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The Elusive Lynchburg No. 48

Dennis Bratcher

There is a style No. 48 that appears in Lynchburg production records, advertising, and price lists. However, with almost 49,000 No. 48 in the production records, no Lynchburg marked No. 48 has turned up. In Gayner numbering, the No. 48-400 was a CD 153, yet Lynchburg, who had these molds, never produced a CD 153 lettered LYNCHBURG. The closest was Lynchburg's No. 44, but it was a CD 154. There is a No Name No. 48-40 that is a CD 153 (there also exists a No Name No. 48 that is a CD 152, but this seems to be an earlier Brookfield product). This raises at least two questions. What was the Lynchburg No. 48? Why haven't any been found?

In both the 1972 and 1973 editions of Marion and Evelyn Milholland's Most About Glass Insulators, the Lynchburg No. 48 with LYNCHBURG lettering and the standard L in an oval trademark is listed as a CD 152. Also, a Lynchburg No. 48-40 with similar lettering is listed as CD 153.  In both the 1975 and 1976 Milholland's Suggested Insulator Price List, as well as the 1976 edition of Most About Glass Insulators the CD 152 listing for Lynchburg No. 48 carried the notation: "This insulator--although manufactured--we have not seen--The listing as reported."  The price was changed to the "open" category.  In the 1975 Price List the CD 153 No. 48-40 with LYNCHBURG lettering was still listed for a nominal price.

However, in the 1976 edition of Most About Glass Insulators as well as the 1976 Price List the CD 153 No. 48-40 with LYNCHBURG lettering was dropped entirely. Even so, in the production chart for Lynchburg included in the 1976 edition of Most About Glass Insulators (p. 60) the No. 48 is still listed as a CD 152 and the No. 48-40 is listed as a CD 153.  It should be noted that in neither the production nor shipping records of Lynchburg is there ever listed a No. 48-40, only a No. 48.

So, by 1976 the Milhollands seemed to have concluded that the "reported" LYNCHBURG lettered No. 48 did not exist, although there was still some question whether a LYNCHBURG lettered No. 48-40 CD 153 might exist. Yet there was still some confusion about exactly which insulator is meant by No. 48 and whether any of these had actually been lettered LYNCHBURG.

In Paul Keating's 1982 revision of the Miholland's price guide, the LYNCHBURG lettered No. 48, CD 152, is still listed with the notation that none have been found. With insulator collecting having been active for over 20 years by that time it would be unlikely that an insulator with a production run of 48,775 would not have a single specimen in the hands of collectors. This begins to raise questions about the early reports of such an insulator. By 1988, the Threaded Glass Insulator Price Guide edited by Bob Alexander no longer carried any listing for either a LYNCHBURG lettering CD 152 or CD 153.

After 60 years of collectors scouring old telegraph and telephone lines, searching old factories, and digging in dumps, surely one of those nearly 50,000 reported Lynchburg lettered No. 48s would have surfaced by now.  At this point, it seems reasonable to conclude that Lynchburg never produced a CD 152, CD 153, or a No. 48 lettered LYNCHBURG.

Yet, the question remains:  What is the No. 48 that occurs in Lynchburg production records?  While the exact solution to this question may never be found, it might be helpful to draw together some information about Lynchburg and propose some tentative conclusions.  It should be stressed here that these are educated guesses that may need to be modified if new information comes to light.

A good place to begin is the evidence we have from Lynchburg records.  Interestingly enough, there is a document that asks this exact question. Among the existing records of the Lynchburg Glass Corporation is a set of specifications from American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) for "DP Insulators" (DP is the trade designation for "Double Petticoat"). The "Specification No. 4116" is dated August 12, 1920, and was given final approval by J. J. Carty, vice-president of AT&T, on October 26, 1920. The insulator illustrated in the specs is clearly a CD 153. This marked the transition from the CD 152 to the newer CD 153 as the standard AT&T line insulator.

The original engineering drawing is dated May 26, 1919, with final modifications dated August 25, 1920. As the specs state, they were to provide manufacturers with the information necessary to produce this insulator to meet AT&T requirements.

On the front cover sheet are some handwritten notations.  According to N. R. Woodward, who originally obtained the records and researched Lynchburg, the first notation, a question, is in the handwriting of N. D. Eller, the President of Lynchburg Glass Corporation:  "Question: What is Gayner #48".  The answer is clearly in the handwriting of William Gayner, Vice President and Plant Manager: "Answer: We have a set of Gayner moulds to make this insulator Specification #4116 Insulator # 48-400. Gayner 10/20/23." Lynchburg's records indicate that the No. 48 was put into production the week of February 3, 1924.

This exchange gives us two important clues.  First, Lynchburg had the molds to make Gayner No. 48-400 (a CD 153). Second, these were clearly identified with the AT&T specs, which illustrates a CD 153. This seems firmly to connect Lynchburg's No. 48 to CD 153.

But it's not that simple.  There is an additional notation on the cover sheet, in an unidentified handwriting.  Below Mr. Gayner's answer, and therefore presumably sometime after 10/20/23, is the notation "(Our Number 44)". Lynchburg's No. 44 was a CD 154. That returns us to the question:  What was Lynchburg's No. 48?  Was it a CD 152, CD 153, or CD 154?

We can fairly easily rule out it being a CD 152. As noted, it was widely reported in the early days of insulator collecting that there existed a Lynchburg CD 152.  However, the origin of this report seems obvious.  In an advertising brochure and price list sent in late 1923 or early 1924, Lynchburg illustrated their line of insulators with line drawings.  Most of these were taken from a Hemingray catalog (a 1921 Hemingray catalog was in the Lynchburg records acquired by Mr. N. R. Woodward). -1- This is most obvious in the illustration of "No. 31 Double Groove Pony," which depicts the No. 12 CD 113 of Hemingray rather than the much differently shaped CD 112 of Lynchburg's actual No. 31 (see Origin of the Lynchburg CD 112).

 

catalog 1 no. 48catalog1 no. 44

The particular flyer from which these illustrations were taken is from late 1923 (see Lynchburg Insulator Product Flyer, 1923). It was probably used in-house by salesmen since it has corresponding Hemingray style numbers typed in as well as notations of current prices. A drawing of a CD 152 illustrated both Lynchburg's NO. 44, a CD 154, and the NO. 48. The two identical illustrations in the brochure differ only in the dimensions.  One drawing is labeled "No. 48 New W. U. Standard" with  dimensions corresponding to Gayner's No. 48-400 and the No Name 48-40, both CD 153. The corresponding Hemingray style is listed as No. 40, which is a CD 152. The second identical illustration only with different dimensions has the legend "No. 44 New Telegraph Standard."  The corresponding Hemingray style is No. 42, which is a CD 154. The different dimensions match Lynchburg's No. 44, which is also a CD 154, although with a slightly different profile from Hemingray's.

It seems that the drawing of the CD 152 was used in both places for lack of a suitable drawing of either the CD 153 or CD 154 styles, since neither style appears in the 1921 Hemingray catalog from which the cuts were taken. It is this use of the CD 152 drawing associated with the No. 48 style number, combined with the fact that Brookfield's style No. 48 was a CD 152, that likely gave rise to the idea that the No. 48 in Lynchburg's records was a CD 152.

Several features from this flyer are interesting.

  1. The illustrations are of a CD 152, a style never made by either Gayner or Lynchburg.
  2. It seems clear from the notations correlating Hemingray's numbers, as well as the different dimensions given, that the two numbers represent two different styles.
  3. The No. 48 was equated to Hemingray's No. 40, which was a CD 152. Brookfield had designated their CD 152 as No. 48, which by 1923 was already effectively replaced by the CD 153 style. Yet some uncertainty in relating Lynchburg's styles with Hemingray's is indicated by the original blank left in the notations for the No. 48, which may indicate some awareness that the Lynchburg's No. 48 did not actually correspond to Hemingray's No. 40.
  4. The dimensions given suggest that the No. 48 listed was a CD 153 while the No. 44 was a CD 154.
  5. Yet, in one of Lynchburg's price lists from April 1, 1924, the No. 48 is equated to Hemingray's No. 42, a CD 154.

Even with these observations, at this point it is not certain what style (CD) Lynchburg's No. 48 was. Some have suggested it was simply an early designation for the CD 154 No. 44. But the fact that both a No. 44 and a No. 48 are illustrated in the price list with different dimensions suggests that No. 48 was a different style.The conclusion is that it was most likely a CD 153. If so, this would mean that Lynchburg produced nearly 50,000 CD 153 No.48s without LYNCHBURG lettering.

CD 153 No NameCD 153 GaynerCD 154 Lynchburg
Comparison of No Name CD 153 (left), Gayner CD 153 (center) and Lynchburg CD 154 Type I (right).

This leaves us with several possibilities for identifying Lynchburg's No. 48, none of which are proven or have hard evidence. However, based on these observations, we can draw some tentative conclusions. The possibilities for Lynchburg's No. 48:

1) The No. 48 in the records is an early bookkeeping convention for the No. 44 CD 154. However, this is highly unlikely since the No. 48 is not listed until December 1, 1923, four weeks after the No. 44 CD 154 was in production and listed as such in the records.

2) Lynchburg actually made Gayner-lettered No. 48-400 (CD 153) for a short time. This is possible. However, this style was quickly becoming obsolete in favor of the CD 154. Lynchburg had Gayner’s CD 154 molds, which had, in effect, already replaced the CD 153 style. Still, if AT&T and other companies were in transition between standard styles, there may have been immediate demand for the CD 153 style while gearing up production of the CD 154. There is no solid evidence that Lynchburg produced any pieces lettered GAYNER. In any case, this would be highly unlikely considering that Gayner was a well established glass house that was still in business.

3) Lynchburg used the Gayner CD 153 molds and made the No Name No. 48-40 as a transition piece, erasing GAYNER but not yet adding LYNCHBURG. This is possible, although problematic for the same reasons as No. 2 above. Most No Name CD 153 No. 48-40 show no obvious signs of blotouts on the front.

4) Lynchburg reworked Gayner’s No. 48-400 CD 153 molds into the CD 154 style, but recorded the early production of those as No. 48. It is likely that Lynchburg did rework the molds at some point, but it is hard to understand why they would record production with the obsolete number, unless they wanted to distinguish these from other No. 44 molds.

5) Modified combination of No. 3 and 4 above. Lynchburg decided to use the Gayner CD 153 molds but to retool them into the newer CD 154 style. While they were in that process they went ahead and produced some of the CD 153s, either with the GAYNER name or with it blotted out (No Name), to keep up production or to fill specific orders from the catalog, and recorded that production with the No. 48 number. This seems plausible. The No. 48 was only in production for three weeks, producing 48,775. The first two weeks these were made there were no No. 44s produced. The third week, both were made. After that, no more No. 48s occur in the records.

Conclusion

The conclusion is that Lynchburg made some CD 153 without the LYNCHBURG lettering, recorded as No. 48, and using the lettering No. 48-40 on the insulators. Lynchburg had the molds for Gayner's CD 153, as evidenced by Mr. Gayner's notation on the AT&T spec sheet. It is likely that Lynchburg added the No. 48 to their first catalog because this style had been approved as the standard line communication insulator for AT&T in October of 1920. Yet by 1921, the CD 154, Lynchburg's No. 44, had already begun replacing the old standard CD 152 as well as the newer CD 153. While Gayner had produced both of these styles, it was obvious that the newer style CD 154 was becoming more popular. Yet, it is reasonable to expect that Mr. Gayner would offer them both at Lynchburg since even by 1923 users were in transition between the older and newer styles. It is also reasonable to conclude that because of these factors they were not immediately produced but were in the catalog as an "on demand" item.

Nearly all of Lynchburg's No. 48s for which we have shipping records were sold to railroads in New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. -2- The first shipment recorded is February 5, 1924, during the first week of production of the No. 48 (see Lynchburg Production Records). An educated guess is that Lynchburg produced the No. 48 in repose to orders from early price lists and catalogs, and put the No. 48 into production quickly without re-lettering the molds LYNCHBURG. There is no way to know if these were originally No Name molds or were blotted out GAYNER lettered molds, or both. If the style were put into production because of orders from the catalog, and production was "on demand" rather than stockpiled in inventory, there was likely not enough time to letter the molds LYNCHBURG. The fact that the first shipment was sent early during the first week of production suggests that this was a rush job. This style was only in production for three weeks and was never produced again.

While this conclusion seems the most plausible, the reality is that we do not know with certainty what style the No. 48 in the records represents. In any case, whether or not Lynchburg ever produced a CD 153, it is highly probable that Lynchburg reworked Gayner's CD 153 molds into the more popular CD 154. The crown was retained and only slight machining of the skirt would have produced the profile of the CD 154. These would have been Lynchburg's CD 154 Type II, Molds L1 thru L12. Lynchburg's CD 154 Type II, Molds L15 thru L24, which have a slightly different profile, were likely made in Lynchburg's mold shop as new molds.

Notes

1. See Lynchburg Insulator Product Flyer, 1923 and 1924.

2. Boston & Maine RR, 1,050; Delaware & Hudson RR, 6,150; Long Island RR, 750; also Wetmore Savage Co, Boston, 750. Lynchburg Shipping Records preserved by N.R. Woodwards, courtesy of Justin Stoudt. The shipping records are incomplete, since they record only 9,225 No. 48s shipped while production records indicate 48,775 made. It is possible that some were not sold and recycled as cullet.