Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Antique Glass Insulators

Photo by Patrick Conn, PCONN, Flickr, "Around the House."

 My grandfather was a collector.  He collected everything from old tobacco cutters, to antique scales, to toy metal cars to coal company script.  One of his favorite things to collect was antique glass insulators.  A few years ago, my grandmother took me out to her old barn, showed me an old crate full of glass insulators, and told me they had belonged to my Grandfather...and now I could have them.  My "Granddaddy" was adored by my brother and me, so to inherit anything that had been important to him was a thrill for me.  They were dirty and heavy, but I somehow managed to heave the crate and its contents to my old car.  I still have all these old insulators, and every time I see them, they bring a smile to my face.  I have no idea WHAT to do with them, but they make me smile nonetheless. 

Photo by Julie Green, DestinyCaptured, Flickr

My husband has encouraged me to get rid of them.  I don't think I could do that.  These pieces of glass are a part of history.  Some glass insulators were made as early as the 1850's and used for telegraph lines.  Later, they were used for telephone and power lines.  Imagine all the communications that have passed by these little treasures!  If only THEY could talk!

Boston in the 1860's in front of Old State House.  Notice over the tops of the buildings all the old insulators!

Memphis, Tennessee, 1907, Union Depot. Wow...look at all the poles and all those insulators!

Louisville, Kentucky, 1906, Corner of Fourth and Main.  Here's a nice closeup of a pole with insulators...many, many insulators!

Hemingray Advertisement, 1926

In an attempt to find a creative way to display my antique glass insulators, I discovered on the internet an absolutely WONDERFUL idea!  Pendant lights made from glass insulators!  Below is a photograph of those listed on  Aren't they FABULOUS?  Now I won't rest until I can find someone who can turn my Granddaddy's old insulator collection into pendent lights for our house.

I am looking for other interesting things to do with these little pieces of glass.  If anyone has any ideas, I would truly appreciate you sharing them here.  I would love to find creative and wonderful ways of displaying these sentimental collectibles.

Emeralds in the Sky

A booming train derailed the silent night
The fallen poles in skins of moss unroll
A trains conductor pounding rails in-flight
Around the glass, and through the wires control

The rare conductors weren't common names
Those colored jewels, emeralds in the sky
Atop the threaded perch, flamboyant flames
Where mustard yeller insulators spy

A million miles of wire across this land
Converting sounds from golden amber girls
To ears of purple ponies on demand
With pleated skirts a dancing dancer whirls

The hemingrays beside the lost zicme
Between the poles a catenaries sag
Our saddened faces watch a crosses plea
In piles of poles and crosses, raise the flag

Memories wonder through our minds of glass
Our crystal balls of color now amass
In homes of those who wonder why, and as
Memories never fading from our eyes
Our minds release the emeralds to the skies.

~Wesley Willis, 2007

Happy end-of-July,


Kim said...

I have some of those old insulators. I even have a solid cobalt blue one. I liked the Hemingray ad or whatever that explained them. Really neat collection, Paula..DO NOT get rid of them. They are antique!!!I love the idea as lights. I have some old iron stands for glass votives that they sit down in and I use them to hold a votive. Other than that..let the light shine thru! What's the matter with Michael anyway?hahahahah

Kim said...

fill a large bowl with coffee beans or multicolored beans and stick a few of them into the beans in the bowl and put votives in them. (by the way in southern Indiana they call votive candles VOLTIVE candles) hahahaha

Kim said...

And, Paula, how did you find that are amazing.

Pajama Mama said...

Love the NOT get rid of them. The pendant lights are gorgeous.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paula, stopping by to let you know I miss you again. I also wanted to let you know that although I shut down One Heart at Home (my first blog), I still write at Red Scarf Diaries. Just need more simplicity these days and a homemaking blog does take more time.

Hope you are well. Hugs and blessings for your precious boy.
Much love,

Evelyn said...

I just found some insulators as I was cleaning out my mother's house. I am keeping them but I am not sure how to display them. I do love the lights. I can't wait for you to find some ideas, I will be watching. I found your blog on the linky followers blog hop and I am glad I did. I have been blog hopping for two days and I am loving meeting so many talented and amazing people. I am following you and hope that you take the time to hop over and maybe follow back.

My Turn (for us)

Thanks, I enjoyed the visit.

Patricia said...

What great pics. I have a picture of my grandfathers Boy Scout group in the early 1900's. It was one of the first troops in Houston's Heights area.

I am your newest GFC & Linky Follower from the Linky Follower Party Hop.

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biodtl said...

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Zab Clement said...

Thanks for this! A great research about insulators and spacers. Really a helpful one.