Brown U-242 Fred Locke

By Mike Spadafora; posted March 29, 2016

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(this is a really long post but I feel the information is so important it needed to be added below is an email chain with much detail about early porcelain signals after my own text post here ) betwine Elton Giah Andrew Gibson and myself ) - These are the only two brown glazed Fred Locke signals known to exist or at least that have been officially reported . I Photographed these together for the first time for comparison. Both are MOLD, have a fully glazed pinhole, and have a filed firing rests as well as typical Fred Locke glazes. The unit on the left is unmarked. A handful (maybe less then half a dozen) white ones are also known that are identical to these . Fred Locke appears to have been the originator of the first porcelain signal design . This design originated in late 1903 or early 04 and likely only a very limite. Eltontd number were produced before the design was modified around 1905 to a green trimmed version with no mold line . The marked ones were likely produced for only a few months in early-mid 1904. I am sure more of these exist out there somewhere . They could be easily overlooked in a box of dirty soot covered non-descript signals you might see on the floor of a junk shop . It pays to dig through every box even if it is full of lowly brown mud side ties! An unmarked one of these would have considerable value to the guys who want one ... and there are a bunch who do! The white ones could be easily mistaken for a Pittsburg piece as they both have mold lines but Pittsburg never made a signal in this exact shape and their pieces usually have crude unglazed pinholes where as these have uniform glazed pin holes Just a couple follow ups. Of the companies we know about, New Lexington (1903-1912) could in theory have pre-dated a 1905 intro of the baby signal by Lima. But then there are all the no name baby (or large) signals made by companies unknown. You don't think any of them could have made a signal style prior to 1905?

And while asking, can I poke at the other end of the date range? When do you think they stopped making the base rest signals? All the later signals are skirt rest versions. Any thought as to when the extension of the inner skirt occurred and when the recessed inner skirt went out of use? I like this line of thought. Know I can think of Fred Locke as the father of all my porcelain baby signals! At the time Fred Locke introduced his signal, U-242 (No. 44), in 1903 there were no other porcelain manufacturers making that style. Only Thomas could have produced one at that time, but they did not. The 1904 and 1907 Thomas catalogs did not offer a signal or a baby signal or anything with a similar shape. Their 1910 catalog offered signal No. 1111 (3-1/4 x 3-3/8), which was simply a copy of the popular Locke No. 44. It was an effort to compete. Their signal No. 1077 (3 x 3-1/2) was a narrower version with a wider groove and was a copy of one made by Lima in 1905 (No. 120). The first double petticoat baby signal was produced by Lima and shown in their first catalog in 1905. This was No. 120 (3 x 3-1/4) "Extra Deep Groove Double Petticoat". It was cataloged as late as 1907. A specimen has not been identified. The 1909 Pittsburg catalog showed a porcelain baby signal when they started production. It was No. 14 called "Deep Groove Double Petticoat Pony". This was probably U-231. The catalog illustration appears to be simply a copy of the Brookfield CD 160, but production looked much different. In 1909 the also offered 4 other signal styles. By the 1910 catalog they offered a more conventional looking baby signal, No. 14-1/2 (U-241A, 3-1/4 x 3-3/8). it appears that the Fred Locke signal No. 44 (U-242) was introduced in late 1903 or early 1904. It was not shown in the recently discovered undated (circa 1903) FL catalog but it was shown in the display at the July 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. [id=463856987] The 1910 Locke catalog shows No. 44 (U-242) with recessed inner skirt as Fred Locke designed it. The 1912 catalog shows No. 44 with extended inner skirt. So, that narrows down the change to having the firing rest on the extended inner skirt. Regarding New Lexington, the earliest catalog offering NL insulators is the 1905 Mayer-Englund catalog. It does not show a signal in any of the 19 pin-types. The styles unipart styles were essentially copies of those made by Imperial and sold in the 1902 and 1907 C. S. Knowles catalogs. One style (No. 17, 3-1/8 x 2-5/8) was not a cable-top, but it did not resemble a signal. It was a unique style with side groove that has never been reported or assigned a U-number. Apparently in the first few years that New Lexington was in operation they were primarily focused on high voltage insulators. In the 1909 Central Electric catalog, they did show a few low voltage NL styles. One was signal style No. 14 (3-1/4 x 3-5/8). My new Guide Book photo-illustration for U-237 is a NL signal. The light tan glaze indicates it may have been made in the early years of NL, which would be 1904. Arthur Watts was a member of the Victor School (July 1901) and supervised the construction and operation of New Lexington. He had close ties with Fred Locke returning to Victor in early 1905 after NL plant shut down in November 1904 and worked there until 1908. Some ties were a bit too close since Fred Locke filed suit against NL in December 1903 barely 1-2 months after NL started their operation. Perhaps the signal was copied by Watts in early 1904? However, Fred Locke's signal was much more refined with a well-formed wire groove, but the NL version had a very shallow wire grooveit appears that the Fred Locke signal No. 44 (U-242) was introduced in late 1903 or early 1904. It was not shown in the recently discovered undated (circa 1903) FL catalog but it was shown in the display at the July 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. [id=463856987]

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