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Lantern semantics

Forum to discuss all areas of lighthouse technology such as optics, fuels, fog signals, radiobeacons, daymarks, construction, etc.

Postby island » Thu May 05, 2005 11:56 am


Brent,

I did not include the portable option in the definitions posted above. Some lanterns are portable such as a post lantern or Coleman lantern. Some are not such as light-house lanterns with the exception of when the entire light-house is been moved or the lantern relocated to a new tower or for display such as the lantern at Chatham. Not to forget also, replica lanterns such as the Minot replica in the park at Cohasset, Mass.

The 1950 Aids to Navigation Manual Glossary of Terms, adapted from the Light-House Service, defines lantern as:

"The glassed in enclosure on the top of an attended lighthouse which surrounds and protects the lens. Also the inclosure for the illuminating apparatus for buoys and minor lights. Sometimes the entire piece of the illuminating apparatus is referred to as the lantern."

One way to resolve this is to defer to the person on Light-housing.net who has had the longest direct association with light-houses.

(note the hypens above which open the door to further lighlt-house semantics discussions. :) ).

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Postby island » Thu May 05, 2005 12:17 pm


And not to forget--Mike asked.
is it an optic, a lamp or a lens(or is the lamp within the lens taken together the optic)


Again we return to the AToN "stone tablets",

Optic: A device which projects a light beam of intensity greater than the light source.

Optics: The science of the generation , propagation and utilization of light.

Optical System: The assembled functional parts of an optic.

I guess this makes optic the lens.
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Postby Keeper » Thu May 05, 2005 12:19 pm


For what it's worth, I've always instinctively made a fine distinction between the terms "lantern" and "lantern room." If I'm writing about a lighthouse, I'll say, "A new lantern was installed in 1891," meaning the entire glassed-in enclosure at the top of the lighthouse. If I'm pointing out things as I stand outside a lighthouse, or looking at a photo of a lighthouse, I'll also call it the lantern.

But if I'm inside the lighthouse, or if I'm writing about someone inside the lantern, I'm likely to refer to it as the lantern room. For instance, I might say to someone, "Can you run up to the lantern room and get me that screwdriver?" It just feels more natural than, "Can you run up to the lantern. . ."

For another example, if I was writing about a keeper, I might write, "Keeper Joe Shmo ran swiftly up the iron stairs to the lantern room." But I would write, "Several ducks smashed into the lantern, damaging the glass."

This is in keeping with Woody's assertion that the lantern room is the space within the lantern.
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Postby island » Thu May 05, 2005 1:23 pm


For what it is worth, my grandfather and others of his lighthouse service era did not use either term; lantern or lantern room. To him and to them it was "up in the light".
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Postby epona » Thu May 05, 2005 1:28 pm


Maybe I am totally off the beam here. After reading the posting from all of you who have so much knowledge about this topic postings. I got to thinking somethings. So forgive me ahead of time for what I am about to write and ask.

Does anyone know what terms where used in private letters or diaries that people who worked at lighthouses used. From what I am reading, certain terms where used in an official manner. Maybe different words, terms got used in the normal work day? How did people refer to the different parts of a lighthouse. Also did the words and terms differ in different parts of the U.S. What terms got used in other countries, like England, Scotland and so forth. Just some thoughts I had.

So, you experts what do you think?
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Postby Optics » Thu May 05, 2005 4:28 pm


I guess I prefer to stay on the outside of this discussion of semantics, except for one additional point. Most of the rest of the world refer to the thing within the lantern, that is inside the lantern room space, as the optic. It is not called a lens, although it usually includes one, because it also includes some method of producing light and possibly rotation - and thus the combination forms the optic.
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Postby Terry_Pepper » Thu May 05, 2005 4:38 pm


Thank you all for your considered input.

I believe that the definition of "lantern" in referring to the exterior, and the structure in general, and "lantern room" in reference to the space within same works well for me.

Regarding epona's somewhat expansive question on the names used for different lighthouse components, as forum moderator, I would like to suggest that anyone responding do so under a new topic with a name such as "lighthouse terminology" in order to keep topic contents organized.
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Postby beachbum1616 » Thu May 05, 2005 6:39 pm


What a great topic. I usually refer to the whole thing as the lantern room but after this topic, it seems reasonable to refer to the lantern room as the space inside the lantern at the top of the lighthouse as Paul and Jim pointed out.

That is the way it makes sence in my mind anyway.
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Postby Terry_Pepper » Thu May 05, 2005 7:58 pm


The English language is durable precisely because it adapts to meet the changing needs of time.

In theses days of political correctness, history is being rewritten in our schools to fit the mold of social change, and the words “birthparent , teensploitation, slam-dunk , and wellness (among 16,000 more) new words have been added to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language over the past ten years.

I also see an increasing propensity for the general public to accept the written word as gospel, regardless of the accuracy of the underlying research, or the integrity of the author. For example, I can't tell you how many sources I found reporting that the Fourth Order lens from Chambers Island was in Warp’s Pioneer Museum in Minden, Nebraska, until with Al Gademsky's help, we proved this to be categorically incorrect.

Regardless, I feel strongly that the very words used in history are themselves an integral part of the fabric of history itself.

Many of us who post in this forum dedicate a huge part of our lives to historical research and writing, and just as Brent quoted Francis Ross Holland in his post, on a day not too distant, people will quote Tom, Woody, Jeremy, myself and others who post here as authoritative sources. (If I may be so bold as to include myself among their ranks)

As such, I believe that if we are not precise in the terms we use in our writing we may end up contributing inadvertently to the loss of an important part of the very history we are trying so carefully and lovingly to preserve.

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Postby island » Fri May 06, 2005 7:15 am


From my perspective I would encourage as an integral part of lighthouse preservation the preservation of the language and terminology of lighthouses and of the lighthouse service.

Specific to the topic of this discussion the lantern is a unique part of a lighthouse. I have a problem with the term Lantern Room because it leads those who are less aware and less knowlegable to visualize this as a room that contains the lantern. With this picture in mind, then what is the lantern?

I have seen the results of this on a couple of web sites, one of which was an aid for teaching children about lighthouses, and in some newspaper articles where the Fresnel lens was called a lantern. Logically it would be because it was housed in the lantern room. When I see these occurrences or similar my reaction is ](*,).

English is a living language. New words and phrases are added continually. On the other side of the coin, the meaning of existing words change through misusage. This is a significant challenge in the interpretation of past history.
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Postby Fred » Sat May 07, 2005 3:53 pm


From Chance Brothers
A few notes on Modern Lighthouse Practise - 1910

The “Lantern” consists of the ventilating pedestal
plates, glazing, roof and ventilator, and forms a
chamber for protecting the Optical Apparatus.

“Lantern-Pedestal” or “Murette.”—The portion
of the lantern below the glazing, consisting of the
ventilating pedestal plates.

Looking at a tender for Douglas Head lighthouse in 1892
Lantern and Parapet
Dioptric Apparatus
Machine Revolving Carriage,Lamps,etc.

Incidently in the Scottish Lights we always referred to the inside as the "Lightroom" rather than Lantern room (ie the space that contained the lighting apparatus and associated equipment) ,in some of the old General Orders was things like Joe Bloggs Assistant Lightkeeper fell asleep in the lightroom and allowed the light to go out and was dismissed from the service
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