Red is a seldom seen color in insulators. In fact, the claim that
someone owns or has seen a red insulator, especially a glass one, used
to be treated with a great deal of skepticism. There are many reasons
1. One reason is that making the color red can be difficult and expensive. In glass, until the early 20th century, the process required the use of gold chloride. Selenium and copper can now be used to make red glass but, even so, Donald Carlson writes on his web site :
All colors of glass except red are easily made. To get the desired color, all you do is add the proper amount of chemicals. That's about it. The color red not only depends on the right amount of two chemicals, but on numerous other variables, all of which are hard to measure, let alone control. Some of the more obvious variables are: temperature and atmosphere during the melt of the glass and the working of the glass, relative humidity of the surrounding air, temperature of the annealing oven, and length of the annealing. If these variables are not always in total control the color is not correct.
In porcelain, high temperatures (i.e., 2200 degrees F) and variations in temperature can turn a true red into a darker red or even black (e.g., see the story by Tod, 1987, p. 134
2. Second, colors that are often referred to as red are in reality reddish shades of amber.
3. A third reason is that the need for a red insulator is limited. A bright color like red would attract more attention from hunters and vandals, leading to more broken insulators. Some would say such a color would detract from the environment, especially compared to sky gray colors that blend in.
The exception to this reason would be porcelain marker insulators made in red or with red stripes on them. These, however, are not generally used in the United States or Canada. Robin Harrison found Japanese cables and spools with orange or red bands in the Aleutians and one solid red noser. They were installed during the brief Japanese occupation of several Aleutian Islands during WWII. Porcelain insulators with stripes have also been
located (and manufactured) in Okinawa with red stripes (there was an excellent Crown Jewels article on them several years ago). Caleb Thimell, the foreign insulator editor of Crown Jewels of the Wire magazine, recovered an orange striped one made in Korea that even made its way down to
Colombia, S.America! In addition, other colors are also frequently used on marker insulators. In the United States, blue, green, and amber glass colors were advertised for this purpose. In other countries, green and blue glazed porcelain was used (completely, partially, or striped in color).
Some reports of red insulators come from a mistaken reading of advertisements. Hemingray advertised blue, green and red insulators for marking lines but the red they referred to was surely an amber color.
On the other hand, Jack Tod (1987, p. 134) writes that Ohio Brass
made an order of red insulators totally no more than 300 or 400 insultors
for a municipal fire alarm in a southern state but had such difficulty in
making them that it's said the glaze engineer would "horsewhip any O-B salesman
who ever accepted an order for more red insulators."
Examples of red insulators
Regular Production Insulators
GlassCommemorative and Private Issue Insulators
CD 214 Armstrong pyro-glazedPorcelain Pintypes
CD 234 Pyrex, flashed red
U-??? Ohio BrassPorcelain Spools
Maroon no namePlastic
Peirce 355 Square-D
CD 102 VTS Industrial
CD 162 (William McLaughlin) McLAUGHLIN No 19
CD 257 (John & Carol McDougald) NATIONAL INSULTOR ASSOCIATION / 10th ANNIVERSARY 1983
CD 262 (Larry S. Veneziano) No. 2 COLUMBIA // L.S.V.
CD 269 (Larry S. Veneziano) TRIBUTE / TO / HISTORIC EVOLUTION / OF / "ELECTRICITY" // MADE IN U.S.A. / H & H / ELECTRIC CO / LOCAL #9 I.B.E.W. / CHICAGO, ILL // GLASS [lightning bolts around a CD 269 with BABY JUMBO on it] INSULATOR / COMMEMORATIVE EDITION
CD 726 (Mark Lauckner) CANADA 2000
CD 736 (Frank Miller) 6TH NIA CONVENTION / SAN DIEGO, CA JULY 11-13, 1975 (Amberina red)
CD 736 (Frank Miller) JOE ST. / CLAIR // 6TH NIA CONVENTION / SAN DIEGO, CA. JULY 11-13, 1975 (Amberina red with carnival)
CD 736 (John & Carol McDougald) 10TH NIA CONVENTION DENVER, COLORADO JULY 20-22 1979 (Burgundy)
CD 736 (John & Carol McDougald) 15TH NIA CONVENTION TACOMA, WASHINGTON JULY 20-22 1984 (Red swirls)
CD 736 (John & Carol McDougald) 30TH NIA CONVENTION SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA JUNE 25-27, 1999 (Ruby red)
CD 736 (John & Carol McDougald) 31ST NIA CONVENTION BLOOMINGTON, MN JULY 28-30, 2000 (Red swirls)
CD 736 (John & Carol McDougald) 33RD NIA CONVENTION FORT COLLINS, CO JULY 5-7 2002 (Red swirls)
CD 736 (John & Carol McDougald) 34TH NIA CONVENTION SPRINGFIELD, OHIO JUNE 27-29, 2003 (Ruby red)
Claire E. Williams Club
Bob Fast miniature resin Jumbo
Harrison, Robin. E-mail to ICON. 12 May 2004.
Thimell, Caleb. E-mail to ICON. 11 May
Tod, Jack H. (1987). Porcelain Insulators
Guide Book for Collectors (Unipart Pin Types). Third edition.
Phoenix, AZ: Privately published. Reprinted 1995 by Infinity
Press, Elton Gish, P.O. Box 1317, Buna, TX 77612.
This page created February 14, 2004