The Big Unsolicited Brookfield Question

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= The Color Timeline = = The Color Timeline =
* start - 1907/8 Light aqua indicates production in Brooklyn. * start - 1907/8 Light aqua indicates production in Brooklyn.
-* 1906 - 1907/8 Transitional green. Note that there is some disagreement her. Brent feels this is a transitional color, Andrew thinks it earlier. The middle insulator in this picture -- -- Andrew would date to around 1897-1903.+* 1906 - 1907/8 Transitional green. Note that there is some disagreement here. Brent feels this is a transitional color, Andrew thinks it earlier. The middle insulator in this picture -- -- Andrew would date to around 1897-1903.
* 1906 - 1921 Dark aqua and green Indicates production in Old Bridge. * 1906 - 1921 Dark aqua and green Indicates production in Old Bridge.
* ~1915 - 1921 Light Blue, frequently with snow. Note 1915 is rather arbitrary. * ~1915 - 1921 Light Blue, frequently with snow. Note 1915 is rather arbitrary.

Revision as of 15:27, 28 July 2013


Timeline with Hard Dates

  • 1898 Purple CD 293 LOCKE pieces, made by Brookfield. [1]
  • 1898 Brookfield Incorporates in New York [2]
  • 1903 William Brookfield dies [3]
  • 1906 Old Bridge plant is built, insulator production starts. [4]
  • 1907/8 Brooklyn production of insulators stops. [5]
  • 1908 Brookfield incorporates in New Jersey. [6]
  • 1909 introduction of drip points.[7]
  • 1912 Brooklyn plant closed. [8]
  • 1918 Thomas Gillespie plant explosion. [9]
  • 1921 Brookfield factory for sale.[10]
  • 1922 Broofield plant sold. [11]

The Color Timeline

Original Emails

Brent Burger

July 6, 2013

The Big Unsolicited Brookfield Question [Reply to ICON] Brent Burger, Spokane, WA "Brent Burger" <> [Reply to sender only] Fri, 5 Jul 2013 10:20:44 -0700

OK, .... here we go !  ;-) Get out our big Can of Worms opener and let's see where this roller coaster goes !

I have given this lot of thought on how to organize my thoughts and the best I can come up with is a chaotic mess of random observations that I will try to present in a way that makes sense and/or provokes others to give feedback that might provide some key tidbit to put more of "the impossible puzzle" together.

It is my hope that some of you can provide examples of CD's, colors, shop numbers that are outside the scope of my own collecting that might tie up some loose ends or jar the existing thinking on a given point. I do keep a few non-102 Brookfields as side interest/study value, my main study group in the 102. Those who can offer comment/ photos of other CD's relevant to the discussion are greatly encourage. Another angle to this would be the discovery of dated photos of the California Glass Insulator Co. showing that styles thought to be LATE production were actually very EARLY production ! I am fully prepared (and welcome) being proven wrong on any of this and invite anyone with even shaky "evidence" to speak up, as the chance observation might prove far more viable if we can connect the dots.

That said, let me preface this with how I fit into this, as my scope in the very large Brookfield picture is vague on the large range and more acute on the more narrow focus of post-1900 insulators, and much more specifically on those pony styles made by the company. In this way, I will rely heavily on others to bring examples and theory to the table on items outside my narrow scope.

My area of study centers around skirt embossed Brookfield (SKEB) CD 102's, which we presume to be made roughly post-1897 to the end of production in 1921. The focus of this writing and following discourse will be the various embossing types - WBFNY, BFNY, BF, and B and how they may or may not relate to the production facilities in Bushwick (Brooklyn, NY) 1860's - 1912 and Old Bridge (OB), NJ, 1906-1921.

Some of Brookfield history is known. Much has been taken as fact from dialogue had with Wm. Brookfield Jr., something that has proven to be less than accurate as research has been done. BUT ! ... I feel this "known" history is the perfect jumping off point, as it allows us all to walk through the new knowledge and note the corrections as our hobby knows this history. So, I will lay this out as much as I have known it, with addendum and corrections, and everyone can add, comment, or otherwise as we move along to build an as up-to-date history and historical theory as possible.

Brookfield History as known in 1967:

1865 - Brookfield gets into the insulator business after Louis Cauvet sells the screw-thread pinhole patent rights to the Brookfields. I have heard it discussed in recent years that a start date is more likely to have been around 1868, and that the patent granting date does not necessarily indicate a start of production. Brookfield kept their admin office at 55 Fulton St. from their earliest insulator production days to some time in 1882.

1882 - Brookfield moves their offices to 45 Cliff St. It should be cautioned that while it is highly likely that Wm. Brookfield Sr. moved quickly to re-engrave his molds to reflect the new address (based on anecdotal knowledge of the man and his drive to build dominance in the field), this assumption loses merit after his death and should not be considered absolute.

1890 - Brookfield moves the offices again. This time to 83 Fulton St. I am uncertain if, or when Brookfield ever moved again, but of importance to dating the product, this would be the last address engraved on their insulators and it was sporadic - some getting it while others did not - and what I suspect was a transitioning away from the crown embossing that Brookfield had favored since the beginning. This leads us into the area of study and discussion about the less defined SKEB embossings and periods of use.

1897 - I am drawing a blank here for specifics, but written accounts say Brookfield was at the 83 Fulton address from 1890-1897.

1903 - William Brookfield Sr. dies, setting off a string of changes within the company. William Brookfield Jr. states that the "W" was dropped from use at this time. Whether this happened immediately is questionable, but 1903 is the general date for when the BFNY began to appear and the WBFNY emb'g may have carried on until service was required or the molds wore out.

1908 - Brookfield moves to Old Bridge. This information has been proven incorrect by period documents stating work began on the new plant in 1906 and was in production before 1908 there. Also, it once was believed this move also meant that the Bushwick plant closed in 1908. It actually remained in service into 1912.

As we know it now, insulator production began at OB in 1906. It was the first production to be done at OB, and of note, insulator production continued at Bushwick for several years before all insulator production was moved over to OB. Do we have definite dates for start at OB and stoppage at Bushwick ?

It once was considered fact that after the move to OB, the "NEW YORK" emb'd was dropped. This is almost certainly untrue, as OB glass was notably much darker than those glasses made at Bushwick, and many examples of the OB glass are found marked with BFNY. Conversely, examples of the earlier Bushwick glass are found marked WBFNY and BFNY (as would be expected), but also BF and B.

Which leads to the last comment about embossing types. It was once considered fact (based on ???) that "B" marked insulators were made during and after WW1, based on a shortage of skilled workers available to engrave new molds. This has proven to be nothing but poppycock, as B-marked insulators can be found in Bushwick colors, and the standard OB dark aquas. A keg variant found in Bushwick light aqua is also embossed BFNY on the skirt with a "B" between the grooves. It appears the B marking was used randomly from perhaps as early as 1897 to the very end with no obvious rhyme or reason to its application.

It is my belief that OB production was always primarily a dark aqua (tealish) to dark green, and often swirled with olive to create greens, two-tones, and the occasion olive or amber run. The latter occurring with greater frequency at, or near the very end. More on this later.

Very end production is noted by a change in glass appearance and molds/molding techniques. Common items showing these attributes are the Brookfield No.9, 31, 36, and 44 marked pieces, however, others are also found with these characteristics as well. The glass has a different feel to it. The surface is often less smooth, and the mold lines are often sharp edged. The glass color was often a lighter blue-aqua, often seen with snow in it, but runs were made that were much more green, and we are all familiar with the olive and ambers also made in this period. The No.9 and 44 probably being the most often seen in these amber type colors.

I find the greatest "mystery" about Brookfield production to revolve roughly around the 1900 to 1918 period with moments of clarity to *perhaps* help us put some of the questionable periods in better focus. Going on the assumption that Bushwick glass was primarily lighter blue-aqua in color, and Old Bridge glass being primarily the dark aquas and greens, I find myself plugging in observations of profiles and colors to build theories about what stuff was made when.

Following are photographs of different pieces and groupings with my theories. This is already a #@! book, so I will submit the entirety in sections to aid the "short of attention span".  ;-) Please feel to concur, comment, add, or just plain disagree, preferably with photos to support your feedback. Little that I know or theorize is set in stone. As mentioned above, much of what was considered fact about BF history has proven to be "inaccurate" at best, total hogwash at worst. I consider most anything on this topic open for debate and welcome evidence to support any new or different ideas.

The first group will be the WBFNY marked pieces. This bunch appears to be fairly small, with a couple profiles much more common than others. We might guess that these were made roughly prior to 1903 as outlined above and perhaps as early as 1897 (?) although I can think of no verifiable evidence beyond comments made by William Brookfield to base this on.

 Album: Reference Information
 Title: 102 SKEB WBFNY - Different Profiles
 Album: Reference Information
 Title: 102 SKEB WBFNY - Fat
 Album: Reference Information
 Title: 102 SKEB WBFNY - Squat
 Album: Reference Information
 Title: 102 SKEB WBFNY - Others

July 7, 2013

The Big and Overly Complicated Brookfield Question [Reply to ICON] Brent Burger, Spokane, WA "Brent Burger" <> [Reply to sender only] Sat, 6 Jul 2013 07:27:59 -0700

The second group in this study (BFNY) is a frustrating bunch. It is the largest and most complicated / confusing of all the SKEB 102's. I have spent many, many hours studying them and am only able to find "patterns" on a few. I am at a loss to name each style, as it seems there is an infinite number of variations that "almost" seem to make "this one" part of "that group", but defy PID that way. Muy frustration ! This is also my primary motivation and interest in studying the SKEB 102. This area is like a black hole of mystery with factors like purple glass, yellow-green, the move to Old Bridge, and a whole bunch of transitional stuff yet to be defined, it is just a ball of clues looking to be tied together. After much hesitation and an inability to draw conclusions, I have decided to push forward with many of them lumped together in loose groups and hope to enlarge my study group to perhaps get some answers.

- -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

According to William Brookfield Jr., after the death of William Sr., the "W" was "dropped" from the embossing. What exactly that meant is open for debate. Were the molds immediately pulled from use and re-engraved ? I highly doubt it. Samples of BFNY units in my study group could be suggested to be made from reworked WBFNY, but none I have show evidence of simply having the "W" blotted out - something Brookfield was well known to do.

William Jr. went on to say that the company "moved" from Bushwick (Brooklyn), NY to Old Bridge (OB), NJ in 1908, and at this time the "NEW YORK" was "dropped" from the embossing. This over-simplification of their move is grossly inaccurate and is the primary focus of my studies here.

Brookfield began work at Old Bridge in 1906 and began producing insulators there that same year. However, insulator production continued at Bushwick for several years, giving them TWO plants making insulators at the same time over the course of 3-4 years.

Comments made by William Jr. make it clear that the typically light blue-aqua glass so favored by William Sr. changed to the familiar dark aquas and greens at the Old Bridge site. Raw materials were sourced locally and the old Long Island quarry used to supply the Bushwick works was not used for the new plant at OB. While anything coming from William Jr. should be filtered through the knowledge that he was very young at the time the company was still in operation, this tidbit seems to have supporting evidence in a known source quarry used by BF and anecdotal knowledge of the change.

Hypothetically using this point as a matter of fact as a jumping off point, a number of theories can be postulated. I will get into many them in later installments, but while still on the subject of the BFNY embossing as it relates to the move, if we accept this color change to dark aqua as being a distinct characteristic of OB production, a number of examples exist of BFNY marked 102's in the OB colors, clearly suggesting that the "NEW YORK" marking was NOT dropped immediately, and some were made at Old Bridge.

 Album: Reference Information
 Title: 102 SKEB BFNY - Old Bridge Colors

To confuse matters further, a peculiar color group seems to straddle the BFNY / BF marking, suggesting units marked simply "BROOKFIELD" were put into service in Bushwick toward the end of production there. I will submit that this theory *could* be reversed and the OB dark aquas were not made immediately after they came on line there. However, for argument's sake, I will go with the former until evidence suggesting otherwise outweighs the evidence suggesting this is the case. In any case, this color group is noted for it's typically glowing radiant quality of glass, and colors ranging from an odd sagey kind of aqua, to more tealy, to a very pretty yellow-green.

 Album: Reference Information
 Title: 102 SKEB Brookfield Study - The Transitional Color Group

Also of note is a peculiar tall and skinny 102 design that I have yet to find in a OB dark aqua, but is commonly seen in the aforementioned color group that suggests to me this color group was made at Bushwick in the last years before they moved all insulator production to Old Bridge.

 Album: Reference Information
 Title: 102 SKEB BFNY - Concave Skirts Skinny

On to the rest of the BFNY presentation ....

The BFNY group has 3 distinct size groups of units with concave skirts. Odd amongst all 102's, but nothing too unusual in the field of BFNY marked 102's. This lot has the distinction of straddling all color spectrums, from early Bushwick light aqua and light green to transitional yellow-green to what appears to be Old Bridge dark aqua.

 Album: Reference Information
 Title: 102 SKEB BFNY - Concave Skirts Medium

Following up on the medium sized concave skirt units, this group represents the fattest of the lot. It also offers some odd clues in being a BFNY group I have yet to locate in any color but the dark Old Bridge colors. The dripped unit is the only BFNY 102 I have seen with drips.

 Album: Reference Information
 Title: 102 SKEB BFNY - Concave Skirts Fat

Jumping around a bit, this anomaly to the whole BF 102 equation is the MLOD SKEB.

 Album: Reference Information
 Title: 102 SKEB BFNY - MLOD

A group of similar, but not the same, pieces with a taller, skinnier proportion than normal.

 Album: Reference Information
 Title: 102 SKEB BFNY - Tall Skinnies

A distinct group with very vertical skirts.

 Album: Reference Information
 Title: 102 SKEB BFNY - Straight Skirts

This group is very peculiar, both in colors, but also in profile.

 Album: Reference Information
 Title: 102 SKEB BFNY - "O" Types

A group of similar, but not the same units. See photo caption for more detail.

 Album: Reference Information
 Title: 102 SKEB BFNY - Misc. 1

Another group of similar, but not the same units. See photo caption for more detail.

 Album: Reference Information
 Title: 102 SKEB BFNY - Misc. 2

As stated up top, this is an overwhelming group of similars and almosts that has so far defied my attempts to neatly organize into any form. More study is needed here for sure.

July 15, 2013

My definition of "blotting" is based on 99% being done as blots ... as Webster defines as "spots, dots, or marks" in round drill-outs being then refilled and finished (to varying degrees of "cleanliness") .... often most obvious to us in those raised round dots on the rear of 121 Brookfields. The sca 102 CREB is unique (to my knowledge) in being done completely different, ... and obviously so. Hence the bother of distinction. In our search for clues, this may tell us something.

I am trying to present an argument that the dates given by William Jr. were not "hard" and part of that argument is based on historical knowledge of their move to Old Bridge and peculiar color group/s, mold profiles, and embossings therein that hold more "weight" than the anecdotal word of an old man who was but a child at the time. All his other "hard" dates have been proven to be soft, and I think the 1903 date is as well. I suspect the notion to remove the "W" was there. Some may have been purposely removed, but given the overlap of B, Brookfield, and BFNY in the 1897-1921 period, why would we hold so fastidiously to his word that the "W" stopped immediately upon the death of his grandfather ?

Just to throw out an idea here .... it seems to me the demand for baby signals was not near as high as it was for 102's. So far I have DOZENS of different mold types in the SKEBs. How many different baby signal mold sets are known ?

Anyway, ... let's just say baby signals sold on a ratio of 1 to 1000 to the 102, .... could this explain the lingering use of outdated emb'g molds (they weren't worn out yet) ? We know the BFNY babies were made WELL into the OB years. Why not the WBFNY units lasting into the end of production at Bushwick ?

Check Woodward's 1967 report. Tibbits quoted this source for the Brookfield dates, the 1903, 1908 embossing changes, and the "B" marking being the result of WW1 and a skilled labor shortage.


"Duty above all else except Honor"

On Jul 14, 2013, at 7:55 PM, Andrew Gibson wrote:

>> Nowhere did I ever write that the 102's were blotted out. I wrote that the embossing was removed, or defaced. One should not assume this means blotting

> Um, what's the difference? Don't know about you, but in my mind "blotout" encompasses the entire set of things they do to get rid of embossing. That includes drilling out the mold and replacing the metal, it includes just "filling in" the embossing, it includes "defacing" or whatever you mean by that, or anything else. Any time you can see that there was "something" embossed on the insulator that isn't there now, that's a blotout (actually, sometimes you don't see anything, but you still can know there is a blotout -- and just because there was an area drilled out and replaced, doesn't mean it IS a blotout, as it might just be a mold repair). But that doesn't seem to be your definition. What exactly do you mean, and why bother with the distinction?

> I'll try to find a good W BROOKFIELD with the W blotted out to get a picture of. These are tough to photograph, as the blotout is so much lighter than the rest of the embossing, usually.

> If my WBFNY green was made during 1906-1908 (when both OB and BRKLYN were making insulators), then the W wasn't removed in 1903. I'm not agreeing with that yet -- I still think these WBFNY pieces were made circa 1897-1903 (at least the baby signals, anyway).

> And yes, I do think it a bit odd that there is no plain BROOKFIELD with no NY. That actually is listed in the PG, but I think Don said he hasn't been able to verify it. I do believe that the baby signals were no where near as popular an item as the beehives, so I wouldn't be surprised if an embossing variant got skipped for them. Where do you get that the NEW YORK was dropped when they moved to OB? I had never heard that before -- you sound like Brookfield said that in your conversations? I definitely agree that that is not the truth -- nor is the statement that the B is from WW I due to skilled labor shortages!

July 19, 2013

On Jul 19, 2013, at 6:41 AM, Andrew Gibson wrote:

> The Brookfield baby signal from the two part mold was a short lived piece, I think. I've thought 1893 to 1897 is the likely time period, with the flip to the three part mold, with the W. BROOKFIELD over NY with the patent date on back, happening around then and use continuing to 1903. I have not abandoned the 1903 date for removing the W from all molds -- certainly it is possible (and likely) that they started making new molds without the W prior to this. 1898 seems like a good possibility for this, as that's when they incorporated and perhaps that triggered the change. But for those pieces where the W is blotted out (no, I haven't posted a pic yet, but will!), 1903 still seems to me to be the likely time when this happened. I see no reason for them to take the time and expense to remove that W unless they had a real reason to do so. What could that have been if not William Brookfield's death?

> The BFNY versions, with and without dome numbers, well, I've used the 1903 date for the start of these, but I tend to agree that they could have been earlier, perhaps as early as the 1898 date, though that seems a bit early to me.

Let me preface this by saying I have no reason to dispute any of your comments regarding 160's, but I do think it points up how one CD style may have little-to-no-bearing on how the progression worked with another CD style, .. and hence my suggestion we specialists compare notes.

How many variations or molds are known for the MLOD 160 ? 1893 to 1897 is a LONG stretch for a single mold set in continuous use. Personally, I don't think Brookfield was selling very many baby signals to start with, especially in the 1890's. At least nowhere near the rate they were shipping 102's. I think this skews the comparative logic up to the point of colors, and this is where I was hoping we could find some clues. Why no sca baby signals ? I would put money on it that the company had enough stock of this style on hand during the period of sca production and quite simply did not put those molds on the production line because they already had plenty on hand to meet demand.

Upon careful examination, I see no 102's with a blotted (or obviously removed) "W". The biggest kicker here is there are no profiles that carry across the embossing types. The evidence with 102's is that the "W" was never REMOVED, but rather, the molds were retired/replaced instead. Whether this happened in 1903 or 1906 is beyond our ability to know (at this time), and I have no reason to doubt William Jr.'s 1903 date comment, other than all his other date comments were inaccurate.

The more I think about that, the more I am reminded of my old professors' directives to only ask the question you want an answer to, and it gets me thinking that maybe Woody asked the question like: When did the company change the embossing from "BROOKFIELD / NEW YORK" to "BROOKFIELD" ? and William answered: "They moved to New Jersey in 1908 and dropped it then", creating an illusion of finality, when in fact, a more precisely worded question would have got a more precise answer ?

As an example: Did the company pull all the molds out of service and remove the "NEW YORK" embossing ? ... and if they did, when did that happen ?

Because the answer we have been operating with today is based on us thinking this is how the question was asked. However, that answer, as we have it, clearly indicates it was not asked so specifically. So, our own assumptions are creating barriers to looking at the evidence we might otherwise have in hand.

Honestly, I look at these things in my lighted case, and almost without exception, the colors run from light aqua to dark aqua and green as you scan from top to bottom ... as I have them arranged WBFNY to BFNY to BF from top to bottom. Only a few jump the lines, and it doesn't take much thinking upon seeing this that perhaps our old dating assumptions are out of line with some fairly solid production evidence. It is frustrating because to move down this path of logic, all we have to work with are assumptions, and building a case upon assumptions to "overturn" another case built on assumptions seems tremulous at best.

My study pool of BF baby signals is limited. I do have a few goodies, and these, compiled with my general observations has me thinking of a few "holes" in the baby signal timeline, namely a plain "BROOKFIELD" marked piece, and a BFNY marked piece with bold embossing. My 102's show some molds getting re-turned as a matter of repair, and the engraving depth becomes less, making the embossing weaker on the post-repair made insulators. The 160 BFNY pieces I have (and all that I can remember) all have the weak, re-turned mold look. Are there boldly embossed, pre-re-turning pieces out there ?

Going a slightly different direction, .... about these colors ..... if we are to assume the light sca Brookfields (found marked WBFNY, BFNY, and B, as well as the 293 Freds, and possibly the AM TEL 121 (?)) are dated to 1897 based on the factually known construction date of the 293 line, and this keys in perfectly with Brookfield's seizure of BGM's assets, ..... then this unquestionably puts both BFNY and B marked pieces WAY OUT OF LINE with the accepted timeline as laid out by William Jr.

Frankly, I buy off on this completely. The only "out" on this I see is if all the sca-making material was not burned up in a start- to-finish manner and there were intermittent times of sca production. But let's just say they did burn through it and got back to making typical light aqua glass again .... this allows us to put a thumbtack along the timeline that is very precise.

We have another "assumed" thumbtack along the line at 1906, when Old Bridge production created a new, darker glass than that made at Bushwick.

Sometimes the detective needs to bring in a fresh set of eyes to look at the evidence in order to crack a cold case. I am fresh out of eyeball options, but I can allow myself to ignore the dates we've always assumed were golden and just look at the colors in the case. There is something there. I can see it. Can't quite put my finger on anything conclusively, because facts vs. assumptions doesn't allow hard conclusions, but there IS something there !

It sure would be nice if we had a hardcore SKEB beehive nut on board. Maybe a hardcore 162-164 guy too ? As I see it, the 102's probably had the highest production count of any of Brookfield's styles at the time. I base this on numbers of mold profiles, modifications, and colors. But I suspect, like with the 293, that clues outside the 102 scope will dial this in much tighter if we had specialists from the other style groups filling in blanks as their group/s revealed clues.

July 20, 2013

Travis Pattern is a local foundry that does a lot of fancy engraved mold brass work. I used to do a lot of work for the owner and one time at a Christmas party struck up a conversation about their products and procedures. He told me brass is worked at right around 2000 degrees (same as insulators). He told me their molds were made of ductile iron (same as insulators). He told me they expect a mold's service life to be about 25,000 pours before the engraving details fail to an unacceptable level.

While still not definitive for glass insulators, it does give us some idea of what Brookfield might have been working with.

First of all, Travis' product was far more artsy and finished, being subjected to a level of up-close scrutiny that no Brookfield product ever did. Secondly, where Travis did not enjoy the ability to rework their molds (repairs were too obvious), insulator molds could be reworked multiple times and still create acceptable items for pole line use.

So, how long did a mold last at Brookfield ? Good question ! One thing I did here is change my method of timekeeping to reflect production instead of actual days or years. Brookfield didn't have dedicated presses for each insulator type. They had "X" amount of presses and a far greater number of molds that they placed IN the presses (removing another type in the process) and made as many of this new type as they felt was needed (either to fill an order or to create on-hand stock, or both) before taking those molds out to make more of a different style. The molds were NOT in continuous use.

This creates a black hole of unknown, as (using the MLOD 160 as an example) we have no real idea how long that mold (or mold set) sat on the shelf between runs to get any kind of handle on how long that mold/set stayed around in serviceable condition before it was replaced.

So, while my detective work seemed to answer some questions, it really pushes us no farther ahead in terms of timeline knowledge. I don't even get into post-1920 insulator making. It was a whole different game and only muddies the water of trying to understand the older ways.

It is in this light of "shelf life" vs. actual in-production life that I suggest some molds/sets seem to exceed others in service time.

This is my take on baby signals ...

Brookfield sold small amounts of these, but on a slightly increasing scale over the years until their overall business share was hammered by Hemingray in the mid-teens. As a result, the early molds lasted a long time, perhaps 5 to maybe even ten years ? I would lean towards 5, but ..... let's just say they ditched the 2-part mold set in 1897 and tooled up the new set that read WBFNY with the patent on the back. I am guessing there were only 3 to this mold set ? .... and these lasted until 1903, when they were reworked to have the "W" removed, ... where they then went on for more service creating BFNY pieces ? This is an item I am unfamiliar with. Does it retain the patent on the back, or did they move "NEW YORK" to the back ? It seems one or more from this set lasted much longer than the expected "few years".

This is where your specialist status is vital .... they then made new molds that read BF on the front and NY on the back, much like the commonly seen re-turned mold units, only these pieces are only seen in Bushwick colors and have bold embossing ? This is when I would submit that the yellow-green Bushwick color was made, and it appears at least one of those old WBFNY molds was still kicking around to make some glass in this odd color.

From there it is pretty obvious ... they moved to OB, re-turned the molds to create the weakly embossed units, since they were fully automated by this time, shop numbers were no longer relevant, so they were left unattended or filled or retired. This went on to a point the weak embossed BFNY molds were shot and in order to make any more baby signals, BF was forced to either make a new set of molds or rework some oldies lingering around the shop. I think this is where the "B" marked pieces come from ... reworked Star molds that were cheaper to fix than to order up new molds. The profile is very similar. It seems most of the end-run BF glass got style numbers added to the engraving, and I would submit this is likely what happened with the 160's too.

Doubling back on myself, I want to revisit the peculiar yellow-green pieces known in WBFNY and BFNY (bold) markings. For no better reason than I think this odd glass type was a short but semi-consistent (start-to-finish with no interruptions) kind of run based on color/s and glass quality combined with embossing types and what we know about the transitional years from Bushwick to Old Bridge, I believe this provides clue that:

a. Brookfield was not making a lot of baby signals at this point (large backstock, low demand ?), and b. They still had at least one WBFNY mold still around in serviceable condition.

This latter point I would love to review against what you know about the removed "W" mold/s and the bold BFNY molds and colors found therein to see if anything can be learned there that might support or reject my 102 observations. All-in-all, I think we are pretty much talking the same game here, just minor details are different based on dissimilarities between styles and production thereof, and missing pieces of the puzzle/s in regards to not having enough study pieces

Looking at my 102's, shop numbers seem to generally come in sets of 4, with one often having no mark, making for a 4th variation. Memory of other styles such as 145 and 162.1 seem to follow this trend, but I have not the space or madness to undertake expanding this much further on the level I have with the 102's. I would need a #@! lighted case the size of a barn !

Rambling on, I note the WBFNY and plain BF mold sets fall into relatively easy-to-track groups of profiles and shop numbers. But holy cow ! ... does the bottom drop out on us when it comes to the BFNY units, especially when we get into those transitional colors ! I am at a total loss to attach more than a couple puzzle pieces together and nothing really gains any momentum for telling a timeline before I lose traction and feel I need MANY more study pieces to tie more together !

On Jul 20, 2013, at 5:27 AM, Andrew Gibson wrote:

>> 1893 to 1897 is a LONG stretch for a single mold set in continuous use.

> I don't know -- this is why I'd love to have an idea how long molds actually lasted at different points in time. For the Hemis around this time, we have assumed a very short life for the molds (though I don't know the rationale for this). At a later point in time, the 1934 Hemi 14 mold set lasted for at least 22 years, and they seem to have made those puppies in fairly large quantity. Did automated presses wear the molds less than manual? Were baby signals of low enough volume in the early days that the molds lasted longer? Maybe there were multiple mold sets for the baby signal and I just haven't noticed. There is definitely room for more study here.

> Definitely, the conclusions I reach for baby signals do not necessarily hold true for CD 102s. But I would think that they would be close. In the case of the W dropping, though, with the baby signals it would appear that they blotted that out around 1903 on William's death -- and I would assume that they didn't do this in the 102 case because the molds wore out quickly enough that it wasn't an issue for them. The net result would be that the W Brookfield embossing stopped around 1903, as the molds wore out quickly thereafter? But you said you weren't sure if that would have happened in 1903 or 1906 -- which to me seems like you are saying the 102 molds could have lasted a 4 year stretch, but which seemed too long for you to think the dome embossed baby signals could have lasted? The 102s were used more often, so I'd expect the molds to wear out more quickly, and so closer to the 1903 date.

> I do not know the number of mold variants on baby signals -- as I said, I haven't studied them closely enough to figure out the number of molds for these, because the major shape variants follow embossing changes. So you have the dome embossed, the WBFNY/PAT'D, BFNY, B, and B NO 32 (of course, you also have the W blotout, the addition of drips, and with and without shop numbers on the BFNY units, but none of that affects shape much). The B and B NO 32 seem to me that it's possible they added the NO 32 to the B mold, so there is not much difference in shape there. The BFNYs are fairly consistent. The WBFNY/PAT'D exhibit the most variation in shape, but I don't have enough of them to be conclusive about anything.

> On the other hand, the BFNY units come in 3 shop numbers -- 1, 3, and 4. That's it. I would think that would give you a basis for comparison if you know how many shop numbers the 102 comes in.

> While I agree that the plain BROOKFIELD and a purple one are holes, there definitely are bold BFNYs. All the Brooklyn colored ones of these are bold -- without exception (well, some of my questionable color ones are bold -- though that has led me to think the color is Brooklyn not OB, though it's also possible the molds were tweaked after a small number of uses at OB). Interestingly, the 1 and 3 are far and away more common than the 4 in this. All the OB colors are weak -- again without exception. And the only shop number I have ever seen here is the 4. I never could understand why the sudden switch in boldness might have occurred -- the idea of returning the mold set when they moved to OB, as a kind of mold repair, seems like a reasonable explanation. It would also seem that shop number 4 was a mold created relatively shortly before the move to OB, or which they may have made at the same time as the other molds but then rarely used.

> I do think we have one other pin to add to the timeline -- 1909 is when Brookfield started using drip points, at the earliest.

Glenn Drummond

July 22, 2013

Glenn Drummond

Jul 22 (5 days ago)

to Brent, Lee, me, ICON Regarding mold wear -

I had a talk with Fred (the Younger) Wilkerson early this morning.

Another factor that has to be considered in discussions of mold wear and embossing degradation is the materials from which the molds were made. Fred tells me that all molds used in the 1830 - 1890s time period were cast iron. As you well know, all cast iron is not alike in its composition so it should be acknowledged that some cast iron molds would have deteriorated faster than others with approximately the same use. Fred tells me that there was a transition from cast iron to steel molds beginning in the 1890s - generally associated with the introduction of the automatic machines. These steel molds would have had a longer use-life.

Fred also told me some time ago that there was an evolution in the release agents that occurred at about the same time that the steel molds came into use. Most likely the newer release agents would have been less likely to gum up the embossing cavities as compared as the older stuff.


“Duty above all else except Honor"


  1. "The Sage abd Purple CD 293 Lockes date from around 1898  and were used on the first installation construction phase of the New Orleans  flood pumping station system . many were still in service as late as 1990.", Mike Spadafora, ICON 07/15/2013, message 19.
  2. The Commoner and Glassworker, April 16, 1898.
  3. The New York Times, May 14, 1903.
  4. The Commoner and Glassworker, March 10, 1906. Also Undated Letter from Brookfield, found by Glenn Drummond.
  5. China, Glass and Lamps, March 23, 1907 mentions insulators in production at Brooklyn plant. No subsequent references include insulators, such as The Commoner and Glassworks, April 25, 1908
  6. The New York Times, July 9, 1908.
  7. Earliest reference to Brookfield selling insulators with drip points, per Bob Stahr.
  8. The Glassworker, September 28, 1912.
  9. The New York Times, October 6, 1918.
  10. Electrical World, April 23, 1921.
  11. The Glassworker, September 23, 1922.
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