What You Find in the Old Books in the NIA Archives
There are a number of reasons why early books in the hobby make great
reading. They contain mysteries,
forgotten finds, prices to drool over, and information to laugh at.
Since most collectors don't have these books in their library, let me
share some of my favorites.
From the same book are the
following two pictures. The one on
the right is apparently a CD 159, but what is the one on the left? It looks like a CD 145, but there is no listing for such an
embossing in the latest price guide. Also
note that the month is spelled out in the listing on the right, but no such
embossing is listed for the CD 159.
Close attention to detail often uncovers other interesting but forgotten finds. The picture below looks like a Thomas multipart until you study the dimensions. That's when you realize that this must be an error or a salesman's sample. Since I have this piece in my collection, I know it is the latter but didn't pay close attention to this detail in the book until after I acquired the piece. Perhaps if I would have noticed these dimensions sooner, I could have been on the lookout for this piece and maybe picked it up for the bargain price of $3-5.
I'm sure collectors who bought these early books were mystified by other
pictures too. Below are four drawings of the CD 196. The first is from 800 Insulators, the second from
Marcy's The Antique Insulator Finder's Collector's Price Guide (1969),
the third from Ed Lane's Insulators that are Worth Collecting (1968), and
the last from the McDougald's price guide (1999).
It makes you wonder if they were looking at the same insulator.
collectors would probably be stunned by the prices.
Marcy lists green E.C.&
M.'s at $15 while Lane lists aqua ones in the $5-10 range. 800 Insulators, listed green Mickey Mouse CD 257s for
50 cents to a dollar. On the other hand, a chocolate porcelain Findlay 182 was
listed as rare by Lane, an aqua California CD 102 was priced at $25-30 by 800
Insulators, and the Maydwell #20 CD 164 in milk glass was listed at $25 by
Of course some information is incorrect, and the "experts" are
still trying to correct it in the minds of many non-collectors and new
collectors. For example, Lane writes about getting offers of $35 for red
insulators while the book 800 Insulators describes what seem to be San
Francisco wood insulators as being made of White Oak and White Cedar.
The hobby has
come a long way since the late 1960's. Thanks
to all those who donated material to the archives so that we could see just how
far we've come. Most recently,
Jimmy Burns' donation of Ed Lane's publication provided the inspiration for this