Humble Contributions to the Peoples' History

Posts tagged ‘insulators’

Chincoteague Treaures

Snowy Egret w/ Showy Shoes

Spending just a day on Chincoteague Island, we were rewarded with a serendipitous experience. Chincoteague, on the eastern shore of the Del Mar Peninsula, is best known for the wild ponies, whose ancestors survived a wreck of a Spanish Galleon, or one of the legends would have us believe. Turned out the egrets carried the day.

On turning down the historic Main Street, a large yellow and colorfully decorated building surrounded by flowers and artifacts, came into view, so we immediately turned into the parking lot. “Chincoteague Treasures” became the first stop on our island tour. Inside a variety of antiques and memorabilia filled the building. We compared the items with things that we owned, and stuff we regretting giving away upon discovering the prices on such items. Old toys, books, glassware, tools and clocks lined the shelves, and a good selection of chairs and other furniture occupied the center section. A vintage candy machine, harking back to a former area, stood next to the wall. A small mental stove reminded me of my childhood toys. We sifted through several boxes of record albums and found a John Lennon/Yoko Ono Double Fantasy cover that we liked.

On one the shelves, I came across three blue and green colored insulators with a tag of $35 on one of them. After writing a blog post here on the subject of insulators and becoming fascinated by their history and esthetic appeal, I knew it was time to get out my cash. My sister and I picked one of each, and we asked if all were $35 or just one. The proprietor, Harry Katsetos, replied they were $35 each but made us an offer of two for $25, which I immediately agreed on. We spoke with Maria, Harry’s wife, about their store and how much we liked it. I told her I was going to take a photograph of the storefront to include on my blog.  She agreed to pose out front, and Harry  joined us for more pictures and conversation. On the subject of computers, Maria said they were not yet connected to the Internet but had to plans to hire a student to help with a web page.

Then as a total surprise, Harry presented my sister and me with two of his creations, hand-made egrets mounted on cedar platforms.

We certainly discovered treasures at Chincoteague Island, and they didn’t fall off a Spanish Galleon.

Nostalgic Memorabilia: Glass Insulators on Telephone Poles

So what is so interesting about telephone pole insulators?

Glass insulators still sit atop a telephone pole, Richmond, VA

My curiosity about insulators started before I even knew what they were. A friend of my son’s stayed at his home for a few days and left a glass, lantern-like object in appreciation for hospitality. A neat little piece, the glass cylinder found a permanent display place in John and Jim’s living room.

This summer we drove down to the Outer Banks, and on the way we stopped at one of my favorite antique shops, The Peck Basket, which resembles an old-fashioned general store.

On one of the shelves I came across a similar lantern and asked what it was. The proprietor informed me that the object was an insulator, one of those glassy objects that sit atop cross arms of telephone poles. Someone had given her an entire box of them.  During slow periods in the store, she washes them up, and then sells them on Ebay, sometimes for $40 each.

I can’t ever remember paying any attention at all to telephone poles, but for some reason I could recollect that there were in fact glass cylinders that held the wires. After some research, I read that without insulators, electricity could leak into the pole. I also discovered that these little class cylinders are quite collectible. During the 1960s the electric companies began replacing the poles and moving wires underground and insulators were just thrown out. Folks realized that these discarded objects were quite beautiful, ranging in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes.  The colored glass sparkles when placed in a sunlit window.

On the web several insulator clubs share information and hold local and national shows. Books and magazines describe insulator history as well as their prices, which range anywhere from a few dollars to $20,000! If you get interested, find an informative web page here, Stories of a Northwest Insulator Nut, set up by a dedicated collector.

So if you are looking for a “Hemingray-9, CD 106”, used in rural telephone systems, you’ll be able to find it.

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