Hemingray Threadless
John McDougald, St. Charles, Illinois

Hemingray Threadless - John McDougald, St. Charles, Illinois

"The three items in this display tell at least a small part of the story of early insulator manufacture at Hemingray Glass Co. in Covington, Ky. These three items may never have actually been in the same room until now, but they were undoubtedly owned by the same person, George Floyd from Cincinnati, Ohio.

"Mr. Floyd received a patent in 1867 for securing a threadless insulator on a pin by forming a large cavity at the top of the pinhole and inserting a pin that would "spring open" at the top of the pinhole, locking the insulator on the pin.

"While clever in its design, the patent failed to achieve success for at least two reasons: (1) of the handful of Floyd-type threadless that have been found, none has a well formed cavity that would ensure that the locking process would work; (2) the Louis A. Cauvet patent for making threaded insulators had been issued two years earlier, which effectively ended any commercial interest in threadless insulators.

"Nevertheless, Mr. Floyd apparently persisted. The insulator in the display, (CD 732.2) is one of three that were found on a house in Cincinnati in 1993. It is obviously a Hemingray product, probably made in the early 1870's, since it bears their patent (12/19/71) and is identical in shape to the CD 131.4 made by Hemingray. We acquired this piece from Bob Jones, Mainesville, Ohio in 1993.

"We were a little more than curious as to how these insulators were mounted on the house. Bob said they were on three-legged metal brackets, but he hadn't paid much attention to them. We convinced him that the brackets might be as interesting as the insulators. More than a year later he went back and was able to retrieve two of the brackets, one of which you see on display.

"We have not been able to prove the following, but we believe that the house these brackets and insulators were mounted on was the house that George Floyd lived in while he resided in Cincinnati.

"We learned of the existence of the original patent papers in early 1995. They were found by two insulator collectors, Rob Lloyd and Ken Stefan, in a baseball card shop in Western Pennsylvania. The old question, "Do you have any paper related to insulators?" turned out to be magic in this case. We added this piece of insulator history to our collection at the London, Ohio show in 1995.

"If you look carefully in the upper right hand corner of the fourth panel on the frame, you can see where "17" was penciled in under the patent issue date, followed by "1884 expires". We suspect those marks were George Floyd making a note to himself as to how long his patent would remain in his sole possession. We think he would be very surprised and proud to see his patent, his insulator and his mounting bracket on display 130 years later."

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Last updated Saturday, October 4, 1997