The collector: Shaun Kotlarsky, Graphic Designer, Detroit suburbs, Michigan, US.
The collection: Electrical and telegraph insulators.
The story behind the collection...
I collect electrical and telegraph insulators. Some of my areas of speciality are: Hemingray made insulators and glassware, classic porcelain insulators, colourful glass and porcelain insulators and Italian insulators. If I like it I collect it.
I have around 2,000 insulators and “go-withs”. I started collecting insulators when I was 11 years old in 1991. As a licensed amateur radio operator, I was always into the electronics. I saw a glass insulator at my grandmas house as a door stopper. I asked her what it was and she told me it was an old electrical insulator. While at a flea market, I saw someone had a bunch of them. I recalled seeing that clear one at my grandmas house, and I ended up picking up 2 green ones because I thought they were neat. I went to a local Antique store and saw an ad for a insulator show so I went to that and was hooked!
Why do I like them? Being a visual person and someone with an interest in electronics, it was a natural fit. I see these old glass and porcelain insulators as a form of industrial art. They were made by hand not robots, each one is different. You can even find fingerprints on porcelain ones from where the worker picked it up when it was wet. That's something special!
I think the collection reveals my ability to appreciate beauty in an unlikely place and an understanding that everyday items can be a form of art.
Being from the Detroit area there is one insulator that is particularly special to me. It is known as a “Fisher” It was used on an electric railway made by Frank E Fisher of Detroit Electrical Works in 1886. The line was a failure and was only around for a couple years. There are only 28 Known Fisher insulators I have 4 of them.
Fisher Insulator, Detroit Electrical Works
For porcelain insulator my favourite is my 2 part teal green it is made by New Lexington only about 15 of these known in this color .
Teal green New Lexington
My collection is kept in a large room in my basement with backlit cases (for the glass ones) and non backlit for the porcelain ones. Every one I have is displayed. I figure if it can’t be displayed and enjoyed why have it?
His site for Hemingray Glass Co - http://www.hemingray.net
His General Insulator site - http://www.allinsulators.com
His Graphic Design company - http://www.jiveydesigns.com
Shaun is the editor for the hobbies official magazine, Drip Points Magazine, a quarterly publication of the National Insulator Association.
Images: © Shaun Kotlarsky & used with his kind permission.