Ceramic Insulator from an unknown maker with a 3 1/2 inch diameter base. Bottom rim is slightly chipped and top has minor damage.
Long before the modern era of computers, cellphones, smartphones, fiber-optic cables and the internet, long distance electric/electronic communication consisted primarily of the telegraph and telephone. The electric telegraph (in the United States) was developed by Samuel Morse in 1837, and the first message was sent by Morse in 1838. The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. As time went on, networks of “open wire” telegraph lines, and later, telephone lines, were developed and built throughout the country, and these lines required the installation of insulators. Both glass and porcelain insulators have been used since the early days of the telegraph, but glass insulators were generally less expensive than porcelain, and were normally used for lower-voltage applications. The period from 1875 to 1930 might generally be thought of as the “heyday” of the glass insulator. Hundreds of millions of these glass “bells” were produced during this time. During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s many of these lines were dismantled as technology advanced. Today, vintage glass insulators are a collectible item in their own right, often saved, studied and displayed along with antique bottles, tableware and other early glassware.