"Suggestions For New Collectors"

Explore Bill Meiers Web Site "Insulators.info". This site is packed full of great information and has links that can take you anywhere in the hobby. Become an ICON contributior/supporter. Mail Bill Meier a donation. You will easily get your moneys worth of information off of this site. If its insulator related, its here, If its not, just ask the ICON List. Someone will give you the answer.

Join "ICON", (Insulator Collectors On the Net). It's an e-mail forum that provides a venue for questions and answers relating to insulators. Even if you don’t get involved in the dialog, a lot can be learned from others questions and answers. It also gives you the opportunity to seek help from hundreds of collectors.

If you are going to collect glass insulators, buy the set of "McDougald’s Insulator Books". This set lists all of the North American Glass Pin Type Insulators. In volume 1, you’ll discover the history of glass insulators. Volume 2, is a comprehensive pictorial guide to help you identifying each insulator. The third in the set is the price guide. It's my most valuable tool. It provides an abundance of information in compact size making it easy to take along as a quick reference guide. I use mine to keep tract of what I have and to check values when buying or selling.

If you’re going to collect porcelain insulators, stop right here until you come to your senses! Glass is much prettier. Whoops, sorry for the personal interjection. Since I don’t collect porcelain - mud pieces, nor foreign glass, I can’t recommend which books to buy, but I will point you to one of the best "links for these books".

Subscribe to "Crown Jewels of the Wire Magazine" It is the only magazine devoted entirely to the hobby. Every issue is full of articles on insulators, glass and porcelain from all over the world. Recent additions have included an array of super color photo’s to go along with these articles. Also included are ads to buy, sell or trade insulators, along with a comprehensive list of additional resources for more information about the hobby.

Join your "Insulator Club" . This will give you the opportunity to meet the other collectors in your area. You’ll find many of these people really enjoy sharing their knowledge and experiences. Take the opportunities to visit and see their collections. Many club meetings are held in conjunction with the club swap meets.

Attend the "Shows". If you are looking to start or add to a collection, this is a great place to do it. They offer a great array of insulators suited to every budget. Many of the shows even have a table with free insulators offered to the new collectors in an effort to promote the hobby. Attend the regional or national shows. You’ll never believe how many different insulators exist in such a rainbow of colors and shapes. You’ll also be amazed to find just how many other fellow collectors are out there. Visit the display area, you’ll be able to get a glimpse of rare pieces and collections you can not see anywhere else.

Not to coin a phrase, but, Be an educated consumer. Yes, there are FAKES in this hobby. Yes, there are people who only care about taking your money. Yes, they will alter and misrepresent an insulator just to get your money. But if you have done your homework, you can protect yourself from these con's. Make a point of visiting the NIA's fake and altered insulator display at one of the shows. Take the time to learning about the fakes and what to look for, BEFORE you buy. These con's represent a VERY small percentage of the people in this hobby. But you need to know they are out there.

Once you start collecting, try deciding what you want to collect (or specialize in). Trying to collect one of every insulator doesn’t work. You don’t have enough room! I know, I’ve tried!

Explore the Internet. Many collectors have designed web page sites about insulators. The "ICON web ring" provides links to an array of these pages.

Join the "National Insulator Association". Show your support of the hobby. The NIA provides it members with an organized structure to promote education, regional and national events and awards, guidelines and ethics among the hobby, along with an overall forum for the promoting interest in hobby.

Explore the wild. Search out the abandon lines in your area. Not all the jewels have been found. Yours may just be waiting to be discovered. Just a word of caution; searching in the wild has its hazards. Take the time to plan and ensure your safety. Avoid the hazards; live wires, fast moving trains, falling off a pole or being caught trespassing can bring things to a quick end.

Like many new collectors, you will be amazed at how your collection will grow. It will start with a few catching the sunlight on the windowsill. Then, you’ll be adding a shelf here or there. After just a short time you’ll become very proficient at hanging shelves, shelf after shelf, after shelf, after shelf. The house and garage will soon begin to fill with insulators. Soon, you’ll be experimenting with furniture making, lighted display shelves and backlit display cases. Next you’ll be out of the house and into the yard, cross arms and poles full of insulators. Suspensions hanging from the eaves and trees. Power pieces turned into strange lawn ornaments. BE WARNED, you can not control it. You have contracted the affliction called “Insulatoritus” for which there’s no known cure.

But seriously, enjoy the hobby. As you travel along its path you will be amazed at what you can accumulate. Both in the way of insulators and in the lasting friendships you’ll make.

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    by Russ Frank
    May 2008