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On November 30, 1927, Naphthalene Products Co. of Birmingham, Alabama, bought the three insulator presses and the insulator molds from the defunct Lynchburg Glass Corporation (see Lynchburg Glass Corporation). -1- Naphthalene Products had been founded by William Badham in 1922. -2- Shortly after the purchase of the Lynchburg insulator presses and molds, in 1929 Mr. Badham along with H. J. Hill incorporated the Birmingham Glass Works. -3- Sometime in 1929, both Naphthalene Products Co. and Birmingham Glass Works became subsidiaries of the holding company Swann Corporation and later Swann Research. -4-
It is not known how long Birmingham Glass Works produced insulators, or exactly what they made, but evidently it was not long. -5- Perhaps the low amount of initial capital ($25,000) contributed to its short life. Also, its absorption into a larger company whose primary interest was chemicals and chemical research may also have been a factor. -6- While we have no direct documentary evidence that this is the company that made BIRMINGHAM lettered insulators, the evidence that we do have certainly points that direction.
Birmingham's CD 106 NO. 10 insulator is related to Lynchburg's NO. 10 by its unique shape, its color, and where they were both found.
The shape/profile of Birmingham's CD 106 is unique, shared only by Gayner's CD 106 Type IV, Lynchburg's CD 106 Type II (which were reworked from the Gayner molds), and a No Name CD 106 that occurs in identical colors (see below). While they somewhat resemble Hemingray's CD 106 No. 9, the crown shape is noticeably different. It is reasonable to conclude that the Gayner-Lynchburg-Birmingham-No Name designs are related. -7- The conclusion is that almost certainly Birmingham's CD 106, and likely the No Name version as well, were made by Birmingham Glass Works from reworked Lynchburg molds, which were in turn retooled Gayner mods.
It is also significant to note that the skirt width of the Birmingham CD 106, and No Name version, is slightly wider than the Lynchburg CD 106. This would be the case if the skirt of the Lynchburg mold were machined to remove LYNCHBURG lettering in order to replace it with BIRMINGHAM (see comparison below).
Comparison of Birmingham CD 106 (left) and Lynchburg CD 106 (right), showing difference in skirt width, suggesting that the skirt was machined to remove LYNCHBURG lettering and replace it with BIRMINGHAM. Note that these are almost identical color.
We can also note that Birmingham lettered CD 106s occur in almost identical clear-tinted colors as many of the later Lynchburg insulators. This has led some to conclude that most, if not all, of LYNCHBURG lettered insulators that occur in clear and clear tinted colors were actually made by Birmingham Glass Works without changing the lettering.
It is also interesting that there are several reports from collectors that both Lynchburg CD 106 No. 10 and Birmingham CD 106 No. 10, along with No Name CD 106 of the same color, were found mixed together on the same communication lines. -8-
1. Letter, Mr. Loyd to Mr. Gayner, November 16. 1927; Letter, Mr. Loyd to Mr. Gayner, November 30, 1927; Letter, Mr. Loyd to Mr. Gayner, December 15, 1927.
2. "After World War I, William T. Badham established a small chemical business, Naphthalene Products Company, using the naphthalene gas from coke ovens in Birmingham to manufacture items which included mothballs and insecticides." Wickapedia, "William Terry Badham," accessed March 27, 2018."After the war Badham returned to Alabama where he worked in his father's coal mining business before founding the Naphthalene Products Company." The Aerodrome, "William Badham," accessed March 27, 2018. "In 1922, he returned to Birmingham and founded a chemical business." The Air University, "William T. Badham," accessed March 12, 2012.
3. "The Birmingham Glass Works, Birmingham, Ala., was recently chartered under Alabama laws with a capitalization of $25,000. Incorporators are William T. Badham and H. J. Hill." American Glass Review, February 4, 1928,
vol. 47, no. 19, p. 26, col. 2, available at The Insulator Gazette, accessed March 27, 2018. Evidently The Birmingham Glass Manufacturing Company, which was founded in 1920, is an unrelated company. The Glassworker, August 21, 1920,
vol. 39, no. 47, p. 1, col. 1, available at The Insulator Gazette, accessed March 27, 2018. However, Mr. Lloyd notes in one letter: "The Naphthalene Products Co. of Birmingham bought the three presses and the insulator molds and will load them by Jan 1st. They have been making water glass for some time and have been figuring on making insulators and bottles for two years. They intend to start in with a small tank and gather by hand." Letter, Mr. Loyd to Mr. Gayner, December 15, 1927. This suggests that Naphthalene Products Company was already making glass before Birmingham Glass Worlks was incorporated.
4. "The Swann Corporation has acquired and now operates the Hiff-Bruff Chemical Company, Hopeston [sic: Hoopeston], Ill., and the Birmingham Glass Works and the Napthalene Products Company, Birmingham." The Anniston Star, Anniston, AL, December 5, 1929,
p. 8, col. 1-2, available at The Insulator Gazette, accessed March 27, 2018. "Organization of the Swann Research, Inc. to coordinate and unify the research and development activities of the subsidiaries of the Swann Corporation of Birmingham, Ala., was announced here Monday by Theodore Swann, president of the latter company. Swann Corporation is the holding company for various chemical concerns including Federal Phosphorous Company, Federal Abrasive Company, Federal Carbide Company and Southern Manganese Corporation, all of Anniston, Ala.; Jax Plant Food Company, Napthalene Products Company and Birmingham Glass Works, of Birmingham; Hill-Bruff Chemical Company, of Hoopeston, Ill., and the Provident Chemical Works of St. Louis." The Anniston Star, Anniston, AL, January 14, 1930,
vol. 48, no. 80, p. 1, col. 2, available at The Insulator Gazette, accessed March 27, 2018. William T. Badham remained president of Napthalene Products Company until his retirement in 1960. Gathering of Eagles Foundation, "William T. Badham," accessed March 27, 2018.
5. ". . . Birmingham Glass Works of Tarrant, Ala., that operated only a few months, have not been included." Verbatim Record of the Proceedings of the Temporary National Economic Committee, Volume 1, Bureau of National Affairs, Jan. 10, 1939, accessed March 27, 2018.
6. The Swann Corporation and Swann Research were absorbed into Monsanto Chemical in 1939. "In 1939, Monsanto also took a majority stake in the Swann Corporation in Birmingham, Alabama, then fully bought up the company two years later, thus acquiring what was to become a major position in the phosphorus chemicals, and particularly in phosphates which were increasingly used in detergents." Fred Aftalion, A History of the International Chemical Industry, The Chemical Heritage Foundation, 2001, p. 176
7. ". . . there is no doubt that the BIRMINGHAM No 10 come from reworked Lynchburg molds. The No 30 and 36 in straw colored glass are somewhat rare; and the No. 44 with the LYNCHBURG name seem to show very little change from the Lynchburg, VA production. There was a quantity of these, 2 per pole, on a line from an oil field at Luling, TX to a pumping station at San Antonio. We rescued a number of these when the line (along the Southern Pacific Railroad) was dismantled." Personal letter to Dennis Bratcher from "Woody" Woodward, September 29, 2010.
8. "You showed a Birmingham No. 10 (CD 106) in your Research Division (May 1969, page 22). I just traded for one of these plus an unembossed one. It looks exactly like the embossed one as far as size, color, and glass texture. They were from the same line. Bob Vangene, Minneapolis, sent them to me. He stated that the person giving them to him stated that there were also Lynchburgs of the same type of glass on the same line. Has anyone found out who manufactured these Birminghams? Earl N. Armbrust, Jr." "Letters to the Editor," in Crown Jewels of the Wire, April 1970, page 22; available at Letters to the Editor.
A No Name CD 154 similar in color to later production Lynchburg CD 154.