Thanks to Glen McAdam of Los Angeles, CA for the inspiration for this article. Glen has sent the NIA archives several historical items over the years but in January of this year he sent a mimeographed letter from Dora Harned, the first editor of Insulators: Crown Jewels of the Wire, introducing collectors to the magazine. This got me thinking about other Crown Jewel collectables. Some of these are in the NIA archives and some in my personal collection. Feel free to send missing items and enjoy pictures of this on the NIA web site.
The green flyer sent by Glen indicates that by sending $4 to “Mrs. Harned,” a collector could receive a one year subscription to “the first national journal for INSULATOR COLLECTORS alone.” Areas covered included poetry and humor, amusing experiences told by the collectors, the foreign market, tips on cleaning, club notes, and much more. Dora also argued that “We need to share our information, form clubs and become a closer knit circle as our nearest relatives, the Bottle Colelctors, have done.” I think this is a sentiment still held by collectors. A few years later, this form was revised and printed on pink paper but with the same basic sentiment.
When the McDougald’s took over the magazine, the form shrank, was printed on buff colored paper, listed more specific columns carried in the magazine and now claimed to be “the only internationally circulated magazine devoted exclusively to insulator collecting….” Show were still listed for free and columns included Ma Bell’s Place, Telephone Almanac, Walking the Lines, New Finds and Patent Office.
When the McDougalds moved to Illinois, I was lucky enough to live close enough that I could visit every once in a while. Often I ended up with some interesting CJ collectibles as a result. These usually illustrated how the magazine was made. For example, I have a large sheet with color covers for four different issues indicating that the lead time for some parts of the magazine was over four months. There are also color covers in which only one color has been applied showing how one color is applied over another until the final multiple color cover is created. At some point, the McDougalds were making extra copies of the CJ to give away but ran out of covers so they just put on covers from other isues that were extras. This explains why I have an August 1997 CJ with the cover of the July 1997 issue.
Other collectibles include an auto litter bag, coupons for free ads, business cards, pens and lots of stationery. Over the years, a variety of envelopes have been used to send mail from the Crown Jewels. In the 1980s and 1990s, these envelopes showed a line of poles with four insulators disappearing into the horizon. After this came the current logo with a diamond in the center and the words “Crown Jewels” over it. It will be interesting to see what collectibles the new editors produce.
Click here to see examples of these collectables.