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CD 154 - Insulator of the Week on Sat, 06 Sep 2008



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Embossings: There are 16 North American primary listings for CD 154's, so let's break it down for this particular edition of IOTW to the two that have probably seen the most widespread usage: Hemingray & Whitall Tatum.

Hemingray: Hemingray 42's were one of the most widely produced and utilized insulators in the history of insulator manufacturing. They were produced with smooth bases, round drip points and sharp drip points. There are dozens of embossing variations, including a variant with the addition of two large letters "MR" above the front embossing. The purpose of these two added letters remains a mystery.

The predominant colors found in Hemingray 42's are the clear, off-clear, ice blue and green tints, and especially the aqua and Hemingray blue shades. Medium to fairly deep shades of green are occasionally found. The deeper green shades are considered by some collectors to be somewhat under appreciated. Interesting aqua/blue, blue/green, lime green/ice blue and clear/blue two-tone mixes have been found. Hemingray experimented with "carnival" coatings on a limited number of 42's. There is also a listing of light green with white iridizing (anyone have more info on this one?). The most uncommon colors encountered are the rare white milkglass and stunning opalescent specimens. How many of each are known? Were they found in use, or found in the Hemingray dump? It is not common to find contaminants in Hemingray 42's, but milk and carbon bands/stringers are occasionally found, plus some with fizzy bubbles. One Hemingray 42 was found several years ago with a penny encased in the dome. A more recent discovery produced a Hemingray 42 with a penny deeply encased in the lower wire ridge. I believe at least two have been found with nails.

Whitall Tatum: Found only with smooth bases and over a dozen embossing variations. All are embossed as "No.1" It is interesting to note that one particular mold variation has a "2" embossed on the dome, while all others are void of dome numbers (shop or mold numbers).

The most common colors found are clear, straw and light to medium shades of aqua. Followed closely behind are the peach, pink and purple shades. Whitall Tatum did some limited experimentation with "carnival", iridizing and metallic coatings (can someone provide more info on these?). A small number of deep red amber units were also produced and are considered quite valuable to collectors. Contaminants are rarely found, most being an occasional milky inclusion.


We are lucky to have some Hemingray and Whitall Tatum historians within our hobby and hopefully they will share any additional knowledge they may have on the life and times of the Hemingray 42 and Whitall Tatum No. 1.

These brief comments on the Insulator of the Week are not intended to be complete and are presented to stimulate and encourage discussion and additional information from ICON. Now it's your turn to share info and/or post a photo of your favorite Hemingray and/or Whitall Tatum CD 154's!




James Johnson commented on Sat, 6 Sep 2008

Thanks Dwayne!!! Beeing a nubie i tend to lurk more then anything because i know verry little when it comes to details on specfic CD's. I have a genreal understanding and that's it. IOTW is one way for me to learn more details on a specfic CD sutch as this weeks so a big THANKS!! from me, i'm glad to see it's back. Now to the IOTW, i have a few of the fizzy 154's i also have 2 that are 1/2 fizzy and the other 1/2 hardly any bubbles at all. I will try to post some pic's....

James Doty, CA commented on Sun, 7 Sep 2008

Here's a picture of a Opal 154 i have, That was dug at the dump. [1] There is a large piece of what looks like fire place ash, that's hard and stuck to the inner skirt and the pin hole.

Dan Gay commented on Sun, 7 Sep 2008

I have a CD-42 that may qualify for the listing light green with white iridizing [130] although it does look to me like possibly a two tone with iridizing. [clear / ice green with a light iridized coating]

PicturePoster #215685623 [Dan] Bill You have seen this one , what do you think ?

Bill Meier commented on Sun, 07 Sep 2008

>I have a CD-154 that may qualify for the listing light green with >white iridizing [130]

I'm on the fence after seeing in in person with the irridizing... I have one where it is more pronounced. On mine, it's sort of like the top on the CD 239 Kimble... In the right light you can see it pretty clearly. I'd like to compare mine, and my other Ice Blue/Lime Green Two Tone with yours. I suspect yours is sort of between that and the Ice Green w/ White Iridizing. I have one of each.

My piece was picked by the seller from a downed pole. While walking along the RR, this one stood out amongst the other 154's and thus caught his eye and he went over and got it.

Richard Wentzel commented on Sun, 7 Sep 2008

Regarding the carnival Whitall Tatum Dwayne used as a reference photo in this weeks IOTW description, readers should be aware that this particular example is suspect. I wrote to Chris Tella after he posted and told him my thoughts. Even without seeing the insulator in person, it was clear that it came from the wrong mold series. A true carnival example can be found here: PicturePoster #225374072

Bob Berry commented on Sun, 7 Sep 2008

Here are some more links on the Hemi & WT CD 154 IOTW: Ian's excellent color page: [2]

Also wanted to note an interesting observation on the less common smooth base Hemingray-42's. These come in three base styles (Flat, Rounded and Beveled). A few years back I had the set of three, but have since traded them away, so I can't provide a picture, but they are clearly three very different molds. See: PicturePoster #201968449 for some additional reference by Ken Roberts.

As for the Whitall Tatum No. 1's in purple --> I know there has been much discussion if these were made purple or if they turned in the sun. There is one report of an early collector actually seeing them being installed already purple. I believe they were intended to be clear and turned purple pretty quickly, either on the pole or in outdoor storage at the WT plant. An experiment by Randy Wesner somewhat backs up this theory as he was able to bake the insulator back to clear. See:

and then put it back into the sun where it did start to turn back purple within 6 months.

Christian Willis commented on Sun, 7 Sep 2008

Okay, now for a few of my favorite Hemingray - 42's...

1. This Hemingray 42 is priceless to me, because it's the insulator that got me started collecting around 1991, when I was 10 or 11 years old: [3]

2. This one is also among my favorites, just embossed "MADE IN U.S.A." on both sides. (This is the RDP version. Has anyone seen or have the SDP version?): [4]

3. The "fang drips" Hemingray 42 would have to be one of my favorites as well. Gotta love that Hemi blue! [5]

Lee Brewer commented on Sun, 7 Sep 2008 17:19:52 -0400

Matt Kancle and I were out looking for glass along the B&O in 2004. We were walking in areas where the track was quite away from the pole line through the woods. Not too much showed up that day, but I remember picking up this Hemi 42 in Hemi blue just to look at it (I still like the color/shape of these pieces!). It looked as if the piece said HemingBRay. Of course I thought it was just some sort of fluke at first, but then more of them started appearing, from different collectors, over the years.

From Canada!

With fangs!

Jeff Edgerton commented on Sun, 7 Sep 2008

I'm out of "lurk mode", and will try to be a more permanent "player" rather than just reader, here on ICON. I would like to publicly THANK Duane Anthony for re-kindling his IOTW feature. It truly is a great idea ! And, on that note, this week's feature are CD154's. Brings to mind a question I would like to pose ICON land. Here goes............our price guide does in fact have a listing for a "lavender" CD154 W.T. Co. piece. Does anyone own one? Can anyone post a picture of same? THANKS to all who can help, or who just read the posts!

Billy Ewing commented on Sun, 07 Sep 2008

First I'd like to say thanks for bringing back the insulator of the week. I'm guilty of not posting replies, but each posting helped me learn something about insulators. My questions are about the MR Hemingray: How many are know to be in collections? Where were they found ( one was found in Kentucky)? Have they ever been found in the wild? Where do they rank as far as rarity goes

Rick Jones commented on Sun, 7 Sep 2008

Thanks, Dwayne, for taking back the leadership of IOTW and getting it rolling again. To show my appreciation, I'm actually going to respond to this one because I can add something.

I think it was 1973 or '74 and it involves one of my trips to the Hemingray dump in Muncie. My wife and I were walking what then were open fields of glass so thick you had to wear pretty substantial shoes. Sandals were out of the question. We were schlepping through the glass seeing all kinds of broken insulators and occasionally whole ones right on top of the ground. I was starting to get interested in cobalt insulators at that time, so I was focused on finding any kind of shard of cobalt or peacock insulator. There were actually times we would overlook whole aqua or clear insulators and just pass them by. We found carnival and amber whole ones sometimes and would keep those.

This trip turned out to be very special, though. After rejecting about everything we seemed to find that day, we came across two CD 154 Hemi-42's that we certainly were NOT going to leave there on the ground. They were both milkglass.

Needless to say, we were excited. No one had ever reported discovering the most common insulator in milkglass. I submitted photos to Crown Jewels and Crossarms magazines. I think both printed them. Later we ended up trading them for cobalts and threadless pieces. Seeing what Bill recently got for his CD 145 HG Co. in milkglass makes me wonder what those pieces might have been worth today. They were both in great shape---one VVNM and one NM.

Bill Meier commented on Sun, 07 Sep 2008

PicturePoster #98747516

gives the detail. I can say that a B was not initially engraved on the mold... Look at the left side of the. A B would have a vertical line... A G would have a very rounded shape. I see a very rounded shape...

I have seen distorted letters like this many times, and I do believe it is in the mold, thus you will see multiple pieces that are identical, as Lee shows. I call it a flopped over G ... The upper edge of the G bends down and touches the cross bar. How does this happen?

I have seen some cases where a small chunk of the mold between the embossing has broken off. I also know that a number of molds, definitely the CD 154's were rengraved to restore the embossing. While we don't conclusively have an explanation for why the embossing got weak, it doesn't matter why for these examples. In "touching up" the embossing, you could easily slip with the chisel, as you are following the path of the old letter G and go a little too far and make the rounded top of the G meet the crossbar.

This brings up something I have wondered about too... Most Hemingray's around this time period all had "stamped" embossing but the Hemi-42 clearly did not. The letters are different and larger. However they are generally consistent from mold to mold, and lined up neatly. How were these molds engraved? ... By hand? By machine? By some template? I don't know...

Regarding weak embossing, where parts of a word (left side say) is weak, and the right side of a word strong, I believe that part of the mold (right side is this case) was rengraved to make the embossing "normal" again... I don't believe this sharp difference of the depth and clarity supports either the mold is worn nor the graphite build up theories. If either of those were the case, I don't know that the change in embossing height would be that dramatic. Regraving part of the mold does.

I have also seem molds, including Hemi-42s where you can tell that some of the embossing was likely reengraved, as the reengraved embossing is larger, more bold and more sloppy that the initial engraving.

Just the engraving topic alone is an interesting one. Also associated with the "how did the embossing get weak in the first place?"


P.S. I have seen people say that they see an "8" on a old CD 252 mold, renumbered from No 2 CABLE to No 62 CABLE .. the 6 looks like an 8. "looks like" is the key here... not "is engraved" ... I believe the same thing happened here as with this G... The top part of the 6 "flopped over" touching the loop of the 6. Why do I say it is not an 8 engraved in the mold? Well, an 8 has an indent in the middle of the left side, as well as the right side of course. Where the two "circles" of the 8 meet. You look at these No 82 pieces, and I do not see this indent on the left side, thus I conclude an 8 was not actually engraved in the mold... could also be a slip during engraving the right side.

Bill Meier commented on Sun, 07 Sep 2008

I have the CD 154 NO NAME [020] as well... i.e. the one with round drip points...

A 1946 Hemingray Catalog says about the Hemingray-42

The old Hemingray Number 40, widely used from its introduction in 1910, was replaced in 1921 by the Hemingray No. 42.

The No. 42 is a double-petticoat type, with a long, smooth leakage path on the inner petticoat. It sits close to the cross-arm, thus giving the pin protection against rain splash. Its threads are accurately formed for a tight grip on the pin. The wire groove is a modern square type shown in Spec. l-A-33 of the Association of American Railroads, and is accepted as standard for most telephone construction.

Bill Meier commented on Sun, 07 Sep 2008

At 06:43 PM 09/07/2008, Rick Jones wrote: >Seeing what Bill recently got for his CD 145 HG Co. in milkglass >makes me wonder what those pieces might have been worth today. They >were both in great shape---one VVNM and one NM.

I can speak personally to this, as I have owned and studied both. All the Hemi-42's, CD 122, 128, 154, 168 and other shards of other CDs dug at the dump, are "sick" glass. Heavily etched and rough.

The CD 145 in milk glass is flawless; surface smooth and glossy. As good as, or better than your white milkglass CD 164 MAYDWELL's.

The white milk 145 is an "only one known" -- white milk 154's? I don't know an exact count.. a half dozen?

The white milk CD 145 had many things going for it

1) one of a kind in that color 2) smooth flawless glass, no etching 3) the 145 dates to the mid/end 1880's, the 154 to the mid 1930's -- "generally" older glass is more interesting and valuable 4) 145's in general I think are more "collectable" then 154's

All of those reasons is why the milk glass 145 commanded such a premium. I have seen white milk glass 154's sell in the $300-$3,000 range. The 145 sold for a little more ;-)

Imagine my joy and surprise when I walked into the 1999 Eastern Regional during regular show hours. Sitting out on Kevin Lawless' table, with hundreds of other insulators, is a white milk Hemi-42 !!! Price? ... $275, but he gave it to us for $255 !! Kevin was not generally known for his "discount" pricing either. Had a chip on the wire ridge, and the typical "sick glass" look... but still... What a find for a Hemi collector!!! At a regional no less, from an old time knowledgeable dealer... Just out on the table for anyone to buy, not set aside for us or anything... This was under priced in my opinion ;-)

How do I know these explicit details? My memory is pretty good, especially when getting great pieces like this, but we also keep detailed records of every piece we have purchased.

Anyway, my knowledge and thoughts on 145 vs 154 white milk pieces... !!!


P.S. Do I regret selling the white milk piece? Well, it's been three months now. Still no regrets. It is a great piece no doubt, but it didn't (to me) have the class and character of an Amber 8 or a Peacock 164; two of my favorite pieces, at any price. Not that those are cheap, but it's not why we like them!!

P.S.S. another bit of follow up from that sales... yes, it included my "dream piece", the Amber 8... How could I sell that? Well, I knew it could be replaced, and within a month I had another one back on my shelf. Interesting that is was the same one that I had originally owned in 1990, over 15 years ago! I had upgraded mine along the way, and the buyer of our first piece sold it back to us.

Richard Wentzel commented on Sun, 7 Sep 2008

Another fact worth mentioning about the earliest style Whitall Tatum Co. No. 1 is that the dome number (McDougald listing[001]) can be either a 1,2, 3 or 4. Additionally, there is an [020] style that also has the dome number, which you will not find listed currently.

Jack Comer commented on Mon, 8 Sep 2008

I have wondered about this too. I don't believe the No 42s are stamped embossing. You don't see the up-and-down, off-line letter embossings associated with stamped embossed insulators. Also, the backwards 2 embossed No 42 cannot be stamped unless the stamp was made with the 2 in reverse of how it should be. Possible, but not likely. Another error that comes to mind is the one with the Es missing the middle bar. Once again, unless the stamp was manufactured that way, you could not miss the middle bar only of an E on a strongly embossed mold. I have theorized to myself that the No 42 molds were probably machine-engraved, but not fully automated. This would account for some human error that caused these interesting features.

I have also seeN molds, including Hemi-42s where you can tell that some of the embossing was likely reengraved, as the reengraved embossing is larger, more bold and more sloppy that the initial engraving. I have seen these too, and hand-touched re-engraving is the only explanation I can accept. This ties in to the mold-paste, filled engraving theory. Most assuredly, the molds got what I call "cruddied-up" with the residue left from this mold paste. Here's the way I picture it: This mold paste, a graphite mixture of some sort, had to be more or less consumable so as to not completely corrupt the glass. When the molten glass enters the mold, the majority of the mold lubricant burns up, leaving a carbon residue on the mold. I would be willing to wager that after thousands of pressings, these molds would have a hard carbon residue similar to what you see on old spark plugs or on top of the valves in an engine with a couple hundred thousand miles on it. That stuff is very hard and brittle, and would account for weak embossings and re-engraved molds. Speaking of embossings and engraving, what about the shop number 1 on the dome of some of the No 42s? Any thoughts as to why only one shop number appears on the HEMINGRAY-42?

Jimmy Burns commented on Mon, 8 Sep 2008

Even though I am a confessed mud a holic I have a substatial CD 154 collection hidden within my color mud collection. (oh the shame) I have a couple questions? There seems to be several types of smooth base Hemi 42. Is there a reason and why drop the drip points? The two tone green-hemi blue Hemi 42 I assume is the result of faulty batch mixing. Hemi-42 lore? Anybody remember a tidbit in an old CJ of someone mixing crushed Hemi 42s into ashalt to make a driveway. I ve always wondered: wouldn't this have the potential ove tire blowouts or could you ground it smooth. Seems like a reasonable use Hemi 42s?

Brian Collette commented on Mon, 8 Sep 2008

Jack Comer Wrote: " I have wondered about this too. I don't believe the No 42s are stamped embossing. You don't see the up-and-down, off-line letter embossings associated with stamped embossed insulators. Also, the backwards 2 embossed No 42 cannot be stamped unless the stamp was made with the 2 in reverse of how it should be. Possible, but not likely."

Something to remember about stamping as it relates to insulators. There are two different sorts of stamps lying about the machine shop. Stamps for marking finished pieces of metal and what-not are molded in reversed letters, so that the resulting impression on the finished piece will be readable. Stamps used in mold making, such as for our insulators, are molded "face correct", so that the resultant impression in the mold will be reversed, so that the then resultant molded piece will be "face correct" and readable.

This is why reversed lettering can exist in "stamped embossing" insulators. Stamps with what "we" think are "reversed" letters/numbers do exist in the shop and could be selected by mistake. Now I am not asserting any connection to the piece that Jack was discussing, just explaining that the possibility of reversed stamping does exist.

Howard Ontell commented on Mon, 08 Sep 2008

Growing up amd living in North Jersey, I thought Hemi 42's and W/T 1's were the only insulators in the world, oh have I made up for my mistakes. Still have my 42's and 1's.

Rick Soller, Gurnee, IL commented on Mon, 8 Sep 2008

Discussion on the Hemingray M.R. has occurred on this site before and I've compiled the results into my web page. [6]

Bill Meier commented on Mon, 08 Sep 2008

At 09:24 AM 09/08/2008, Brian Collette wrote: >This is why reversed lettering can exist in "stamped embossing" >insulators. Stamps with what "we" think are "reversed" >letters/numbers do exist in the shop and could be selected by >mistake. Now I am not asserting any connection to the piece that >Jack was discussing, just explaining that the possibility of >reversed stamping does exist.

I understand the concept of both types of stamps, but I don't know that the mold maker would have both sets of stamps available in front of him when stamp engraving the insulator... that seems asking for trouble!!!

Now, on any stamped insulator has anyone seen any reversed numbers or letters? With the "correct" set of stamps, the only errors you can make are upside down letters, not reversed ones... although there is a CD 145 Hemi with a Y only rotated 90 degrees, so it is laying on it's side! The only error of that kind I have seen...

So, I'll pose two general stamped embossing error questions?

1) has anyone seen a reversed stamped letter/digit (no an upside down one) 2) has anyone seen a rotated letter/digit (+/- 90 degrees rather than upside down)

I only know of one -- the latter, on the CD 145 Hemi - a sideways Y.

PicturePoster #167443646

Bill Meier commented on Mon, 08 Sep 2008

At 11:33 AM 09/08/2008, Rick Soller wrote: >Discussion on the Hemingray M.R. has occurred on this site before and >I've compiled the results into my web page. >[7]

"John Scherzinger reported in September 2003 finding two of them in a Wisconsin pile (mold 52A and 36A)"

I believe he found at least five. I have a photo of them all lined up someplace... I didn't see it in the PicturePoster gallery.

>A soot covered one exists and the Wisconsin pile that two of them >came from indicate this.

I don't know that any soot covered ones came from that pile... I can confirm that a soot covered one exists.. I bought for just that reason... to keep it that way! I suspect most others would clean it... I believe I'm the only one who has both a soot covered and a clean MR in their collection! (the clean one was one that I bought that way)

Kevin Sukdolak commented on Mon, 8 Sep 2008

Two 42 style keeprs in one day listed at ICON forums? Is that a record or what! Great one's guys!

Richard Wentzel commented on Mon, 8 Sep 2008

Whitall Tatum Co. entered the glass insulator business with their No.1 double petticoat insulator. Using guidelines from Postal Telegraph-Cable Co, Western Union and A. T. & T., their prototype pieces had a flat dome, which has been assigned CD 153. Comments from the three agencies resulted in a reworking of the molds to gain more clearance between the end of the pinhole and the top of the dome, resulting in the classic early style Whitall Tatum Co. No. 1 which found use all over the United States as well as in other countries. Colors associated with this early style are aqua, straw and pink tints, and sun colored amethyst (SCA). For an idea of the range of purple tones in which this insulator can be found, please visit this link - PicturePoster #225375379 Missing from this lineup is a reddish purple hue.

At this point it is worth mentioning that Whitall Tatum never produced an insulator in purple glass. I have the complete production records from the early style No. 1 production era, and the only two colors listed are “clear” and “green”. Don’t get excited about the “green” listing - Whitall Tatum vernacular referred to any color not “clear” as “green”!

For a view of an A. T. & T. Co. Drawing which Whitall Tatum used for reference during development of their No. 1 insulator, please visit this link-

PicturePoster #225487179

James Watson commented on Mon, 8 Sep 2008


Bill Meier commented on Mon, 08 Sep 2008

At 07:36 PM 09/08/2008, Richard Wentzel wrote: > For an idea of the range of >purple tones in which this insulator can be found, please visit this link

I assume this is a good indication that all purple WT's contain manganese, and can turn virtually any depth of purple over time. From a tint to dark purple...

Derik Lattig commented on Tue, 9 Sep 2008

Hemi 42 Lore.. "Crushed Hemi 42's into asphalt in an old Crown Jewel." Hey Jimmy! That was me that came across that. but the guy had pound the glass so small, the only thing that resembled an insulator was blueish haze the pieces of glass had in the sunlight. They were smaller than a dime in size. The guy told me he had a barn full of insulators and when I got there he was so proud to show me what he had done with em! So there you go, a little refresh for you. ; )

Jimmy Burns commented on Wed, 10 Sep 2008

I asked a legitimate question about smooth base Hemingray 42. Why drop the drip points and why three different versions? Maybe since the question isn't about porcelain some of you glass experts will venture an answer a glass insulator question.

Better glass through better questions?

David Whitten commented on Wed, 10 Sep 2008

Since no one has responded yet, I will take the bait and put forth my idea (well, probably what I read somewhere, not really my own idea :-o), on why these were made with a smooth base: Probably a utility or other end user company(s) , (railroad or telegraph), made a special request for their insulators to be made without drip points, so Hemingray simply agreed to make them that way to fulfill those contracts. And maybe Hemingray agreed to give them a tiny discount since they didn't have to deal with the drip point baseplate? And that raises the basic question of why a utility would request "no drips" in the first place, if this was such a well-known and characteristic attribute of Hemingray insulators..........maybe they (the end user) didn't feel they were more effective in any way than smooth base models...... like the Whitall Tatum number 1s. Hmmm.......These may have been made for a company that was already using large numbers of Whitall Tatum CD 154s??.........does anyone know if the smooth bases 42s have been found along with lots of Whitall Tatums? And Jimmy, I don't have any ideas on why there's three versions of the smooth base (beveled, etc).

The color (Hemingray Blue) and embossing points to the time period of the 1920s when they were likely made (or possibly very early 1930s?)... Bob Stahr, any comments?? Needless to say, millions of Hemingray-42s were made with round drip points afterward, in fact for many more years to come. Another question that has been brought up on ICON in the past........what year were the last Hemingray-42s made? Seems like 1961 or 1962? Bob?

Pat Scott commented on Wed, 10 Sep 2008

David, the smoothies were mainly, maybe exclusively, found along the L&N. L&N used a lot of Lynchburg 42s, but any place I have been on former L&N lines was very sporadically populated with Whitall Tatums.

James Mulvey commented on Thu, 11 Sep 2008

Interesting choice for Dwayne to choose to restart the IOTW with.

For me this CD does combine several different stories.

Best insulator found in the wild; cd 154 light green Dominion 42.

The one insulator you traded away and regret; cd 154 light green Dominion 42.

Most unusual insulator you have owned; cd 154 light green Dominion 42.

Early in my collecting I happened to find a section of track where the poles had been cut in the late '70's and only the wires had been removed. During the last 30 years the line had been ;picked clean of everything glass except for the lowly cd 154's, 155's and a few cd 145's. One of the cd 154's in light green that I brought home had bubbles in it. Years later, through icon, I find out how unusual it is to find bubbles in the more recent productions .

I know now that what I had was a one of a kind insulator, and that I traded it to a seasoned collector for a white porcelain something that I can no longer recall.

The bubbles were unique in that they started small on the one side at the base and as they progressed to the top, across the top and down the other side, they became progressively larger. I'm recalling maybe 30 bubbles in total in a straight line up one side across the top and down to the bottom on the other.

Jimmy Burns commented on Thu, 11 Sep 2008

Thanks to those who answered my Hemi 42 question. But we haven't heard from the self professed Hemi experts on why the different types of smooth based 42s. Any research? Conjecture? Guesses? I have three in my collection of CD 154. 1) flat 2) rounded 3) beveled. All hemi blue. I've been told by another collector that there is one with a corrugated base but I ve never seen one. What's the deal? Help a novice reluctant glass collector out.

Bill Meier commented on Thu, 11 Sep 2008

I don't know we have a specific date when they were made made, just when they were last referenced in catalogs, which with latter year production like this may not be as accurate...

Who has the newest Hemi-42? Get out and count your dots! [8]

I would also be curious what the largest YY is... That is the date the last mold was made, with a dot for each year of production.

Nearly all of my dated ones are from a 1938 (YY=38) mold, and go up to 11 dots, making production 1949.

However, I do have a 1952 mold with 7 dots, so that's 1959 when that specific insulator was produced. Anyone have a different mold year between 1938 and 1952? Or a production date after 1959?

In 1938, the CD 155 Hemi-45 was introduced, and I suspect demand and production of Hemi-42's decreased. The CD 155 was a superior insulator.

David Whitten commented on Thu, 11 Sep 2008

Here are the very newest insulators in my collection: (I actively look for 'unusually recent' insulators when browsing flea markets, etc, so I probably have bought pieces that were totally ignored by previous collectors who saw them for sale :-)


Clear glass, almost as clear as a Pyrex, date code: 27-52 :::: [8 dots] = 1960 Clear glass, " " " " " , date code: 51-52 ::::. [9 dots] = 1961

And, while I'm at it.............


Clear, date code: 10-50 ::::::. [13 dots] = 1963 Off-clear (extremely faint straw tint), date code: 38-50 :::::::: [16 dots!!!] = 1966

Kerr DP 1:

Clear (extremely faint grayish tint), date code: 26 72:. [3 dots] = 1975

Bob Stahr commented on Thu, 11 Sep 2008

I don't have an explanation on why the various forms of smooth bases for the 42's. I could only guess that maybe these base plates were done at the factory mold shop in lieu of being outsourced to one of the molding shops that supplied Hemingray. Maybe the moldmakers were not consistent.

As for the latest one, Bill has me beat, the latest I have is from the 1952 mold set with 4 dots making it 1956 production.

Bill, there is a 1948 mold set as well. Mine has 4 dots indicating 1952 production.

Jimmy Burns commented on Fri, 12 Sep 2008

Sounds like a reasonable explnation. Was the dropping of drip points generally a cost effective move?

Bill Meier commented on Fri, 12 Sep 2008

At 07:17 AM 09/12/2008, Jimmy Burns wrote: >Was the dropping of drip points >generally a cost effective move?

With a Hemi-42, I can't believe it was a cost effective move. As stated, they had to make new smooth base base plates. I suspect, as some others stated, it was to satisfy a special request by one buyer.

I believe in one catalog I have, they said they could supply smooth base insulators on request. However the default was to include the drip points, and I suspect few buyers really cared. They were certainly used to seeing the point Hemingray insulators!!

Kevin Carnevale commented on Fri, 12 Sep 2008

I am glad to see some chatter about the Hemingray 42. I often wondered how to tell what year my Hemi 42s were made. The Hemingray 42 is like the VW Bug or the Model T; they were produced over decades and had minor changes throughout the usefull life span. And they are Cool! Kevin C in NH

Paul Greaves commented on Fri, 12 Sep 2008

I have a suggestion... (of course, it is all speculation since I wasn't there!)

Perhaps one customer requested the smooth base because the drip points in those days were long and sharp. (Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the smooth based '42s are typically Hemingray Blue, and seem to be similar in character to the SDP versions.) Perhaps the customer noticed that the long sharp drip points would commonly get chipped and bruised during handling, perhaps even increasing the likelihood of their employees getting cut or injured. Perhaps because of this and other customer's special orders for smooth base, Hemingray re-thought the drip point design, and eventually went to round drip points? They do seem to survive better, and later Hemingrays of the "round drip point era" are seldom found with smooth base as well. Of course, eventually they dropped the drip points entirely, finally admitting (apparently) that they really didn't do much anyway...

Brent Burger commented on Sat, 13 Sep 2008

The SB 42's have all the earmarks of being early production of the sharp drip 42 era. The 42 design was introduced in 1921 as the WU "Standard" for the CD 152 (which had held the title since 1912).

The SB units have a peculiar sharp edge feel and look to them that is even moreso than the SDP units (as compared to the smoother RDP units. I am referring only to the earlier, taller profile RDP's made before 1934 (the ones without the date / mould codes). The later ones offer a whole different discussion. The SB units are only known in that zinger blue like the SDP units are commonly found in, however, the SDP units are *rarely* found in crappy aqua, so I suppose there is the off chance the SB units might also be found in aqua ????

It should be noted that each generation of 42 took on a slightly different look. The SDP looks a little different than the RDP's and the SB guys look a little different still. I would suggest the SB units look more like the SDP's than the RDP's, but are not exactly the same. From this, I would extract that a smooth base 42 is NOT just a sharp dripped unit with an undrilled base plate subbed in. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that the sharper edges and the dissimilar look and profile indicates that the SB untis were the first to be made, and that the moulds were a little worn and tweaked by the time the SDP's were added.

I would also like to point out that the SB 42's were not all found on one line, but were scattered all over the country in use by different companies in widely spread locations. You can dig lots of shards of them along the abandoned UP "direct route" into Spokane through Marshall Canyon. This line was built in 1912 and originally insulated with 162 Californias and re-used earlier stuff like CREB's. I have even noticed the varied baseplates amongst these shards, indicating they were probably being shipped (and mf'd) at the same time, which might further suggest that there were perhaps three moulds dialed up to start and put into production for a limited time before Hemi really went at the design full bore ?

For the 42 lover with some time on his or her hands, a little detective work might scare up just what lines these were found on and see if there is a pattern. It seems to me there is not. If this is true, then the "one buyer" specifying no drips is disproven, unless of course, they were all sold to an intermediate "jobber" and THEN sold to various actual users. But as I casually recall the SB units were found in south eastern states with no 1920-era connection to the UP. Just another lead to chase.

As a kid, in spite of the fact that the 42 was almost easier to find than dirt, those persistent buggers were utterly irresistable to the sparkle-drawn eye in those fizzy blues, greens, that deep aqua the RDP units are found in, and even the ice blue looked like a million bucks when up on a pin, just screaming in the sun. The GN main, as it headed west toward the Cascade Tunnel sported two arms that were largely populated with those really good green RDP 42's. It must have been a section that was specifically rebuilt at a very specific time, as 50% or more of the glass on those two arms were those greenies. The old highway ran along the right-of-way, but had been blocked at each end when the new road went in a few hundred yards away. The old route was more hilly and the followed the tracks through the tall pines, with the poles on the opposite side of the road from the railroad itself. There must have been a 4-5 mile stretch of that abandoned road with the old openwire (it looked as much like phone as railroad) and was quite a sight to see. The blue SDP 42's REALLY stood out against those greens there in the piney woods, but the greens were actually pretty darned rare. I can still smell the heat on the poles, railroad ties, those towering pines, and the ribbon of forgotten concrete.

  • sigh*

As a side note, it seems a lot of collectors are not aware of the "Western Union Standard" insulator.

As the industry giant in the early days, Western Union ordered zillions of insulators for their vast system. They came to standardize their practices and construction, and by the 1870's had declared the CD 127 as their "Standard" for all construction. Over time this design was replaced by others, and there is a historic "trail" that winds through the hobby as it relates to why certain styles are so common. As I know it, the list went like this:

CD Years

127 early 1870's 126 mid 1970's 145 1884-1912 152 1912-1921 154 1921-1938 155 1938 to the end

By the 1930's, an expanded telephone network and technological advances diminished the WU "Standard" as the industry benchmark it had been. The Western Electric branch of AT&T had become even a bigger driver in the trade. They seemed to favor the same insulators, but AT&T had gone in the direction of carrier circuits as well.

Pat Scott commented on Sat, 13 Sep 2008

Finally, an answer to a question I posted here before, and one banging around in my head otherwise for quite a while. Was the L&N the only user of these? It looks like that was not the case. Thanks, Brent.

David Whitten commented on Sat, 13 Sep 2008

I'm posting this as a brand-new thread, as recently a brief discussion on the most recent Hemingray-42s was buried within other posts with a subject line not immediately indicating that this subject was mentioned in I wanted to catch anyone's attention who could possibly add more info for the insulator-collecting community. (Or should I just say "Inquiring minds want to know"?) Our webmaster Bill asked for input on the number of dots seen on these more recent 42s. I haven't seen any replies other than Bob Stahr's. The newest Hemingray-42 I have ever seen is embossed with the mold-date code: 51-52 : : : : . [9 dots] , which indicates the mold was made in 1952, and this actual insulator was manufactured in 1961 (in Muncie, Indiana, for any newbies out there that want to know). This was among a handful of insulators I rescued from along the old L & N railroad that runs through St. Matthews (suburb of Louisville, KY) when the telegraph lines along that section of track were wrecked out in the spring of 2005. I would like to know if I have the very newest Hemingray-42 known? Anyone out there who has the time or energy to look through their clear Hemingrays (uh....OK, so maybe a few collectors on ICON have long since culled out all of their newer common problem, I understand)........... would you post the mold/date codes on ICON for us? This Hemingray-42 production run (1921 to 1961(?) is, needless to say, a solid 40 years (or more) of making one basic wonder there is at least one example at nearly every antique mall I have ever visited. I find it interesting that even though the No.42 was superceded by the No. 45 (CD 155) in 1938 as the new "Standard" for communication lines, Hemingray evidently still had a small demand for the 42 until at least 1961, i.e. 23 years later.

David Boothroyd commented on Sun, 14 Sep 2008

First I would like to say that I'm glad to see Brent back with another interesting post. Now I would like to add my newest Hemingray 42s to the list. Last Winter I found two of these on a downed crossarm. One has code # 4-52 with 9 dots and the other has code # 22-52 with 9 dots which gives them a manufacture date of 1961. These are not newer than the ones David Whitten mentioned but what makes them interesting is that they are a light green color. Thats why I kept them. I thought it was unusual to find something other than clear made at this late date. So check those light green ones, too. Who knew that the lowly Hemingray 42 could generate so much interest?

Bill Meier commented on Sun, 14 Sep 2008

At 06:30 PM 09/13/2008, David Whitten wrote: >The newest Hemingray-42 I have ever seen is embossed with the >mold-date code: 51-52 : : : : . [9 dots] , which indicates the >mold was made in 1952, and this actual insulator was manufactured in >1961 (in Muncie, Indiana, for any newbies out there that want to know).

Mr. Woodward indicates he has one marked

"The latest number I have is 34-52:::::: or 1962 production."

so he beats you by a year ;-)

Bill Meier commented on Sun, 14 Sep 2008

At 02:34 PM 09/13/2008, Brent Burger wrote: > As a side note, it seems a lot of collectors are not aware of > the "Western Union Standard" insulator. > >152 1912-1921

Brent, are you sure of that 1912 date? 1910 was when the CD 152 was introduced. At that time, AT&T had a contest of sorts. Several major insulator manufacturers (Hemingray, Brookfield) submitted various designs for consideration. Documentation indicates that Hemingray included the CD 169 (HemingrayType 1), and CD 157. I also think AT&T provided a drawing of a CD 152 for Hemingray and Brookfield to both produce, and they were doing tests for quality control on each companies production.

There are pages in the AT&T archives about this. One photo shows about 50 CD 169 Type I's laid out on the floor, in various states of damage. They were subjected to some sort of stress test, and they were analyzing the results. If you look at the shape of the CD 152, 169 and 157 they are all sort of similar. Of course they were tested for their electrical characteristics too.

I also believe the CD 176 and CD 176.9 were also included. There is another photo of a pole with about 10 crossarms on it, and each crossarm had ten of the same insulator that was under test. An impressive layout of some rare types!

Walter Baumgardt commented on Sun, 14 Sep 2008

Dave’ My most recent is also a 1952 with 9 dots making it a 1961. I have a few with more than 9 dots’ but with an earlier mold date. The 1961 is my most recent. They were found on an abandoned line in Canastota’ NY. Even the poles were gone. The insulators were found in poles at about the distance between poles. I was always surprised by the fact that such a recent manufacture would be found on an abandoned and dismantled line.

Bill Snell commented on Mon, 15 Sep 2008

Quote Bill Meier: > I also believe the CD 176 and CD 176.9 were also included. There is another photo of a pole with about 10 crossarms on it, and each crossarm had ten of the same insulator that was under test. An impressive layout of some rare types!

Bill, I don't think 176 would have been included in a test in 1910. Whitall Tatum wasn't making insulators at that point, and the 176 patent #1,708,038 dates from 1929.

Bill Meier commented on Mon, 15 Sep 2008

Sorry, got my "wires" crossed... The testing for the new CD 152 replace was done in 1909-1910. See


The crossarm of test insulators that I remember (as noted in the above) did contain CD 176's, just that the date wasn't around 1910...

"In the February 1995 issue of Crown Jewels of the Wire on page 12 there is a picture of a man climbing an experimental telephone pole. I viewed the original picture (97045) and it was taken on 12/17/41 in Chester, New Jersey at a Bell Laboratories test facility. All of the insulators are made by Whitall Tatum.

The CD 154 insulators on the bottom row are too dark to be purple so I suspect they are amber. The second and third row from the bottom are straw or clear. The 4th and 5th rows from the bottom appear to be CD 128. The 6th row from the bottom are CD 176. The top row is blurry in the original picture but they appear to be CD 106."

Just that I had mixed in with the other testing. This is 1941, and does show the CD 176. You can see them in this picture.


I apologize that I mixed the two pieces of information together...


P.S. Thanks David for doing that research at the AT&T archives.

Claude Wambold commented on Mon, 15 Sep 2008

I never picked a lot of Hemi 42's but some that I remember I picked in the 1970's were about a dozen of them in the dark bright blue color with hundreds of micro bubbles. These also had those extra long sharp drip points. As for the WT No 1 they were not too interesting except for the SCA ones. I never found a big concentration of them. It was more like three here, two more about 10 poles farther down the line, etc. In the last 5 years, I have probably cleaned 3 or 4 thousand of the WT No 1 for resale. Most were Aqua, also a lot of straw color, some clear and a few peach. There are two things I noticed about the WT No 1's. I would say they had the best quality control in the business. The other is mould no. 13. I have looked at every one. There mould no. 12, 14, 23, 33 but I have never seen a13. Is this like the 13th floor of a big building ??

Andrew Gibson commented on Thu, 18 Sep 2008

Claude Wambold said: > There mould no. 12, 14, 23, 33 but I have never seen a 13. Is this like the 13th floor of a big building ??

If I recall correctly, Richard Wentzel has said that Whitall Tatum is known not to have used all mold numbers in a sequence. In other words, if they had 12 molds, they weren't numbered 1-12. So "missing" numbers are to be expected! Also, I've got a CD 160 Whitall Tatum with a mold number of "0". Since I was expecting a normal sequence like 1-12, the zero was a definite surprise for me!

Bill Meier commented on Thu, 18 Sep 2008

At 01:46 PM 09/18/2008, Andrew Gibson wrote: >If I recall correctly, Richard Wentzel has said that Whitall Tatum >is known not to have used all mold numbers in a sequence. In other >words, if they had 12 molds, they weren't numbered 1-12. So >"missing" numbers are to be expected!

Woody has made this comment in general... If your automatic press takes 12 molds, you aren't going to make just 12 molds... if one mold breaks, your production stops... So, perhaps you make a spare, mold 13 while making all the other molds. Easy to make an extra mold while in the mode of making molds. Nothing breaks, mold 13 is never used... etc.

Andrew Gibson commented on Thu, 18 Sep 2008

The point I was making, is that if Whitall Tatum had a 12 press machine, they would not have made molds numbered 1, 2, 3, ... 12. If they made 13 molds, they would not have been numbered 1-13 either. They would have been 1-5,7-9,11,15-18 or something like that -- with "gaps" where some numbers were not used, for whatever reason. I don't believe it was a case of a 12 mold machine, they made 13 molds numbered 1-13, and put mold 7 on the shelf and never used it. It is actually a case of they did not number their molds sequentially.

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