Welcome to the 50th anniversary edition of All Insulators - Crown Jewels of the Wire Magazine! This issues also signifies the beginning of the next generation of the magazine. A lot has changed in the hobby and world since Crown Jewels of the Wire Magazine was first published in March of 1969. We will cover this later in this article.
But first, a short story on how I got interested in insulators. I have been collecting insulators since 1991 (I was 11 years old at the time). I first saw an ice blue Hemingray-42 at my grandma’s house that was being used as a door stop. I didn’t think much of it until we went to the Ann Arbor, MI city-wide garage sale. I saw a box of Hemingray blue Hemingray-42s, then I remembered seeing the one my grandma had. I asked Pete, who went to the sale with my mom and I, what they were (we were into Ham Radio at the time and looking for ham gear and other electronics). He explained to me how they were used. I thought it was neat so I bought two of them. My grandparents then bought me some more from an antique store on one of their trips to Frankenmuth, MI. I was excited because they were different shapes. If I remember correctly, they were a CD 147 and CD 115.
I went with my grandparents to visit my grandpa’s relatives in Indiana and my cousin Kelly and I went to the library and found a book that showed colorful insulators (The Encyclopedia of Collectibles, Inkwells to Lace by Time Life Books). I was hooked! When we got home my mom and I went to a local antique store and found an ad for the Huron Valley Bottle and Insulator Club show. We went to that and I was blown away by all the colors and shapes. At the end of the show Chuck Dittmar offered me one of his sales tables of insulators for $15! By the way, I still have that first ice blue 42 and other Hemingray blues from that sale!
In an effort to shorten this, I will fast forward. As I got older I realized that the hobby and collecting is more than just buying insulators. It is also about the memories and journeys obtaining them. For example, I can look at an insulator and remember a funny story about how my mom and I got it, or remember a show we went to, or remember a collector friend that is no longer with us. To this day my mom and I go to most shows together and have wonderful memories doing so. We have also met many good people along the way, many of whom are, unfortunately, no longer alive.
Just like Chuck Dittmar did for me in the story above, we should all try to do things like this to get younger collectors interested in the hobby. My mom, Michele Kotlarsky, is going to be heading up the Insulator and Kids program. There will be more on that in her article.
A brief history of Crown Jewels of the Wire
Dora Harned originally called the magazine Insulators: Crown Jewels of the Wire and it would have this name from March 1969 to May 1985.
When Carol McDougald became the editor, the name changed to Crown Jewels of the Wire. It had this name from January 2003 to December 2018.
When I took over the magazine, I decided that the word insulator really needed to be back in the title, to show what the magazine is all about. The new masthead on the cover is a tip of the hat to the original name and logo Dora created, but with a modern appearance. I also incorporated my “All Insulators” brand. All Insulators is the name of my insulator identification site. It was called this because in 2010 when the site was created, there was no good reference information available online about any insulator that wasn’t an U.S. glass insulator. While the site does have the U.S. glass, it was focused on U.S. porcelain uniparts and multiparts. It also became the home to the ST-Numbering system for suspension discs. Then later I began to add the GS-System for guy strains (still under early development). It quickly has grown to what the name implies, a site for all insulators. More to come on that. This article is not about the site, just mentioning it to give context on the new name of the magazine. One other thing worth mentioning; you will see the name Hemingray Glass Company, LLC. That is the name of my limited liability corporation and the “Parent Company” that All Insulators - Crown Jewels of the Wire will be published under. So that is how the name All Insulators - Crown Jewels of the Wire came to be.
* Dora Harned created Crown Jewels of the Wire in March of 1969. Dora served as editor until May 1985.
* Carol McDougald edited the publication from June 1985 through December 2002.
* Howard Banks became the magazine’s third editor for the period of January 2003 through December 2018.
* Shaun Kotlarsky became the 4th editor of the magazine in January of 2019, the 50th anniversary of the magazine.For 50 years Crown Jewels of the Wire has been the leading publication for glass and porcelain insulator hobby news, history, articles about insulators found worldwide, show reports, in-depth research articles, meeting announcements, photos, and other insulator information. There is something for everyone who enjoys insulators!
Why the magazine is changing:
Starting with the Spring 2019 edition, Crown Jewels has become a standard-sized, 8.5” x 11,” full color magazine that will be published quarterly.
A lot has changed in the way we communicate since Dora published that first issue back in March of 1969. As an organized hobby, collecting insulators was fairly new and the only real way to communicate with a group of collectors was via postal mail.
Because insulator collecting was fairly new, not much information was out there on the hobby or the items being collected. It made sense to start a monthly magazine that could keep up with the rapid changes! Over the next several decades more and more people found out about the hobby and Crown Jewels of the Wire Magazine. Lists for trading insulators started to appear in the magazine, shows were popping up across the country, and some of the hobby books were being created. The hobby was maturing!
In the mid-1990s the internet become something that appealed to more than computer geeks. It was something consumers were finding value in. It further opened up the world for the insulator hobby and over the next decade things progressed rapidly. We could now contact a group of insulator collectors via email, AOL groups, or at the time, the new ICON mailing list, and we could buy insulators online. Ebay was born and that really changed how we “find” insulators. By the mid 2000’s it was clear the internet was more than a fad and had changed the world, including our hobby, forever.
The next major event that effect our hobby was in 2007. This is when Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone. We could now have all the amazing things the internet provided in our pocket. Fast forward to today and our phones have become, for many of us, our primary way to communicate, bid on items on eBay, “digitally hunt” for insulators on other websites, communicate with collectors on Facebook etc. We take pictures during our insulator hunts and at shows, mostly with our mobile phones. We now have the ability to document our insulator-collecting lives with this amazing device we carry in our pocket. In recent years Facebook groups have become an even more important way for us all to communicate online.
What does all that have to do with Crown Jewels of the Wire Magazine? Well the hobby is mature and communications have advanced. The crossroads of these two events have brought us to where we are now. Having a dedicated magazine is still valuable to the hobby, it documents hunts and finds, gets some amazing research out to the collecting community, etc. Now that the hobby is mature and the internet exists for constant updates to our knowledge of insulators, it makes sense for the magazine to go quarterly and focus on longer form content. My goal is to have regular quarterly articles on each of the major collecting areas of interest (porcelain, world wide insulators, LRI, threadless, Fred Locke etc). If you would like to cover an area not currently served by a quarterly article, please reach out to me! If you can commit to at least a four page article every issue, you will get a free subscription. Other topics the magazine will cover are show reviews and in-depth research articles (hunts and finds, manufacturing history; anything collectors may find interesting). Most of the content in the magazine is subscriber generated, so please send me your articles and stories!
Publishing Dates and Subscription Costs:
* All Insulators - Crown Jewels of the Wire will be published Quarterly
* Spring issue covers March, April, May - Ships March 1st(Deadline for articles is February 10th)
* Summer issue covers June, July, August Ships June 1st(Deadline for articles is May 10th)
* Fall issue covers September, October, November Ships July 1st (Deadline for articles is August 10th)
* Winter issue covers December, January, February Ships December 1st (Deadline for articles is November 10th)
One year subscription options are:
Print (USA) - $40Print (Canada) - $45
Print (Overseas) - $60
Electronic - $30
Print & Electronic (USA) - $60
Print & Electronic (Canada) - $65
Print & Electronic (Overseas) - $80
$3 off coupon for Crown Jewels of the Wire when you join or renew your NIA membership!
Plans for Crown Jewels of the Wire:
Members that get the electronic or print & electronic editions, will, in the future, have access to scans of all 50 years of Crown Jewels the Wire Magazine. This is a long-term project, but I plan on making the full range available for viewing in the members area of the website.
The very popular Crown Jewels The Wire searchable archives will remain as is for now. In the future an updated version of this will be announced, but I’m still researching technologies and the best way to implement this
The future is bright for the magazine and the hobby. As noted above, we now have many ways to learn abut insulators. Think of Crown Jewels of the Wire as a curated archive of the hobby.
I plan on making All Insulators - Crown Jewels of the Wire more of a platform. What I mean by this is the magazine will be one component of it but there will be other resources available to collectors (many for free), such as my All Insulators identification site. I plan on re-designing the directory and adding more value to it. More on that soon! There are many more things I am not yet ready to announce, but I wanted people to know this is the genesis of the next generation of insulator hobby reference and information!
I hope you see the value in the new All Insulators - Crown Jewels of the Wire Magazine and understand how the quarterly larger format makes sense!
Special thanks to my mom for all the support over the years and fun times! Many more to come as we work on the magazine and hopefully get to attend more shows!
Official show listings:
This is the master list of all insulator shows. This list is also the one you see in Drip Points and on ICON.
All shows are submitted electronically using this form:
For more info on the magazine and info on subscribing go to:
For info on advertising: