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Coleman Lantern Identification and Dating

Lantern ID *Does not cover Canadian Coleman products yet!**

Here's a subject that is usually easy. Usually. Figuring out which lantern you have is often no more difficult than reading the frame rest. The frame rest is that band right above the lantern's fount and most lanterns since the 1930s have their model designation stamped there.

Dating your lantern can be a little harder. But first let's cover the different models.

If your lantern is newer that the mid 1930s you probably won't need to read this part. With the exception of some 220C/228C lanterns (1945-ish vintage)model numbers are clearly marked on the frame rest.

Prior to that, however, there are numerous lanterns without model ID stamped on the frame rest. Rather than building a flow-chart it will probably be easy to point you in the right direction to figure out what you have.

Simply, that right direction is our virtual museum. The most important thing you need to start with is the number of mantles on your lantern. If you have a 2-mantle lantern please refer to the When you think of Coleman to find a match. If you have only one mantle then refer to the A Little Piece of History portion of the museum. Collector and researcher Terry Marsh has a fantastic website to ID your lantern also.

If you still can't figure out what you have, then contact us. Please give as many details as you can and we'll try to figure it out with you.

Lantern Dating

On to dating your lantern. Most Coleman lantern are date stamped. Look on the very bottom of the fount for some numbers. If not there, you may find them stamped on the side of the fount. Figures 1 through 3 show the two different locations:
Side of fount stamp on a 220 lantern indicating September of 1928.
Bottom of fount stamp on a 242C lantern indicating April of 1947.
Bottom of fount stamp on an 200A lantern indicating October of 1966.

That is where you find the numbers. But, sometimes the numbers will mean nothing unless you know what you're looking at!

Prior to about 1948 Coleman used a numbering system which had one number on the left, the last digit of the year, and a number on the right which was the month. Easy enough. So a stamp of "5 5" means May of 1935, right? Not always...

The obvious problem is which decade does it falls into. To figure this out you'll need that number on the left and a model number. Once you have both of these numbers you can go to the International Coleman Collector's Club website Technical Information at www.colemancollectors.com There is a chart shown there that will give you the spread of years that your lantern was made. Click here to go to the club website.

Since around 1948 they've been pretty easy to date. You'll clearly find the code on the bottom, as before, but the number on the left will be the month and the 2-digit code on the right will be the year. So now a code of "5 51" obviously means May of 1951.

Many other Coleman items have been dated since the 1960s too. Sometimes you have to look hard but they often will have a month-year mark. Coolers and lantern cases often have the imprint on the bottom. Stoves have them on the bottom occasionally (newer stoves mostly) but often you'll be able to find numbers on the inside of the tank's mounting flaps. Even if not dated, that chart at the ICCC website will give you a good idea of when your Coleman was made.

If you're still stumped you can send us an email for additional assistance.

A little disclaimer here... Some lanterns are not stamped and they should be. Some are stamped in places where they shouldn't be. I sold a 202 lantern that was stamped on the side AND the bottom of the fount with different months of 1958. The words "never" and "always" are hard to use in this hobby.

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Technical content provided primarily by Frank Bebb unless otherwise noted