2001 >> September >> Color South of the Border  

Color South of the Border

Reprinted from "Crown Jewels of the Wire", September 2001, page 12

Display by: 
Keith Roloson
6220 Carriage Court 
Cumming, GA 30040-9111 

1st Place N.I.A. Foreign

This display has a wealth of color that in many instances can only be found in insulators manufactured in South America and Mexico. Represented here are spools, radio antennae insulators, telephone insulators and electrical transmission insulators from Colombia, Mexico, Cuba and Argentina. 

Not much is known about their origins. We do have some history on the Zicme company, and following is some information that I hope you enjoy.

Zicme was founded by a Jewish immigrant to Colombia. He began a glass business which included insulators. Colombia was and is known for salvaging everything, and scrap glass was no exception. Many of the Zicme colors cannot be found in any other manufacturer. The owner was able to start the factory successfully because the Colombian government favored domestic companies wherever possible. 

Zundel y Cia. Ltda was founded by Salomon Zundel on Dec. 29, 1955 in Bogota, Colombia. Production of CD 106, 154, 203 and 1050 insulators lasted for only four short years during 1961-1966. These insulators with the exception of the spools and a few of the first run CD 154s are all embossed ZICME which is the trademark for the company which is short for Zundel Industria Colombiana Materiales Electricos. 

From an on-line conversation with Caleb Thimell, one of three men responsible for bringing out most of the Zicme insulators: 

Keith: Just wondering why so few aqua Zicme's in any CD? I figure there are under 14 CD 154s, just a handful of spools, etc. Aqua is the "natural" color of glass. Did Zicme use mostly cullet? Why so many purples? Did he recycle glass with manganese? 

Caleb: There are plenty of aqua Zicmes in existence, at least in CD 154. It's just that collectors focus on the valuable and pretty colors first when out hunting for them, so we have left behind the less desirable colors in favor of a spectacular purple. 

However, I think they are scarce in spools. I have only seen but one aqua spool so far. And I'm counting the ones I saw installed on buildings. [Note: A few others are known, about 5 maybe were brought in by John Nasci and Vince Reh at the Williamsburg National, so perhaps 6 total, including the one in this display.] 

Not sure of aqua CD 203s because the CD itself is so scarce and rarely seen anywhere. Zicme used a lot of recycled glass in their insulator production. But they also had the National University develop a recipe for their glass too. So it was probably a sloppy arrangement where cullet was tossed in perhaps when the batch got low or at least as needed. 

Dark colored Zicmes are tough pieces plain and simple. It's too bad the blackglass ones are so under-appreciated when they are genuinely tough pieces. 

(Information compiled by Keith Roloson for display handout.)

Color South of the Border by Keith Roloson 
1st Place N.I.A. Foreign

Suspended along the top row are six different radio antenna insulators. All are Mexican in origin except for the Argentinian large middle rib style in an odd dark green. Flanking the display are yellow green with amber swirls; root beer amber, fizzy seafoam yellow green and sapphire blue/cobalt.

CD 214 Nacionales Telgraphos, yellow from Mexico; CD 154 Zicme super fizzy medium purple with olive "tadpole", CD 155 Telecom in vivid golden straw, CD 203 Telecom in straw and rare with sharp drip points, CD 106 unembossed Zicme in teal with oxblood swirling, CD 105 unembossed spool in violet cranberry made from cullet by Zicme -- all from Colombia; CD 154 with the embossing MIN. COM. CUBA (Ministry of Communications of Cuba) in a depression glass green color -- possibly made in Russia.

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