John McDougald's photograph

John McDougald's Insulator Page

It all began back in 1968 when I was counting loops and visiting the independent telephone companies in Ohio. I remember visiting a plant manager outside of Wooster, Ohio who had a collection of insulators. I thought at the time, "why would anyone want to collect 'those things.'" Then in 1970 one of my fellow workers on the Ohio Bell staff was selling the Columbus Ohio Telephone Pioneer Human Service commemoratives. They came in eight colors and I could have bought them for $3 each, but I still wasn't interested in insulators.

It wasn't until my wife Carol purchased several at garage sales that an insulator first entered our house. After we bought our first small collection, we found out about shows, Crown Jewels of the Wire, and we visited our first collector listed in the subscriber directory on a trip to Moultree, Georgia. We traded several of our duplicates. On our trip back to Ohio, we stopped to see Bob Gilbert in Frankfort, Kentucky and learned of "the" show that was to be held in Hutchinson, Kansas. We were unable to attend, but promised ourselves that we would go "the" show the following summer. We have attended most of the national and many regional shows since 1974.

Over the next ten years we purchased nearly 100 different collections. Purchases from Pearl Stegemiller, Frank and Margaret Miller, Pete Del Ponte and Cliff Ritchie were the largest collections, each of which had 5,000 or more insulators. From the purchased collections, we would cull pieces for our own collection and sell or trade the rest. Like most other collectors we thought we could get "one of everything." But over time, we realized we had to focus a little more and settled on collecting glass insulators between CD 100 and CD 200. Our collection peaked at about 4,500 pieces in 1982. At the Herkimer, New York national in 1981, we displayed an example of every CD we owned. Of the established CDs known at that time, our display was missing about fifteen examples. In 1983, when a possible job transfer to New York would have made maintaining such a large collection almost impossible, we began to "piece out" most of the 4,500 insulators.

We have had the opportunity to own some exceptional insulators which were acquired through the purchase of collections and individual pieces: CD 134.6 Brookfield "Mad Hatter"; two CD 126.3 unembossed Oakman/American in bubbly olive green and olive; CD 126.4 W.E. Mfg. Co. in royal purple; CD 141.7 Twiggs patent; CD 127 W.U.P. in cobalt; CD 136.7 segmented Boston Bottle in green; and CD 132.2 unembossed Paisley in dark olive green were some of our favorite pieces. In 1988, it became apparent that both Carol and I had lost our fever to collect and that our goals with respect to the insulator hobby had changed. We wanted to publish a book and the sale of our remaining collection would provide us with capital to underwrite the project. Our "favorites" were sold in a lottery with names being pulled at the eastern regional show in Kulpsville, Pennsylvania.

I did keep a few CD 164 signals since they had always been my favorite style. I decided to specialize in that one CD and began picking them up as we attended shows around the country. By 1964, my signal collection had grown to 450 pieces. When it became difficult to add a CD 164, I branched out into CD 106 and I now have 225 in my collection which includes the CD 106 foreign pieces I share with Carol's specialty.

In addition to our specialty collections, Carol and I have tried to collect some nice color threaded pieces we had never owned previously. We have also bought back some of our old favorites none of which were part of the lottery sale in 1988. Our general collection consists of about 150 insulators.

My other collecting interests are lightning rod balls, glass tail weather vanes and pre-WWII sheet music.

I have once again begun to actively seek insulator collections with moderately priced pieces to purchase to help stimulate activity in this growing area of the hobby.

I have been actively involved in the National Insulator Association since 1977 when I was elected its president. In additional capacities, I have served on the Board of Directors as a past president and chaired both the Ethics and Bylaws committees.

I retired from Ameritech in 1992 and began studies required to receive a Masters in Accountancy/Taxation, and I am also a CPA. I received my degree in December, 1995 and am currently teaching in the College of Business at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois.

For forty years I have been involved in barbershopping. Currently I am assistant director of the Elgin (Illinois) Minutemen Chorus and sing with a quartet, the Nickelodeon Sound. Carol and I enjoy golfing, but love visiting our grown sons: David, a student of jazz and musician; Bob and his wife Toni and our grandson Hayden. Contrary to what his grandmothers say, Hayden is more partial to his grandfathers!

Written by John McDougald,

Last updated Tuesday, October 29, 1996

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