Here is some great news for traditional campers. W. T. Kirkman Lanterns, Inc. is now stocking a NEW production Dietz Comet lantern! If you’ve read my post on types of kerosene lanterns, you know that the Comet is my favorite of all time. It was the official kerosene lantern of the Boy Scouts of America from the early post WWII period up through the 1960’s. With an overall height of just 8 1/2 inches and a base diameter of 4 1/2 inches, the Comet is the smallest cold blast kerosene lantern ever produced by Dietz.
I discovered that the Comet was listed in the 2013 Dietz product catalog but I could not find them for sale in North America. I figured that Woody Kirkman would eventually stock the new Comet. In July of last year, a reader, Terry, commented that Kirkman’s was again selling the Comet in addition to recommending that anyone interested also purchase the Kirkman replacement globe for the Comet as it was much better than the standard Dietz globe.
These new Comet lanterns are delivered with a holographic sticker emblazoned with the Dietz logo, something not seen on previous Comets.
The really exciting news is that Kirkman’s is offering a tin plated version of the Comet (along with painted versions). The tin plated model has not been offered since before WWII and is historically correct for a pre-war Comet. The painted lanterns retail for $10.95 and the deluxe tin plated version sells for just $5.00 more.
Though I’m thrilled to see these lanterns available again, in my opinion, the quality of the product has declined over those sold just a few years ago. For one thing, the globes now offered are not as finely molded nor of the same thickness as the previous version.
Luckily, Kirkman’s offers a heavy glass replacement globe for the Comet lantern that is very nice (though it still does not approach the quality of the original). If you purchase a new Comet lantern, do yourself a favor and buy a Kirkman’s replacement globe at the same time. The difference in globe quality is amazing!
Unfortunately, I have other complaints as well. The red painted lantern I received was delivered with several paint chips. I’ve seen little used vintage Comet lanterns over 50 years old that had fewer paint chips than the new Comet I received last week. While the paint chips are small, it is disappointing to see a chipped finish on a lantern that has not seen a single day of use.
Here is a new Comet compared to one sold just a few years ago:
I know it sounds like I am seriously unhappy with the new Comet but I’m not. Even with my complaints, I would not pass up buying one. For one thing, it’s a brand new Dietz Comet! For another, even original Dietz hurricane lanterns were utility barn lanterns. Those with painted finishes easily chipped in use and all but brass finish models quickly rusted if exposed to moisture. If you use a kerosene lantern with a painted finish, it will get marred and if you use a tin plated lantern, it will rust if not protected. As soon as I restore or purchase one of these lanterns, I give it a good coat of car wax. Everything is waxed – bail, burner, cap, globe wires, chimney (inside and out) and lantern body. I also wax the plated lanterns. If you keep your lantern waxed regularly, it will never rust.
For traditional camping, these new Comet lanterns are just the ticket! The beautiful tin plated model is a near perfect late 1930’s lantern while the red painted model looks just like much like the Comet of the ’50’s that was adopted as the “Official” lantern of the Boy Scouts of America. You can’t get more traditional than that!