1970 >> May >> The Californias  

The Californias
by Marvin Collins

Reprinted from "INSULATORS - Crown Jewels of the Wire", May 1970, page 3
The company producing these insulators was first known as the California Glass Insulator Company, located at Long Beach, California. They started production in 1912, and only a Pony style insulator bearing C.G.I.Co. embossing (No. 1 illustration) has been found. It is not known if any of the "California" embossed insulators were made by this company before their name change to California Glass Works in 1914. But due to the large number of styles having exactly the same coloring as the C.G.I. Co. pony, it would seem very likely they did produce others. If this is not the case, then the California Glass Works must hold the record of producing so many known styles in so short a time, for they were out of operation in 1916.

Those of us living in California may have an advantage in collecting all of the styles, but the going is rough. Virtually no one has all of the 23 styles, though a couple or three collectors are near that ultimate point. The rarest items are numbers 9, 23, 17, 6, 19, 22, 20 and 21 in about that order.

To my knowledge, only one California with drip points (No. 9) has been accounted for, and only two two piece transpositions (No. 23). A lucky Bakersfield collector has both of these Items. The narrow groove, long skirt helmet (No. 17), and the small "Egg" (No. 19) are the next rarest, I believe. This guy-wire strain Insulator is embossed 10 CALIFORNIA above the groove, and PAT APL'D FOR below the groove. (May 1969, page 12) Note the uncrossed "T" In PAT, which is the only embossing error found in the California lineup, as far as I know.

The only two styles embossed with a size number are the two strain insulators, the smaller Number 10 size and the larger one embossed with NUMBER 15. The tolls are embossed with A007 above the name, though, and the wide groove signals have AO11 in the same place. Also some of the signals (No. 7) have an "A" embossed on top of the dome. The only style having embossing on both the front and rear is the California (front) Santa Ana (rear). It might be well to mention that not all of the Santa Ana insulators have California embossing also. The odds are against it, as after 1916 the principal user, P.G.&E. Co. had some other manufacturer produce this style for them. Most of the non-California Santa Ana insulators are dark green, and many are unembossed.

Color wise, no company matched California Glass Works for variety. Whether it sun-colored, or came out of the batch that way, almost every color of the rainbow can be found. The most unbelievable and startling to the aqua-oriented collector is the real true lemon color found most often in the "Helmet". What is referred to by many as "S.C.A." ranges from light pinkish, to peach, muddy amethyst, smokey, wine, and bright burgundy. The cool colors are green, aqua, and a blend of these, with blue-gray known locally as "sage" from sagebrush. For those familiar with this plant of the West, you know it varies in color a great deal, depending upon its dryness and the light hitting it, but always "sage". Once in a while a "jewel" can be found having a combination of S.C.A., yellow and green glass.

No doubt I have missed or goofed on something, but I hope it helps a few collectors. They can envy the California specialist collector who has most of them, along with me. My California collection contains only 15 of the 23 insulators, and my hopes of getting many more are slim. If anyone has additional information, please share it by writing this magazine.

CODE TO CALIFORNIA ILLUSTRATIONS followed by N R. Woodward's consolidated design numbers.

1. Pony - C.G.I.Co., Lt. S.C.A., Smoke, Green uncommon, CD 102

2. Pony - Aqua, Rare, a tall CD 102

3. Toll - A007, Sage Green, S.C.A., Burgundy, CD 121

4. Small Signal - Aqua, S.C.A uncommon, Semi rare, CD 133

5. Baby Signal - Smoke, S.C.A., Aqua uncommon, CD 160

6. Signal - Bluish Sage, S.C.A. uncommon, Very rare, CD 134 variant, same size as CD 161

7. Signal - Sage colors, S.C.A., Smoke, 3" diameter, near vertical skirt, CD 161

8. Signal - S.C.A., Dark Purple, Bright Aqua uncommon, 3-3/16" diameter, CD 162

9. Signal - S.C.A , Drip points, The Rarest, CD 161

10. Signal Wide Groove, A011, Sage, Smoke, S.C.A., CD 166 variant

11. Signal - "Hoopskirt", Green, Smoke, S.C.A., Aqua, CD 152

12. Exchange - "Keg", S.C.A., Smoke, Aqua uncommon, Hard to find, CD 112 variant

13. Beehive - Green, Smoke, S.C.A. "Postal" also found in identical shape and colors CD 145

14. Cross top - S.C.A., Semi-Rare, CD 208 variant

15. Pony - Brown's Duplex, S.C.A., has groove above center, and vertical sides, Semi- rare CD 187 variant

16. Helmet - All Colors except Aqua, identical to "Cable" Helmet except no "Thread" inside skirt, Semi-rare, CD 260

17. Helmet - Narrow groove, Long skirt, Crudely made, Extremely Rare, Sage, CD 260

18. Santa Ana - Smokey, S.C.A., CD 178

19. "Egg" - Green, 10 size, very Rare, CD 1130

20. "Egg" - S.C.A., 15 size, Rare, CD 1131

21. Transposition - One piece, S.C.A., Rare, CD 200

22. Transposition - One piece, Green, very Rare, CD 201

23. Transposition - Two piece, S.C.A., extremely Rare, CD 190/191

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