Q: I acquired a kerosene lamp in Utah last year. It seems to be brass and has a metal plate with the words, “Property of Pony Express Station #9.” What can you tell me about it?
A: The metal plate on your lamp is probably a fake. Many fake and fantasy maker or owner tags are showing up on oil lamps, lanterns and locks to suggest a connection that makes them more attractive to collectors. The oil lamps and other items themselves are also probably fakes or reproductions from India or China. The most common of these fake tags are small, brass rectangular plates with simple, nondescript lettering. The plates advertise real or fictitious companies—railroads, delivery companies and even prisons—that are desirable to collectors interested in Wild West memorabilia or railroadiana. Pony Express and Wells Fargo are two of the most often referenced. The items may be nice collectibles, just don’t expect them to be real.