Q: My antique railroad lantern is marked “Thompson’s Pat. April 27, 1869” on the back. It’s marked “Pacific” on the front. What’s it worth?
A: Railroad lanterns are favorites of collectors of “railroadiana” (railroad antiques and collectibles). Nathan Thompson of Brooklyn, N.Y., received a patent for his “lantern improvement” in 1869. His lantern was produced for years and purchased by many different railroad companies. The Pacific Railroad, chartered by Missouri in 1849, was reorganized in 1872 as the Missouri Pacific Railway. So it’s likely your lantern was manufactured in the early 1870s. A Thompson Patent lantern like yours auctioned last fall for $143.