Glass insulator convention hopes to share history, love of antiques
Jun 20, 2023, 8:59 AM | Updated: 9:53 am
(Brian Champagne/KSL NewsRadio)
CACHE COUNTY, Utah — Thousands of them once sat on telephone, telegraph and power poles. Most were thrown away, but maybe your relatives left you one. Their tops and colors vary, but most would fit into a coffee mug. The National Insulator Association convention, held in June in Logan, was the place to see what historic glass you could buy or sell.
“The deep blues, royal blues, peacock blues, and then the purples, along with yellows and greens” are what keeps the interest of Cathy Weese, a glass insulator collector from Kaysville, along with her husband, Brian.
He’s more in tune with the historical aspect of the former glass and porcelain pole-toppers, explaining that collectors gather from the Civil War era and days of the transcontinental railroad.
Brian Weese and Don Briel of Providence hosted the national convention in Logan this month, claiming 10,000 insulators worth more than a million dollars.
Briel said they could be worth anywhere from 25 cents to $60,000. A collector since 1990, he said when people hear “insulator” they don’t know what they are.
“They’re those things out there on the power pole, or what used to be, then they start to get curious,” Briel said.
Self-described “Odd Duck” Colin Jung traveled from Sunnyvale, California. Though he had two tables set up at the convention, he said he doesn’t want his collecting to become too much of a business.
“I do make some money on it, but I feed it right back into my collecting,” Jung said.
He can tell you within months when your insulator was made without using a catalog.
Brian Weese said that when better wiring came out, the colorful glass caps became industrial waste, and many ended up in landfills.
“Today there’s people here that their hobby is digging out landfills and finding things that have long been forgotten.”
The convention had some glass insulators polished up in cases with lights that made their colors glow.
Another display had samples straight out of the desert, not even wiped down, and others celebrated the insulator in paintings.
Briel explained that for many insulator collectors, “they are just a really attractive token of an incredible history of electrical and electronics.”
Cathy Weese already had the colors she listed off, she’s now looking for those colors in the various shapes they came in. She and her husband enjoy collecting and showcasing together. Brian bought a blue “castle top” for $1,100 at the show. She said the collecting “is addictive and you just want to collect more and more.”