On Saturday I attended the 42nd Mid-Ohio Insulator Show held as it is every year in Springfield, Ohio near Dayton. Over the past four years this show has become the highlight of my insulator collecting hobby and I look forward more than ever to making the 100 mile pilgrimage.
The Mid-Ohio show is considered by many to be the greatest collection of insulators gathered together in one spot in all of the world. I've only ever been to the Mid-Ohio show so I really can't say myself but to best this show it would have to be an event of ridiculous proportions.
I've covered previous trips to Springfield here on the blog but this year I tried to find some other interesting pieces that I've not documented before. With that said let us get on with the tour! As soon as I entered the exhibition hall I saw these monstrous power line insulators.
For a sense of scale I laid my phone down on the table. My Galaxy is not a small phone at all measuring 5 3/8" in length. As with all insulator applications before the transition to porcelain in the 1950's glass was used for everything. These big pieces were used on high voltage transmission line towers.
Pictured here is nice aqua Hemingray "Muncie" These were made at Hemingray's second facility in Muncie, Indiana.
A person would need a lot of real estate if they were going to collect very many of these giants.
The best thing about attending these shows is seeing all the wonderful colors and shapes. The unique champagne colored pieces below are called "carnival glass" The color is the result of a surface treatment the glass underwent after the molding process.
Each year a topic is decided on for a community display. A certain style or manufacturer of insulator is chosen and attendees submit their best examples of the chosen subject. This is a great part of the show because it brings together a very large amount of insulators all sharing the same breed and illustrates the wide variation of colors that existed. This year the style chosen was the common CD 145 or "Beehive"
Back in the early 1900's quality control was not like it is today. Whether by accident or intentionally pieces of debris such as chunks of metal and wire and fire brick from the furnaces would occasionally find its way into the molten glass. Some collectors specialize in these "Junk In Glass" pieces.
When the glass insulator industry was young the techniques used were primitive and unrefined. As a result small bubbles and fizz often appeared in the solidified pressings. Not so common were larger bubbles like these.
Besides the sales tables that fill the hall one wall is set aside for displays. This was the best display put on this year. A very thorough and well set up display with examples of both glass and early porcelain baby signals.
Some collectors must have really deep pockets! Check out the prices on these beautiful honey-amber Hemingray signals. Very few were produced in this color and as a result the scarcity drives up the price.
If the ambers are too rich for your blood a nice cornflower blue could be had for a mere couple hundred.
I've been curating this web log for about three years now and in that time I have been content to just post up my ramblings in writing augmented with photographs I take of the things I do and places I see. I've decided to get with the times and add a new tool to my box. This year I witnessed something very cool at the show and while I was standing there I decided to take some video footage using my Canon digital camera. Later I opened up a YouTube account and learned how to post up the media to it. Now for the first time in the history of Recumbent Conspiracy Theorist I'm pleased to present my very first video production: Pressing Glass Insulator Miniatures
Commemorative miniatures have always been made at the shows but for some reason I had not seen the process in person. I was so impressed I had to go back inside and purchase a couple of the pressings made earlier. The idea of these minies as a souvenir to be sold off to show attendees is not a new one. In the past small runs of miniatures would be produced as "salesman samples" to be given away to power and telecom companies when visited by the glass house salesmen eager to secure a lucrative contract to supply insulators to municipalities and utilities.
Another type of glass insulator that came after the telegraph era is known as the "Radio Strain" These little strange looking pieces were used to isolate the ends of wire antennas supported high up in the air. The support cord would be tied to one eyelet and and the antenna wire would be threaded through the other eye and doubled back on itself then secured with a few twists. Strains were produced in many colors but most common are clear and lightly straw colored tints.
The same collector and insulator enthusiast who was producing the miniatures has also acquired an actual radio strain mold from the 20's or 30's and has begun pressing strains again using recycled cullet of all different colors. Sometime I would like to pick up a few of these new ones or maybe even use vintage strains for my ham radio high frequency wire antennas.
I had a great time at this years show and found a few nice California insulators for my collection. Once we get a sunny day I'll take photographs and post up my new finds. Here is a great CD 187 threaded spool made by the California Glass Works. Unfortunately I didn't have enough money so alas it did not come home with me. The asking price was $115 -Ouch!