks to Richard for the information.
The Dietz lamps have a police designation on
the back plate of the handle. Internally the
lamps have a double wick and were designed
to run on whale oil and were later upgraded to
kerosene. Matthew Forte has written several
excellent books on American police
collectibles which include information on "
US Handcuffs and Collectibles
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