Jul 31, 2023
Swap meet shows what's current in antique insulators
› What: Insulator, Bottle and Collectibles Swap Meet.› When: 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20.› Where: Daisy United Methodist Church, 9508 Old Dayton Pike, Soddy-Daisy.› Admission: Free.› Phone:
› What: Insulator, Bottle and Collectibles Swap Meet.› When: 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20.› Where: Daisy United Methodist Church, 9508 Old Dayton Pike, Soddy-Daisy.› Admission: Free.› Phone: 423-326-9248.› Email: [email protected].
Maybe you've seen glass and porcelain insulators at flea markets or antiques stores. You may even remember when they topped wooden telephone poles.
On Saturday, Aug. 20, there's a chance to handle some of these collectibles at an insulator swap meet at Daisy United Methodist Church in Soddy-Daisy.
Hosted by the Dixie Jewels Insulator Club, the event is expected to draw collectors from six to eight states who will have tables full of antique glass and porcelain insulators, old bottles and other collectibles for sale.
Club president Bill Haley says that visitors may bring insulators for a free appraisal by a Dixie Jewels member to learn their value or simply view the multitude of beautiful insulators available within the hobby.
Insulators were originally designed to keep the wires linking telegraphs and telephones insulated from the wooden poles that held them aloft. The electrified wire was tied to an insulator, made from a nonconducting material such as glass or porcelain, thus keeping the wire away from poles, crossarms or other objects it might come in contact with and preventing the electric current from leaking away from the wire to the ground.
With rural electrification in the early 20th century, insulators were produced by the millions and were meant to be used and discarded. Although they are purely utilitarian objects, Haley says, they can be found in a rainbow of attractive colors and many interesting shapes.
Insulators, and the materials they are made of, continue to evolve. Glass, a very good nonconductor of electricity, began to be used as an insulator in the 1840s and 1850s. By the turn of the 20th century, there were thousands of miles of telegraph lines across the nation and millions of insulators in use. By the early 1970s, most glass insulators were replaced by porcelain insulators. Today porcelain insulators are being replaced by plastic and composition insulators.
Haley says insulator collecting as a hobby began in the mid-1960s as people started to appreciate their beauty and the history they represented. Realizing that these small bits of history were rapidly disappearing, hobbyists started saving the insulators when lines were decommissioned or torn down. Early collectors eventually began to gather for swap meets and shows.
Reference books and classification systems for insulators came into being in the 1970s. Today, insulator collecting is an international hobby, with more than 2,000 member collectors in the United States.
The Dixie Jewels Insulator Club is made up of collectors from all over the southeastern United States. Haley says this is the fifth time the club has held its swap meet in Soddy-Daisy.