Now there are 4 pages of Vintage Flashlights For Sale.
They have been updated, so be sure to check back every few months.
Updated February 2013
I have acted as an expert witness in 8 flashlight litigation matters. As an attorney and flashlight historian, I have been instrumental in defending and prosecuting cases involving flashlight patents and claims. I am available as an expert witness through my law office number.
History and Early Flashlights
Condition counts! If your flashlight was made after 1912 and is in rusty or damaged condition, it is probably, not very collectible.
1900 Ever Ready Clover Leaf Bicycle lantern.
The Flashlight Museum shows a portion of my collection and currently covers, Early flashlights, Sterling Silver lights, Art Deco Purse lights, Tin Lithographed lights, Flippo Keychain lights showing cartoon charactors and personalities, and a selection of miscellaneous neat flashlights that I thought that you would enjoy. Don't miss the section on "recent acquisitions".
(Parts of the following text are excerpted from my book, Collecting Flashlights, copyright by Stuart Schneider, 1996. No part of this information may be used for any reason, except with the written permission of Stuart Schneider.) Copies of Collecting Flashlights may be ordered for $32.90 postpaid (Paypal, check or money order) from Stuart Schneider, P.O. Box 64, Teaneck, NJ 07666
Portable electric lights are a relatively recent invention, but actually older than most people think. Searching in a dark closet before 1896, one had to use a candle or kerosene lantern. Accidents occurred and fires followed. A safer alternative was needed. The first trustworthy lighting device was the flashlight, invented about 1896. Portable electric lights were called "flash lights" since they would not give a long steady stream of light. The carbon filament bulbs were inefficient and the batteries were weak, allowing the user to flash the light on for only a few seconds, then release the contact. Very early lights did not have an on/off switch, just a ring or tab that would push against a button or band of metal. When batteries and bulbs became more efficient, the switch was improved. As flashlight became popular, flashlight makers began to add decorative elements to the lights.
Above is the 1902 Reliable flashlight with a sliding bridge switch.
I would like to buy Reliable, Matchless, and other early (pre-1912) interesting switch flashlights.
A 1902 Matchless flashlight in the 2 D cell size.
A 1902 Reliable flashlight in the 3 D cell size. Its end cap is unmarked.
Since the flashlight could not exist without a battery and a bulb, the history of the flashlight is associated with batteries and bulbs. The first battery appeared in 1866, invented by French inventor, George Leclanche. He called it a "single fluid electric generating battery". It was a wet cell, made by filling a glass jar with ammonium chloride, manganese dioxide and zinc and then adding a carbon bar for the positive end of the cell. It was not portable. If tipped over, the acid would spill out. Thomas Edison invented the incandescent bulb in 1879. Improvement to the battery came in 1888, when a German scientist, Dr. Carl Gassner, encased the wet cell chemicals in a sealed zinc container. This was the first dry cell and the first portable battery.
The O.T. Bugg Friendly Beacon Electric Candle sold by the United States Battery Company.Patented November 15, 1898.It is 8 inches tall and took 2 "D" cells which were contained in the upright tube. This early brass flashlight was turned on by screwing down the pointy thing on the top (to use the technical term.) The design and lines of this beauty would fit right in to a 1920s Flash Gordon adventure. "Don't move. I am turning on the Protecto-Ray".
The leading name in flashlights was Eveready. Eveready, originally named "The American Electrical Novelty and Manufacturing Company" was founded by Conrad Hubert. Hubert did not invent the first flashlight. David Misell qualifies as the inventor of the tubular flashlight and the early bicycle light. Conrad Hubert was born Akiba Horowitz on April 15, 1856 in Minsk, Russia. He came to the United States in 1891 and changed his name to Conrad Hubert. A few years later he opened a novelty shop in New York City and probably sold some of the battery powered items made by Birdsall Electric Mfg., an 1896 unsuccessful early maker of battery powered devices. David Misell worked for Birdsall and bought their assets when that company failed. He was an inventor and not a businessman, so in 1897, he went to work for Conrad Hubert.
In 1895, a #6 battery was needed to produce useful light. The #6 battery was six inches high and weighed over three pounds. In 1896, the "D" cell battery was invented and several together could produce the power of the #6 battery in a much smaller size. They provided enough power to make hand held portable light a possibility. One of the early electrical novelties powered by a battery was a simple stick pin with a miniature bulb. Wires connected the bulb to a battery hidden in a pocket or behind a scarf (tie). When the wearer pressed a switch carried in the pocket, the bulb flashed. "D" batteries powered the scarf pins. The scarf pin was a novelty when introduced, but users discovered practical uses for it, such as reading in dark restaurants or theaters.
Circa 1905 porcelain stick pin with a clown's head (see the stick pin collection on the Recent Acquisitions page). The wire leads to battery case that held a 2 "AA" battery pack. On the right is a wooden Eveready House Light made about 1912. The front face has a rounded edge. The earlier 1906 model of this light is distinguishable from this one by a 45 degree flat bevel on the front edge and the earliest version has a funnel shaped reflector.
About 1897, David Misell patented several flashlights. One was a 3 "D" cell bicycle light with a wooden battery case. Misell filed the application for the bicycle light patent on October 9, 1897. When the patent was granted on April 26, 1898, it was assigned to Conrad Hubert's company, The American Electrical Novelty and Manufacturing Co. which later become Eveready.
American Electrical Novelty and Manufacturing Co. of New York was formed to sell these new battery powered devices. Misell and Hubert assembled a number of tubular flashlights and gave them to New York City policemen in different precincts. As shown in their first catalog, by March, 1898, Hubert began receiving favorable testimonials from the policemen. Testimonials are statements from people extolling the virtues of a certain product. These testimonials were used in the company's literature to promote sales. Hubert was a great salesman and the publicity obtained by the testimonials made the public want to own a flashlight.
On January 21, 1899, Conrad Hubert filed a patent application for a clover-leaf bicycle light (shown near the top of this page). The patent was granted on October 24, 1899. In 1898 Conrad Hubert produced his first catalog. The cover of his second catalog of 1899, showed the world being illuminated with Hubert's flashlight, with the words "Let There Be Light". The catalog featured 25 different battery/bulb objects. The brand name of the products was "Ever Ready". During the first few years of the company, the name "Ever Ready" did not appear on their lights. By about 1902 the name was stamped on the endplate of the light.
Above are three variations of the first tubular flashlight - The 1899 Model One Ever Ready ring contact Flashlight. The screw thread model (lower photo) is the second version of the Model One, ca.1900. The top photo shows two first Model One lights. They have a bayonet locking bottom cap and a friction fit top cap. None are marked "Ever Ready". There are patent dates on the middle band of each light.
The 1899-1900 Ever Ready Gas Fixture lighter with a revised rocker switch. The bulb allowed you to see where the gas valve was and the cone held the platinum coil that heated and lit the gaslight.
When you think of what a flashlight is, you rarely think of table lights. These three are 1899-1904 Ever Ready candle lights with a battery in the base. The "Lily", the "Iron Candle", & the "O.N.C. Candle" and a rare 1902 Reliable Iron Candle . Several early electrical companies made the Iron Candle. Telling them apart is difficult, but there are slight differences, such as switch placement and shape or color of the wooden base that give a clue as to the maker.
In 1906, National Carbon Company, which had supplied Eveready with materials for their batteries, bought a half interest in the company for $200,000. Conrad Hubert remained president and there was little change in the general policies of the company. The name was changed to "The American Ever Ready Company" and the trade name was shortened to one word, the familiar "Eveready". 1906 was also the year of the introduction of the tungsten wire filament to replace carbon filaments in light bulbs. This made bulbs more efficient and brighter than before. Batteries had also improved and new switches began to appear on flashlights that allowed them to stay on for a few minutes. One of these was the "Glove Catch" switch begun in 1903 and phased out by 1911.
1903 to 1905 Vest Pocket Ever Ready flashlights. Note no switch, just a button to flash the light. I named the switch on top "the ramp to the button" style (ca.1903). Note that the battery pack of 2 "B" cells and a shortened "B" cell was made with a well in it to hold the bulb assembly. That idea was short lived.
|Above is a hard-to-find 1908 Baby Ever Ready with a transverse switch in 2 "C" cell size. This was made for less than a year and not many survived.|
In 1911 Eveready began selling an improved battery called the "Tungsten Battery". The battery contained no tungsten, but was so named to ride on the coattails of the popular tungsten filament bulbs.
In 1911 Eveready replaced the push button and glove catch switches with a low profile simple slide switch (so regardless of the date on the bottom plate of the light, any flashlight with a slide switch was made in or after 1911). In 1912 Eveready replaced the low profile switch with a high profile simple slide switch. The new higher profile slide switch was used on both vest pocket and tubular flashlights in 1912. The 1912 switch design was soon replaced by a switch introduced in December, 1912. It combined the slide switch with push button switch. Due to the short production run of only a few years, the earlier switch models are more difficult to find. The switch with the button was used by many flashlight companies.
In 1917 National Carbon Company merged with Union Carbide to form The Union Carbide and Carbon Co. and Eveready began using the name "DAYLO". The logo on the battery cap was changed to read "EVEREADY DAYLO". Daylo was never well accepted. The main reason for the non-acceptance was that only Eveready could use Daylo. The public still used the word "flashlight" and all other flashlight making companies called their products "flashlights". The advertising campaign was a success but the name was a dud. The Daylo name was dropped in 1921.
In 1924 Eveready introduced the "safety lock" switch. This wider and flatter switch, usually held on by 4 rivets, combined the button and slide in a sturdy, quality switch. This switch was used well into the 1930s when it was redesigned it with 3 rivets.
There are so many interesting Eveready flashlights, so take a look at my book for more photos and information. It can be ordered from me for $32.95 postpaid from Stuart Schneider, P.O. Box 64, Teaneck, NJ 07666
If you are seeking unusual New flashlights try my friend, Dae's, site in China. Tell them I sent you and they will treat you right - might even throw in a gift. Email Dae at email@example.com. If you are looking for information on Old flashlights, then email me at stuart@ wordcraft.net
Sterling Silver Flashlights, page 2
Art Deco Purse Lights, page 3
Tin Lithographed Flashlights, page 4
Flippo Cartoon and Personality Lights, page 5
Interesting & Unusual Flashlights, page 6
The Annual Flashlight Conventions
More interesting & Unusual Flashlights, page 7a
Recent Acquisitions, page 8
Flashlights For Sale, page 9
Flashlights For Sale, page 10
Flashlights For Sale, page 11
Flashlights For Sale, page 12