Another glass item that I collect is insulators. I’m talking about the glass usually-cone-shaped things that are on the tops of telephone poles to insulate the electric wires.
Quite a few people collect insulators. The first time I saw an insulator was in an antique store. I was intrigued by it and had to ask what it was. When I found out, I got bitten by the collecting bug and never looked back.
Now I have a ton of them. I have them displayed along a fence rail around my back yard. They’re interesting to look at and they also make for quite the conversation starters.
I like to find insulators in antique stores and restoration-type stores. I don’t mean new stores in malls. I mean like those warehouse-type stores where you can find a ton of stuff usually covered in dust and ill-organized. But if you’re patient and persistent, you can unearth some gold mines.
Whenever I visit a new city, if possible I’ll go to whatever restoration stores I can find. They’re never centrally located to anything because they’re usually in a big warehouse, but I’ll take a taxi or rent a car and go track them down.
I have found some pretty great insulators. One time I found an orange insulator from Pompeii. I have no idea how it made it across the ocean to this country or to the restoration site it ended up in, but I grabbed it. It had some distinctive markings so I knew it was the real deal.
Another time I found an insulator from the first telephone line that crossed the United States. It had the name of the line on it and a serial number, and those two pieces of information proved that it was the real deal.
Sometimes I’ll trade or sell my insulators. It’s kind of like old-fashioned Pokemon card trading that my kids used to do. I usually post online that I have a certain insulator to trade or sell, and then someone will message me back, and if all the details are in order, we’ll meet for the handoff.
I’ve gotten $500 for a glass telephone insulator. Several times. They were a particular make and variety. Most insulators don’t sell for anywhere near that much. Sometimes you can actually pick them up for like a buck.
I have also put some of my insulators onto eBay and some I’ve taken down to our local auction house.
Ebay bidding can get crazy, especially if you have two motivated buyers. Then it’s like all hell breaks loose. I remember once I had a pink insulator in an active auction. There were a couple of interested buyers that put in half-hearted bids. Thirty seconds before the auction ended, a bidding war started. Every second the price went up, as the two buyers bid each other up.
They were both determined to win the auction. But when the bell was rung, so to speak, the auction was done and there was only one winner. The guy who paid $735 for one glass insulator.