2001 >> September >> Insulator Factories Part of the Community  

Insulator Factories -- Part of the Community

Reprinted from "Crown Jewels of the Wire", September 2001, page 21

Display by:
Rick Soller 
4086 Blackstone Avenue 
Gurnee, IL 60031 847-782-8602 

Usually when collectors think of insulator factories, the focus is on the products they manufacture, not the role the factory has in the community. Nevertheless, insulator companies are major contributors to the community. Their contribution comes in the form of employment, community involvement, and, to a very minor extent, what I will label as tourism. This display presents some of the tangible signs of these contributions.

Employment Artifacts
The Ohio Brass Company provided jobs for these three employees - badges for identification.

From Square-D Company, an employee service anniversary pin.

Yearbook Advertisements 
Hemingray advertised in the Muncie, Indiana high school yearbooks in the 1930s as did Ohio Brass in the Mansfield, Ohio yearbooks. None encouraged graduates to become employees of their company.

Educational Materials for Schools
A 1939 booklet by Owens-Illinois specifically does appeal to potential employees by stating that, "The Company has always had the reputation of paying its employees as high wages in all brackets of the industry as any glass manufacturing plant."

City Anniversary Celebrations and Histories
Local companies published their own histories (Akron Porcelain and Plastic - formerly Mogadore Insulator Company) or were included in community histories (R. Thomas & Sons in sesquicentennial celebration book of Lisbon, Ohio). The Square-D Company produced this paperweight for the Peru, Indiana Centennial celebration in 1949.

Company Tours and Postcards
A booklet by Porcelain Plant of Westinghouse in Derry, Pennsylvania was issued for a 1947 tour that described what the visitor would see and a 1939 publication of Owens-Illinois welcomed "college people and older children who are genuinely interested in the work and in the processes by which their products are made."

Many postcards related to insulators companies were used exclusively by the company in the course of their business (e.g., soliciting business, advertising wares, or allowing potential customers to request a catalog). However, some postcards with views of factories were sold to tourists and residents.

This display probably just touches the tip of the iceberg in terms of ways insulators companies contributed to the community. Many contributions probably had no tangible artifacts. Other contributions are buried in sources the average collector would not think to consult -- like high school yearbooks or community histories. 

It's generally agreed that insulators were instrumental in opening up the world to communication and electrical technologies. What is not always recognized is that they also helped sustain the communities that produced them.

(Information compiled by Rick Soller for display handout.)

Insulator Factories -- Part of the Community by Rick Soller

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