Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Insulator Post -- 2013 Springfield Finds

This year I almost skipped the big insulator show that happens every year in November at Springfield Ohio.  In the end I did decide to go after all.  The show is a bit of a tradition now with this being my fourth year of attendance in row.  As one of the biggest shows in the country I just can't pass up the opportunity of possibly adding some new pieces to my collection.

When I first got into collecting glass insulators I quickly took the sage advice of an experienced collector and specialized my interest in the hobby around the California Glass Insulator Company.  I love the soft pastel colors of the California glass and the interesting history of the company that operated for only four years. (1912-1916)  Now on the eve of 2014 I am certain that the pieces in my California collection are between 98 and 102 years old.  2014 is the 100th anniversary of the reorganization of the small upstart company which occured in 1914.

During a rare sunny day in December I set up in the back yard to photograph my new pieces.  In the above picture are four sage green CD 161 "Signal" Insulators.  These are a relatively common shape and color from CGIC and can be found for around $5 a piece or a bit more for a pristine example.  Note the difference in "Dome Glass" at the top of each insulator.  Dome glass is a term used by collectors to describe the solid glass at the very top of the insulator.  Because CGIC did not adhere to strict quality control measures back in the day the depth of the threaded hole and resultant dome glass can vary widely.

Even though I already have a few of these I couldn't pass up this nice pale purple CD 152.  A common insulator that once probably sat atop a pole along a railroad out west.

Two CD 102 Ponies and a CD 112 "Keg".  These little guys are a bit more rare. They were used on telephone circuits.


For the past couple years I've been looking for a scarce power insulator called a CD 208 "Cross Top"  Although commonly produced in larger numbers by eastern glass houses the California cross tops were made in limited quantities and used on only a few power distribution lines in the west.  These unique insulators got their nickname from the double grooves situated in a cross pattern at the top of the dome.  I'm not sure of the purpose of the double grooves but I suspect the arrangement offered more options to the lineman who secured the heavy power conductors to the insulator with tie wires.  Perhaps two tie wires would  be fixed at 90 degrees to one another providing a very secure attachment of the power line to the tower.


After carousing most of the show floor I settled on a beat up CD 208 that had some cracks, a broken inner skirt and severe wear on the top of the dome.  Normally I don't choose to buy an insulator unless it is very near if not mint condition.  This trade off in my collecting method means I have to be patient and wait for the right piece to come along or else settle for a less than perfect example of the CD I'm looking for.  In this case the desire to have a cross top in my collection won out over my normal modus operandi and besides the price was right on the damaged 208 at ten bucks.

After passing just a few more tables and nearly at the end of the show floor I spotted another cross top and to my amazement this one was in perfect shape.  Of course I had to pay full collector market price for this one but I finally found a winner cross top for my main window display.

Damaged insulator on the left.
Technical note:  For the opening group shot of insulators I used a setting on my Cannon camera called "Vivid".  This setting enhances the color which looks great but is not really a true representation of the colors as they appear.  The remaining pictures on the post were all taken with a normal automatic setting to account for the bright background.  I prefer to photograph glass insulators in direct full sunlight and while this does tend to wash out the look a bit I feel it provides the most accurate color representation of the glass.

1 comment: