Monday, May 21, 2012

Zine Review: Crown Jewels of the Wire

Who’d a thunk it? I’ve read all kinds of zines dealing with esoteric subject matter but this one really surprised me. Crown Jewels of the Wire (published since 1969) is a magazine for insulator collectors. I didn’t even know that people collected insulators! Insulators were first used extensively in the mid-1840s with the invention of the telegraph. They were necessary to prevent the electrical current passing through the wire from grounding out on the pole and making the line unusable. The first insulators were a beeswax soaked rag wrapped around the wire. They worked well in the dry laboratory but soon broke down when exposed to the weather. The next concept was a glass knob, which looked much like a bureau knob one might still find. By 1860, original insulator models could be found in both porcelain and glass. While glass was more common from the beginning for telegraph and telephone line insulation, porcelain would later gain a firm foothold as the preferred material for insulating high voltage power lines. Over time, glass manufacturers would produce hundreds of designs; millions of insulators were made of glass and porcelain, then later of rubber, plastic and other composite materials.

The February 2012 issue of Crown Jewels of the Wire is packed with photographs of colorful insulators and well written articles. There is even an article about foreign postage stamps that featured insulators in their artwork. There are descriptions of rare insulators, letters to the editor, even some comics! This zine is an education unto itself & highly recommended for those of us who enjoy curiosities & learning about new topics – and who knows? You just might find a new hobby or passion. For more information see

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