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Glass insulators: A fun and unique hobby

Updated on June 22, 2012

glass insulators come in a variety of colors, here are a few of mine

Why glass insulators?

I began collecting these unique hunks of glass only a few months ago. A friend had some in her garden and I really marveled at their colors and uniqueness. So began the search, what were they, where did they come from, and how could I start my own collection.

After a little bit of research I found out what my friend had were antique glass insulators. These insulators became prevalent on telegraph/power lines in the 1850's and were widely used for over a hundred years. As power lines and such went underground the use for these gems became obsolete. People started collecting them in the 1950's, during a time when you could find them on a downed pole or on the ground. It has since then became a little harder to locate these small pieces of history but a lot of the fun is in the search.

Every color of a rainbow

What really attracted me to insulators at first were the colors. Different companies would use varying colors depending on the intended insulators use. The more I sought them out, the more I came across the array of shapes and sizes of insulators. I learned the more unique the color, shape, and condition the higher their value. Some insulators value are into the thousands of dollar range depending on the scarcity. But typically I am able to pick them up for a few dollars, part of the reason I enjoy this hobby, i won't go broke gathering a collection.

Where to find these gems

I first found my first insulators at an antique shop. I had no idea what they were valued at, consequently I paid about 5.00 for insulators that were worth around a dollar. Learn from this lesson, I noticed in every antique shop I went to the insulators were greatly overpriced. I did however find some nice pieces for a good deal but I had a tool. I found a site that sells solely glass insulators and once I learned to identify them I used this site as a relative reference to the value of the insulators before I bought them. Other then the antiques shops, garage/estate sales and Craigslist were my most popular ways of locating insulators.

Make perfect candle votives as well

Alternative uses to insulators

As my collection grew so did the amount of common insulators I had acquired. I had to do something with these so I found flipping some types made a perfect candle votive and a unique one at that. Due to the colors I also found that placing flameless candles under the insulator gave off a pretty cool glow and an individuality to my house. I have seen some people who actually made overhead lights out of them which looked like a pretty cool idea.

Like I said previously I first saw them at a friends garden. She constructed small power lines out of 2x4's and some thin wire. She placed the glass insulators along the the tops of the 2x4's to make them resemble the power lines from the past. Even if you're not a collector there are probably countless ideas that could be found for these treasures.

Place a flameless candle under an insulator and you have an instant conversation piece


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    • profile image

      Roxie 4 years ago

      Great info and ideas. We recently purchased some land that was originally in my family until about 25 years ago. My grandfather had, at one time, built a house on the property. 25 years later, nature took its course and it is all grown up. Through the clean up process we found TONS of these. I knew what they were, because my grandmother had them when I was little, but I haven't seen them in years. Such nostalgia...

    • beaddve1800 profile image

      beaddve1800 5 years ago from Toronto

      This is very creative as well. I like the way you use different color and shapes of glasses!

    • Ionizer2012 profile image

      Ionizer2012 5 years ago from Kirkland, WA

      Thank you Angela, glad to be able to share, even the most bizarre topic.

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 5 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      These really are beautiful! Thanks for sharing and welcome to hub pages.

    • Ionizer2012 profile image

      Ionizer2012 5 years ago from Kirkland, WA

      They certainly are, by far the weirdest collection I have :)

    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 5 years ago

      These are very unique looking, great for collectors.