are one collectible you can actually use. Most take standard batteries
and use standard bulbs still commonly available.
All of mine are in as-found condition. This is not for
any other reason than lack of time. I’ve seen some of these brass ones
all stripped of paint and polished to a high gloss. They look great,
but I suppose if there are purists in the flashlight collecting hobby
they might object.
The name "flashlight" was given to these little personal
lights because in the early days batteries were so short-lived that
users of these lights left them off most of the time, only "flashing"
them on once in a while.
Special favorites include the Eveready "Electric Candle"
above which comes on automatically when lifted. Also the streamline
moderne models below with their rocket ship styling. For some reason
the Ray-O-Vac copper & red
model at right is the one I use on a
regular basis. It’s one of the few that actually worked when I found
it, and it still does, giving a particularly nice, focused beam.
DETAILS / Top
picture: (standing from left to right) Eveready (c.1920, USA)
with domed lens, about 7 inches long; Lightmaster(c.1930s,
USA) looks like brass; Homart
(c.1930s, USA); Eveready “Electric
No. 1654” (c.1930, USA) has glow-in-the-dark
radium dots on lower strip; Winchester
in black & copper is about 8
inches tall (c.1940, USA); Eveready
in black & chrome is a flat
lens update of the domed lens model at far left (c.1940s, USA). Lying down:
Unmarked (c.1940s, USA) , Ray-O-Vac
chrome penlite (c.1950s, USA) is
5-1/2 inches long; Unmarked (c.1960, USA), chrome and plastic. Middle
picture (standing from
left to right): Eveready
plastic (c.1970, USA) is 7-3/4 inches; Ray-O-Vac
metal with red plastic bezel and trim
(c.1968, USA); AFC with push
switch on end is all-plastic (c.1975, Hong
Kong); All-plastic Eveready
push-botton (c.1970, USA); In front,
lying down: A
pair of Gulton rechargeable “Life Lite” flashlights. On the left
5-inch long “Super 200" and on
the right the “Galaxy.” These
and plug directly into wall socket for charging.
Lower picture (standing
right): usalite “Red-Head Jr. Motorists Safety
Flashlight” measures 6-3/4
inches; Reliance (c.1960, “Empire Made”—this most likely
British-designed item made in Hong Kong), a cheapie but with an
adjustable beam; Unbranded (c.1955, USA); the brushed aluminum Homart
is a beautiful streamline moderne flashlight with flood/spot beam
switch, 8 inches long (c.1950, USA); The nearly identical Lightmaster
Deluxe. In front, lying down left to
Aluminum keychain flashlight/whistle, unbranded (c.1960s, USA); Eveready penlite (c.1970,
USA); Tom Thumb (Fulton Co.
3-1/8 inches; Winchester
(c.1960, USA) chrome with translucent plastic
bezel; Eveready penlite with
box (c.1970, USA); This one says “Hughes
Co., Ground Systems Group” and also says “Surtass” (c.1980,
USA)—a genuine aerospace engineer’s penlite right out of a pocket