The Diamond brand name used by the Akron Lamp & Manufacturing Company was characterised, not surprisingly, by the diamond symbol as a logo. The company manufactured liquid fuel pressure devices from the turn of the century up to 1949, when trading ceased. Their products included irons, heating devices, cooking stoves and lamps and lanterns. Early lanterns used mica shields, as did other manufacturers, but glass chimneys were used later. Both kerosene and gasoline lanterns were produced, with a range of generators developed over the years, with a convention of using square jets for kerosene.
The first factory 1898, and company founder and president J. Steese
J.C. Steese set up the company in 1898, in a single room in Akron, Ohio, employing three men to make up to eight lamps per day. The Akron Lamp Co. later changed it's name to the Akron Lamp & Mfg. Co. and by 1935 there were several hundred employees making 200,000 lamps, lanterns, stoves and irons per year. "Each and every customer must be satisfied" was the watchword adopted by Steese right from the start, and the company claimed their workers were "happy in their different capacities" working in spacious and congenial surroundings. This advert is from the magazine "Popular mechancis" dated 1919. As well as being an advertisement for lamps (model 92) and lanterns (style A) the advertisement offered work for sales agents.
By 1935 the comapny had expanded a thousand fold, and occupied a large corner block between 592 and 606 South High Street, Akron.
S. High Street, Akron, Ohio. 1935 - artistic impression!
The company made claim to "Quality Products" and offered a 30 day no-risk trial. The manufacturing capacity was large enough to qualify them as suppliers to some of the larger catalogue houses, including Montgomery-Wards and Sears-Roebuck. In their time they were major suppliers, and there is a suggestion that they might have used agents in the UK. This is only tentative, and I have no real evidence that they did so.
The company headquarters and factory was located at High Street, Akron, Ohio, USA. Models it produced include table lamps 92, 120A, 120B, 121, 125, 140A, 140B, 150, and 155, and lanterns 103, 131, 132, 132A, 134, and 301. The model 134 lantern, a massively heavy lantern with carburetta type generator, was marketed through Montgomery Ward as the 24A, shown on the right
In 1935 or thereabouts the 2 mantle 132 A was described as a "new kind of wickless lantern - never before a lantern like the new type Diamond". Note the square valve wheel, and the mica globe with sliding door. Perhaps this is an allusion to the message from Akron President Steese to his salesmen, "It is our earnest desire that you get the squarest kind of square deals".
The pictures show models 125, 140 A and B, 301 and 132A (Bottom)
The sales pitch continues with "Cuts through the darkness like a searchlight, the nearest approach to daylight ever provided by any lantern - powerful, penetrating, yet soft and easy on the eyes". Anyone who has looked directly at one of these types of lantern might disagree with that final claim!
Akron Diamond De Luxe Lamp, model 150
Like many other manufacturers, Akron produced an ornamental lamp in an attempt to bridge the gap between functionality and decor. The model 150 had a pottery base finished in "rich green" with a parchment shade in green and gold. Topping the shade is a finial ornament of "rare beauty", all for $9-85. Fuel was either gasoline or kerosene.
One of the more elaborate stand lamps made by Akron was the "Moderne" type 155, which was clearly an atempt to move away from the rather bland but functional style that had dominated all table lamp designs since the 1920s. The Moderne, like other Akron lamps, could be used with gasoline or kerosene, but required a specific generator for each fuel. Akron gasoline generators normally had an oval tip, and kerosene generators had a square tip. This is an important feature that helps with identifying which fuel an Akron lamp uses.
Early version of the 155 "Moderne" Lamp, and below, the parts list
Most manufacturers produced coloured globes or chimneys at some time in their history. These were more expensive, and so not many people would buy them. Consequently, coloured glass globes are popular with collectors, and just so is the Akron Se-Ray globe.
1935 advertisement for the new glass globe
It is reported that Akron ceased trading in 1949, although some of their publications have what appear to be date codes for the 1950s. Included in the products made by Akron are lamps, lanterns, room heaters, domestic irons, water heaters and kitchen ranges. Very many Akron lamps and lanterns change owners among collectors groups, and on eBay, and because of their numbers the lanterns are not especially valuable. However, the original box and owners instructions are quite rare.
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