Authentic or replica ship light

Nowadays, many ship lights are found online. Many are authentic, but many young and mid-20th-century replicas are found between them.
Some of these "old" ship lamps and lanterns are offered as new on Chinese websites.

Unfortunately, the information sellers provide is often inaccurate. Usually due to ignorance.

Photos only sometimes allow you to distinguish an original from a replica. In this article, I'll provide tips that will help you determine the real from the "fake."

What Is Authentic And What Is A Replica?

Sometimes it takes real effort to distinguish the real from the fake. There have also been several manufacturers who have produced authentic ship lamps but sold the same lights, sometimes with minor adjustments, as decorative ship lamps. These are the hardest to spot. But sometimes, it doesn't matter; they will be just as atmospheric regarding the cosmetic value. These lamps are commonly from the 1960s and 1970s.

Two example manufacturers producing both authentic and decorative ship lamps are Den Haan Rotterdam from the Netherlands and William Harvie from England

Determine The Ship Light's State

One of the few reasons that may state doubt is when a ship light is in a condition too good to be true. Of course, it can be a new-old-stock. However, there is a good chance that it is a replica. Ship lights that have hung outside a ship will always show traces, thanks to the ravages of weather and time. Ship lamps hung inside will usually also have minor signs of use.

Online Research

This tip might be pretty straightforward, but an excellent online research method is called Google. If brands are mentioned on the lamp, please give it a search on Google. If this lamp is often in circulation, in (too) good condition, there is a greater chance that it is a replica. The Google Lens app also offers an excellent solution for searching for similar images if there is nothing on it.

Check The Date

I regularly see ship lanterns with a dated plate on them—for example, a year. This should immediately cause doubt, as it is often a replica if you see this. If it contains a date, it is usually stamped to create the expectation that it is old.

As a rule of thumb, only certification numbers were stamped in ship lamps. From the 1960s, various brands such as Nippon and Industria Rotterdam added a production year.

Auction Sites And eBay

Do not rely blind on the information provided on auction sites such as Catawiki or sites such as eBay or Etsy. Information is often googled, and incorrect information is blindly copied.


Although some lamps are replicas, they often look beautiful in the interior or for other purposes, but the value is undoubtedly also determined by the authenticity. When in doubt, it is often wise to always (extra) check. Ask questions about the origin, and check the brand or the placard that can be found on the ship's lamp. Some replicas change owners without any owner realizing that it is a replica!
As a last resort, you can always consult an expert. I would be happy to help you with this; let me know via the contact form

Replica Examples

Clipper Ship Lamp No 1255 Dumbarton, Scotland 1869

Cargo Light NO.3954 Great Britain 1939

Binacle Lamp 1917

Anchor Light No. 1235 Great Britain 1919

A case study – A lamp from the ¨Holland America Line¨

To show you how smart some sellers can be at selling replica lamps. Let me allow you to take you with me in the following example. On the lantern on the right you see the following text:

Holland Amerika Lijn
SS Nieuw Amsterdam
1st Class Only

The seller informed me this was given as a gift to the first 1st class passengers of the SS Nieuw Amsterdam after the launch. This was also advertised in an advertisement on Catawiki.

Presumably, this was the seller's source. I had doubts about this, so I contacted the HAL (Holland America Line), who referred me to the De Lijn association. This association told me that this lantern does not come from the HAL and that the HAL has never given away or sold a brass gift or souvenir. They indicated that there was/is a handy boy who places this copper plate on many different products.