Candles were the very first items to be used in lighting, and were protected by an antique lantern from wind and rain that would threaten to blow any normal, unprotected flame out. Antique lanterns were commonly made from brass if used by those living near the sea, as brass resisted both sea salt corrosion and rust. Nobles and those with money could afford to request lanterns that were made out of different, more expensive metals such as silver or steel. The rust and small dents in any antique lantern only add to the stylized charm the antique lantern contains in its simple, compact frame. A buyer can easily discern whether an antique lantern is the true article by the presence of small flaws and stamp marks on the underside that tell of the antique lantern's original smithy that crafted it.
With their great feel of soft, slow, and simple country lifestyles so highly valued in today's pressed-for-time world, antique lanterns are a perfect addition to rooms or homes that value distinct personality in their decorative installments. Antique lanterns of today will mostly be found utilizing gas powered lighting mechanisms that may even be functional when one buys the piece, but one should take care to ask the seller if the light is still functioning. One should take care not to leave bits of oil in the bottom of any antique lantern, because while the lantern will not start on its own, it is still in danger of coming into contact with external fires and creating hazards.
The ancient Chinese were one of the first cultures to employ the art of lantern making by using rice paper and rudimentary wicks made of bamboo or soy. Antique lanterns were also created in the Fertile Crescent by the Mesopotamians, who specialized in weaving fire resistant plant fibers into complex 'roofs' that surrounded a fire source. The last of the extremely ancient lantern types were those used by the Egyptians, who made small papyrus river boats with a single candle on them that usually represented death when set afloat on the Nile river. If one considers the true definition of the word lantern, metal ringed torches were considered lanterns as well.