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Thursday, December 13, 2012

F. Persky & Company- The Beginning of the Perko Story

Full view of the Persky & Co anchor lantern. Today the company is known as PERKO.

The PERKO Story consists of many interesting pieces. They make up a modern day marine hardware success story that goes back over 100 years! This is the first sentence from the Perko story, the history of the famous American marine lighting company as taken from their website. I had known enough about the Perko story to turn to it while researching this recently discoverd lantern and the article was the source that validated it's maker. So, this blog is in part about the Perko companies beginnings and is demonstrated by an example of one of the first marine lanterns produced by this famous marine hardware company.

Name of PERSKY & CO., AJAX , NEW YORK, U.S.A. on hourglass shaped globe.

This early example is of one of their first anchor lanterns produced when the company was created by F. Persky & Company, New York, lantern makers in the early 1900's. The company was in operation for about a dozen years until 1913 when Frederick became president of National Marine Lamp Company. This Company name was established prior to Frederick Persky changing his last name to Perkins! (See history below).

Side-open view of the Persky lantern.

This unique lantern was manufactured using galvanized metal with brass chimney cap and 'Christmas tree' vents and ring handle and two tie-down rings on each side and five vertical wire guards. Fixed 'hourglass' shaped molded colorless globe with embossed letters stating "PERSKY & CO. AJAX. NEW YORK, U.S.A.". According to a PERKO representative, they believe that the name 'AJAX' was the name of the company that produced the glass globe. Measures 10 3/4" tall, exclusive of the ring bail handle, 4 1/4 inches diameter of base. Slight scaling on exterior of the metal surface, but overall, this lantern survives in good original condition. Missing burner.

Top section and brass chimney cap of Persky & Co. anchor lantern.

History (The Perko Story)

The story starts with Frederick Persky, who later became known as Frederick Perkins. He was a Russian immigrant who was schooled in Germany as a machinist and tool-and-die maker. Frederick came to the United States in the early 1890's and soon became employed as a machinist for E.W. Bliss & Company in Brooklyn, New York. In the early 1900's, he and a partner began operating a business, F. Persky & Company, Lantern Manufacturer, out of the basement of his house.

In 1907, Frederick's son Louis joined him in the business, and together they enlarged both the product line and the manufacturing facilities. By 1912, they had seventeen employees and made a wide range of marine lanterns and products.

The business continued operating until 1913 when Frederick became president of National Marine Lamp Company, based out of Forestville, Connecticut. Frederick and Louis left that company in 1916 and moved back to Brooklyn, New York, where they started Perkins Marine Lamp Corporation.

Anchor lantern manufactured by the National Marine Lamp Co., Forestville, Ct.

Five generations later, PERKO is still a privately owned, family operated corporation, which is unusual in today's marketplace. Perkins Marine Corporation was initially known as Perkins Marine Lamp, Inc. The original focus was on the manufacture of hand formed sheet metal products for the marine market. The first catalog was published in 1916, with a product line as diverse for its time as PERKO's catalog is today.

Anchor lantern manufactured by Perkins Marine Lamp Co.,  Brooklyn, New York

It included a full range of kerosene and electric lanterns for small and large boats, ventilators, chart cases, signaling devices, mooring buoys, pumps and a variety of spare parts. These products, fabricated from brass, copper and galvanized sheet metal, began what was our ongoing reputation for producing high quality products. We still do some hand forming and soldering today, much as it was done in our early years.
In 1922, the "PERKO" trademark was instituted. Each new product (and there were many) utilized the latest, sophisticated metal manufacturing technology and customers came to expect the highest standard of excellence from PERKO products.

Two other examples, one identical to the one in this blog, the other manufactured in brass was in the Phillip Sullivan Collection of Lanterns, recently auctioned off by the Jeffry S. Evan & Associates, Mt. Crawford, Virginia.

The Persky & Co. AJAX anchor lantern is currently available at Skipjack Nautical Wares & Marine Gallery. Follow the link above to the product listing on their webstore.


  1. What an amazing story - it is great to see a family owned company evolve over the years and still be trading.

  2. thank you

  3. Really cool post, thanks for sharing

  4. Hi,
    Wow, love the photos and the story. Especially "This unique lantern was manufactured using galvanized metal with brass chimney cap and 'Christmas tree' vents " , makes me want some for next year's Christmas decorating. Keep up the good blog work!

  5. Very interesting! I love the history in this post.

  6. Informative. Interesting. Your blog is just amazing!

  7. Wow..amazing really I like it thank you my friend.

  8. such a unique and interesting post!!

  9. Congrats on becoming a Blog of Note! It's quite a wild ride!

    Otherwise, I'm happy to run across your blog. I've started making a nautical themed room in one of the spare rooms of my house. I think a lot of things on your blog will come in handy.

    If you want to have a look at mine, come <a href=">check me out</a>

  10. Looks like the lantern of Hagrid (Harry Potter) :) Love this Lamp.

  11. Such a great idea! I've been implementing these ideas lately too and its amazing how something so simple is so helpful!I

  12. Ooohhh This is awesome...

    I love it

  13. awesome, very interesting post, Your blog is just amazing!

  14. interesting photo and perfect read

  15. Great story and amazing lamps :)
    Thank you! //Olg@

  16. Very interesting post, Great Blog !

  17. nice post, It's great you are the best


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