Around the 1880's or so, interchangeable lantern globes became popular, and globes evolved to a rough standard of 5 3/8" -- the "tall" globe style.
Today, railroadiana collectors focus on a handful of key globe characteristics: size, shape, markings, color, double-colors (separate page), type of globe base, and manufacturer. For most lanterns, the globe size is the distinguishing characteristic, particularly in differentiating "tall globe" lanterns (globes 5 3/8" to 6" high) from "short globe" lanterns (globes 3 and 1/2" high).
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In them, the kerosene vapor mixed with air, in proper ratio, composes the burning mixture.
In one romanticized 19th-century story, for example, a 15-year-old girl named Kate Shelley saved the Fast Atlantic Express from a broken bridge by alerting a station agent, whose lantern signal to the train averted disaster.
In the most basic sense, railroad lanterns have four components: a base, a wire guard (or cage), a chimney, and a glass globe housing the light source.