Carol McDougald's photograph

Carol McDougald's Insulator Page

How it all started

Our oldest son (now 27 years old) was just a toddler when I first picked up some �paperweights for Daddy's desk� at local garage sales. Our Thursday morning pastime netted us more than a dozen different insulators. Certainly, there must be some books on these �things.� Afterall, they had different names and shapes and colors! The Cleveland Public Library housed the answer -- several books by Tibbitts with crudely drawn illustrations and $4.00 price tags for a Hemingray-42! We were on �Easy Street.� I had only spent 25 cents!

Our first collection was purchased from my husband John�s barber in the early 1970�s. He had a grouping of about 40 insulators sitting on top of an illuminated box that lined the wall over the mirrors in his shop. A reference to a monthly publication was found in some of the literature at the Cleveland Library. We traded several duplicates to a collector in Georgia who we looked up from an ad the gentleman had placed in �Insulators--Crown Jewels of the Wire.�

We determined that the way we could best amass our collection was to buy other collections, sell what we didn't want, and hope to break even at some point in time. Unfortunately, we tended to keep everything that was different until we accumulated a collection of over 4500 pieces. We specialized in glass from CD 100 to CD 200. Our first large collection purchased contained 3500 very common insulators, all neatly cleaned and packed in boxes that were used to package two one gallon cans of paint. It took two trips to Rising Sun, Indiana to bring home all of those insulators. I used the common pieces to make candle holders, bookends and coat racks for an annual Christmas craft show for YEARS! However, the collection also contained seventeen CD 317 candlestick Chambers and two CD 132.4 Chambers companion insulators. We still reminisce how we traded one insulator for three and four dozen new pieces to add to our collection with long time collector friends when we sent �candlesticks� to the West Coast, the South, the Midwest and the East Coast.

Integrity among insulator collectors was a lesson taught early in our collecting days. We attended a bottle show in Pennsylvania where we read in �Crown Jewels� there would be insulators. We met Jim and Mary Alice Garrity, editor/publisher of �Cross Arms� magazine. We described our purchase of the candlestick insulators and Jim said he would be glad to trade for one. He told us to send one to him when we got back to our home in Ohio and just take what we wanted in trade from his table. Integrity among collectors.

A new challenge

In the early 1980�s I lost a lot of my interest in the hobby due to family and civic commitments. However, my enthusiasm was rekindled when I heard that Dora Harned was looking for someone to take over the publication of Crown Jewels of the Wire. The challenge of the monthly deadlines to produce a new magazine for collectors still remains as exciting as when I became editor in June of 1985. Magazine subscriptions have doubled, the size and scope of the publication has grown and the addition of four color inserts pages and color photographs on the cover have been well received. I consider it a privilege to contribute on a regular basis to hobby enthusiasts worldwide. I anticipate further growth as the electronic age presents new opportunities for growth and communication.

A longtime dream realized

An out-of-state job transfer for my husband prompted the sale of our large collection and gave us capital to co-publish �Insulators-A History and Guide to North American Glass Pintype Insulators� in 1990. The contributions of many specialist collectors provided the historic materials and many miles traveled and rolls of film developed allowed us to photograph willing collectors� insulators throughout the United States and Canada. An accompanying �Price Guide for Insulators� followed in 1991 and again in 1995.

Collecting today

To keep a collecting edge, I changed direction when we sold our large general collection to specializing in foreign glass and porcelain. My first love is the glass (any and all), but I also treasure colorful porcelain glazes and insulators that have �arms�, �noses� and stripes!

My favorite insulator is one I clawed out of a refuse container at an electrical company on the Mediterranean Island of Spanish Majora. I accompanied collector friend Marilyn Albers on a research trip to Europe in 1991 and we were befriended by the superintendent at the utility company. Marilyn broke her arm our first night in Europe and wasn't able to claw as fast as I. Thank goodness the refuse bin yielded a second red amber CD 680 T-bar for Marilyn!

Moments in Insulatordom

How to contact me?

You can reach me by email to or by phone or mail at:

Carol McDougald
Crown Jewels of the Wire
P.O. Box 21157
Sedona, AZ 86341-1157

Written by Carol McDougald,

Last updated Sunday, March 10, 1996

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