Nagel Chase letterhead dated 1918
Nagel Chase dates back to around 1908, when the company was started in Chicago, Illinois, in all probability by German settlers from the previous century, or their decendants. There is some suggestion that Nagel Chase were operational some 5 years earlier, possibly using a different name. Their light engineering products included lighting components and machinery, and names such as Dreadnaught, Wizard and Quicklit were known around the USA. Nagel Chase still exists, and is probably most well known today for it's V pulleys.
The company president was Theodore Nagel, who gave his initials to a high temperature steel alloy called Thena metal, much note of which was made in early advertisments, but whose properties now seem to have been lost in the vaults of time. (Thena Smith was Florence Nightingale's cousin, but it's not likely there is any association!). By the time Nagel Chase were prominent in the lighting business the other half of the company name, Guy M. Chase, was company secretary and A. G. Radomski was company sales manager. Like most other large American manufacturers at that time, Nagel Chase used agencies as sales outlets throughout the USA, offering big discounts off the listed prices.
Between 1910 and 1920 their products included hollow wire and individual gravity and pressure lighting, indoor and outdoor, with a comprehensive repair section as well as the large engineering manufacturing works. Like most of the other contempory lighting manufacturers, Nagel Chase claimed their lighting products to be the finest ever produced - a claim that was to be commercially demolished by the likes of Coleman and AGM. However, Nagel Chase products were quite advanced for the time, and the fact that a significant number survive in operational condition today is testiment in a small degree at least to the company's engineering proficiency.
By 1920, the factory and laboratories occupied a large four storey block in East Erie Street, Chicago, and Nagel Chase Manf produced portable lighting equipment for other agencies as well as for sale under their own name. Lamps were easily maintained, and were easily converted between gasoline and kerosene. The range included outdoor lanterns, indoor table lamps, wall lamps and hanging chandelier lamps. Also in the range was a series of three and four mantle outdoor donut style lamps.
The Nagel Chase Manufacturing Plant, Chicago, 1920s
It was claimed that the founts could stand 200 psi pressure, and it is true to say that some of the lighting products do feel heavy enough to substantiate this claim, although it would be unwise to attempt to test it at home today.
Early Nagel Chase lanterns were distinctive for the relatively tall chimney type cowl. These lanterns were for use indoors or outside, and were fueled by kerosene or gasoline. The model 4 was for kerosene, and was equipped with a tip cleaning needle and a mica globe. Model 5 "Quicklit" was similar, but for use with gasoline. Both were single mantle lanterns with a claimed light of 300 cp. They were both available from around 1910, and were forerunners of a range of similar lanterns.
Model 4 kerosene (left) and model 5 gasoline lanterns 1910
These lanterns were market leaders of the day, with an effective tip cleaning needle rarely found in lantern design. This early tip cleaner was somewhat problematic since it operated vertically, and if the seal were not perfect fuel would drip onto the users fingers. Later design used a lever system to get over this problem.
Nagel Chase badged as Favorite, from India. (1920s)
Also in the range were table lamps, for indoor use only, and it is known that models 2 and 3 date from around 1910, remaining in production for at least 10 years. Again rated at 300cp, these lamps were available with diferent shades, and for kerosene or gasoline.
Model 2c table lamp (kerosene) and on the right, model 3a for gasoline (1918)
As well as a large number of hollow wire lighting devices, Nagel Chase produced a significant number of individual indoor and outdoor "arc" lights and boulevard lamps. Model 100 was a large 4 mantle do-nut style lamp with a claimed output of 1200 cp
L to R are 3 outdoor inverted arcs, the 3 mantle model 101, 2 mantle 103 and the single mantle 200.
Wizard Model 14
Nagel Chase sold lighting products under their own name through agencies across the USA, through Montgomery Ward, and exported badged products to other counries, for example Frandale of Manchester, UK and Poy Bros of Bombay India. There is also a suggestion that NC lanterns were also made in Australia to a slightly different specification. (possibly the Wizard Lighting Systems, Sydney)
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