1985 >> July >> MACs Believe It Or Not  

MAC's Believe It Or Not!

Reprinted from "Crown Jewels of the Wire", July 1985, page 26

One of the great fascinations of the insulator hobby for me has been the incredible variety of specimens that have been found by avid collectors, primarily in the past 25 years, when the hobby has enjoyed its most active participation. As a new collector 12 years ago, I was amazed at the listings that appeared in Milholland's reference book, particularly since I hadn't seen much more than some aqua Hemingray 42's and an Armstrong DP - 1. 

The first purple we added to the collection was a real milestone, and so it went for a few years as our modest collection grew. Then it happened! That first piece that I was sure had been a misprint in Milholland was in my hand. For me, it was a CD 127 W.U.P. in Cobalt. To the best of my knowledge, there are now three known, and I was fortunate enough to see the other two at the St. Charles National last week.

That experience made me wonder how many collectors haven't had the opportunity to gain first hand knowledge about the super rare pieces. Maybe they haven't been able to attend the shows when they've been on display. Maybe they haven't purchased collections and had an extremely rare piece hiding on the back shelf. And, maybe they haven't been close enough to hear the whispering when one gets passed from hand to hand under the table at one of the shows. 

Well, this column is dedicated to all of you who haven't seen every rare insulator you would like to see, even if you don't ever have a chance to own it. Each column will highlight a rare insulator and, when itís available without compromising the sources of the current owner, a little history including how it got to its present home.

This month's "Believe It or Not" piece surfaced for the first time to my knowledge at the St. Charles National. One of the hobby's great human resources, Ray Klingensmith, turned up this piece, and it now belongs to Cecil Boos. I think it can fairly claim the title of the "Earliest Known Glass Insulator" until an earlier one comes along. Compare the picture of this glass gem to the reprint of Figure 3 on page 38 of Milholland's Fourth Revision. A striking resemblance, wouldn't you say? A physical inspection of the piece would convince you of the likelihood of this being one of the original "Bureau Knob Insulators."

These pieces were used by the first telegraph company in the United States, the Magnetic Telegraph Company, who contracted to construct a line from Philadelphia, Pa. to Newark, N.J. in 1845. This particular piece was dug in a privy in Norristown, Pennsylvania, one of the towns through which the telegraph line ran. Think of it, a glass insulator used 140 years ago -- a real "Believe It or Not".

That's it for this month. By the way, I'm sure many readers have a good story to tell and pictures to share about some rare finds, and I welcome any and all contributions for the column. Until next time, good collecting, and keep turning up those rare jewels.

Above: Drawing of "Bureau Knob" insulator. Right: Actual glass insulator belonging to Cecil Boos.

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