Carriage lamps or lanterns add the feeling of an earlier time to a home.

These sturdy lanterns were originally used on road coaches and carriages of the 18th and 19th centuries to provide safety and illumination, just as car headlights do today.Early carriage lamps were illuminated by lighted candles. The lamps of a road coach always stayed in place whether lighted or not. Some coaches were equipped with five lamps: one at the foot-board for boarding and disembarking and two on each side of the coach.

A red lamp also was hung below the boot to the rear of the coach for driving on roads at night anywhere there was motor traffic. Some lamps featured only a round piece of red glass centered in the pane of clear glass.

In later years carriage lamps that were used for house decoration were illuminated with oil or gas. Today they are all electrified.

If you aren't fortunate enough to find an antique set of lanterns to wire, there are many new models in electrical stores to choose from.

Today's carriage lamps or lanterns for the home come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Depending on the decor and period of your home, finishes include polished brass, antique brass, glossy black, brown or white enamel and verdigris (antique green patina, such as aged copper).

In addition to brass, new lamps are constructed of either cast aluminum, which doesn't tarnish, or aluminum, which will pit and rust.

Pole lamps are an easy way to illuminate a dark corner on your property, such as a garden area with a bench or attractive shrubs or trees. However, they are more commonly used to define the entrance to a walk or driveway.

The light bulb for a carriage lamp is usually not as bright as ones used for a spotlight or at the rear or main entrance of your home. They are usually 25 to 100 watts.

Bulb styles vary, from a traditional-shaped bulb to a flame-shaped bulb that is either frosted or clear with a filament that flickers like a flame.

It's good to vary the wattage of various exterior lighting fixtures to create different moods, from functional to romantic ambience.

Wall-mounted carriage lamps start at approximately $50 for a 13 1/2-inch-by-6-inch size to $150 for a large 25-inch-by-8 1/2-inch post carriage lamp.