Marilyn Albers--A Giant in the Hobby

By Mike Guthrie; posted December 7, 2020

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I was going through old insulator correspondence and came upon the following tribute I wrote for Crown Jewels about Marilyn Albers shortly after her passing in 2010. I was surprised that there was nothing posted in the Tribute folder on ICON about her, so here goes. Her legacy is certainly deserving of preservation in this forum for the many new collectors who never knew her. The photo of Marilyn and husband Bill was was taken by Ed Holland at the 2003 Springfield National and was copied from the ICON gallery.

Hobby Mourns Loss of a Crown Jewel By Mike Guthrie NIA #3297

On Saturday, February 27, 2010, the insulator hobby lost one of it's finest jewels.

NIA Charter Member Marilyn Albers (#541) of Houston, Texas passed away peacefully at the age of 82.

While Marilyn had been inactive in the hobby due to illness the past several years, in the decades preceding her passing she was one of the most influential and prodigious contributors in the history of insulator collecting.

Her collection began in 1973, like for so many of us, with a stop at an antique store. There was a window display of many colorful glass insulators and husband Bill gifted her three pieces for her birthday which was a week away. This first "infection" of the insulator bug consisted of SCA, amber, and carnival colored pieces. Bill probably came to wonder what type of monster he had unleashed, after such an innocuous beginning, as Marilyn"s insulator collection would ultimately number in the thousands.

Starting with a general glass collection, Marilyn subsequently developed an affinity for foreign insulators of all types and became heavily involved in collecting, researching, and documenting all she could discover about them. She traveled throughout the world visiting collectors, acquiring specimens, and conducting research. The results of her efforts were reflected in her authorship of multiple editions of the books: "Glass Insulators From Outside North America" and "Worldwide Porcelain Insulators," the first of which was published in 1981. Nearly 30 years later, these references remain the standard works on the subject of foreign insulators.

In addition to her books, Marilyn became the Foreign Insulators Editor for Crown Jewels of the Wire magazine in July of 1979. She continued to serve in this demanding role until December of 2002, a period of over 23 years. The depth of her commitment can best be realized by searching the Crown Jewels online archives where the name Marilyn Albers produces an astonishing 379 hits!

Marilyn served the hobby in many ways other than her research and writing. She was active in several local clubs as well as the NIA which she served as Show Standards Committee Chair and as President (1982-84.) She has been duly recognized for her contributions having received the NIA Outstanding Service Award in 1981 and the NIA's highest honor, Lifetime Membership, in 1987. She assisted with many local shows and was a co-host of the two NIA National Shows held in Houston, TX in 1988 and again in 1994. Marilyn was also a prolific exhibitor at dozens of shows where she consistently developed some of the most creative displays ever assembled.

On top of this amazing resume over three decades of collecting, Marilyn found time to be the devoted wife of Bill, mother of six children, grandmother of 20 grandchildren, and great grandmother to five. She was an incredible hostess to all who visited and, in the finest Texas tradition, was one of the most gracious ladies you could ever know.

I consider it among my highest privileges to have known and worked with Marilyn through our hobby. It is my sincere hope that with this snapshot of her hobby life those who may not have known her will gain an appreciation for the contributions and legacy of one of the great pioneers of insulator collecting. Collectors will forever tread on the foundations she laid.

Godspeed Marilyn...thanks for all the memories!