[Note: This is an older article and some of the terminology and type numbers have since been revised. In this article "style" is used to refer both to CD designation and variations of it. Now, "style" refers only to CD designations, while Type refers to variations of a particular CD style. Also Types ("style") IIIa and IIIb in this article are now classified as Type III and Type IV respectively since there are measurable differences between them. The article deals primarily with the second version of the company, Lynchburg Glass Corporation, which produced primarily insulators and a few canning jars (see Lynchburg Glass Works). Also, some of the information is now dated, as noted below.]
The story of the Lynchburg Glass Works reads like a Shakespearean tragedy: a promising enterprise with the right product in the right place at the right time, with good motivation and management, an aggressive sales program and the right "contacts," but doomed to failure by forces beyond the control of the participants. The well preserved record of Lynchburg allows us a rare look into the history of an insulator company, an opportunity denied us for most other small insulator manufacturers. Thanks to Mr. Woodward's research, we know about the strange twist of fate (or was it?) that left a gas line valve partially closed and condemned the company to failure before it melted its first batch of glass. Such quirks of fate are the stuff of good tragedy. Good fuel, too, for the fires of imagination and speculation. Was the closed valve really an accident or was it sabotage? Could it be that someone purposely closed the valve knowing that it would bankrupt the company? Was it a disgruntled employee? Or was it someone who disliked Mr. Gayner? A competitor who realized the potential of the company? Someone angry because of Mr. Gayner's reuse of other companies’ equipment? The questions and speculation could go on with, perhaps, no final answer.
But the fact is that the partially closed valve caused continued financial problems Lynchburg throughout its short life. [Further research reveals an additional series of contributing problems, including lack of adaquate operating capital, labor difficulities, problems obtaining materials, equipment breakdowns, and management conflicts that led to interference with the operation of the plant.] Even though the equipment was top quality for its day and sales were good, the company operated on a "shoestring" and fought constantly to show any kind of profit. This "shoestring" operation is evidenced to the collector by the fact that most insulators made at Lynchburg were produced in second-hand molds from other companies, molds that were reworked in the Lynchburg shops and retooled in various ways to meet particular needs. While Lynchburg Glass had the capability to tool their own molds, all but two of the fourteen known styles produced by Lynchburg occur in reworked molds; and even these two were first produced in second-hand molds.
It is not helpful to speculate whether these molds were legally obtained or were “pirated” from other companies. From the case of McLaughlin Glass Works we know that the unauthorized use of equipment was a problem. There are also reports of molds and equipment being sent to unscrupulous scrap dealers for demolition but then being "black-marketed" back into the trade. Yet it is just as possible that the molds used at Lynchburg were obtained quite legally from defunct companies. An advertising brochure of Lynchburg Glass Corporation from around 1924 specifically states that some machines "were bought outright and are not subject to a royalty charge." This suggests that Lynchburg was concerned with operating within patent laws.
In any case, the reuse of old molds makes for some interesting variations of Lynchburg insulators. One of the most common Lynchburgs, the CD 162, offers the most such variations.
There are three basic variations or styles [types] of the Lynchburg CD 162 No. 36 (figure 1).
Style I [Type I] was made from the old Gayner molds brought to Lynchburg by Mr. Gayner when he joined the company. These insulators are characterized by a very narrow wire groove (12.5 mm/approx. 1/2") with rounded edges and a thick upper ridge. On most of these insulators there are six clearly distinguishable circular blot-outs on the front over which is embossed LYNCHBURG; on some, various parts of the letters GAYNER can be seen in the circles. There is normally the trademark "L" in an oval above LYNCHBURG. On the reverse the original Gayner lettering No. 36, along with the mold number under "NO.", were left intact. The "190" portion of the Gayner lettering was replaced by three circular blot-outs over which is embossed MADE IN/U.S.A. in two lines. There was at least one mold used for a time (unfortunately, I have not been able to track down the mold number) in which the reverse lettering of the Gayner mold was not changed from the NO. 36-190; on this same mold, the "L" trademark was also omitted from the front.
It is on some Style I Lynchburgs that the so-called "script” lettering occurs. The "script" is simply very crude lettering in which LYNCHBURG, the "L" trademark and MADE IN/U.S.A. are roughly scratched into the mold over the Gayner blot-outs (see below). There are several variations of this "script" lettering. Mold #9 is perhaps the crudest, with the "N" in LYNCHBURG backwards and the lettering of uneven height. Mold #8 has correct even lettering only very crudely done. It is interesting to note that mold #9 was later retooled (to a Style III, see below) and the lettering redone. On the retooled version, the backward "N" can still be seen faintly beneath the re-engraved "N." There is at least one other mold of the "script" with the "G" upside down.
Example of the so-called "script" lettering of Style I (Mold I, G9)
Most of the Style I Lynchburgs have 35 sharp (conical) drip points. However, at least one mold exists in smooth base (mold #8); on this insulator the base extends some 3 mm below the bottom mold line indicating that the original drip points were machined out into a smooth base. [It is likely that a smooth base collar was used.] I suspect that this style exists with normal smooth base, although I have not been able to locate one. I know of no Style I with round drip points since Lynchburg began using the round points later, after the Style I insulators were reworked into Style III's. I have seen Style I only in the medium shades of Aqua, blue-aqua and a sagey-green aqua.
Style II [Type II] was made from reworked Brookfield molds.[*] These insulators are characterized by a medium-sized wire groove (16mm/approx. 5/8") with rounded edges, but with a much thinner upper ridge than Style I. Another feature of most Style II Brookfield molds is a line, resembling a mold line although actually simply a feature of the tooling process, which encircles the upper dome of the insulator approximately 1/2" from the top center (in profile). On some insulators this line is easily seen and felt while on others it is barely distinguishable or invisible.
[* We now know that most original Gayner molds were reworked into Type II before later being reworked again into Type III, so Type II consists of both Brookfield and Gayner molds.]
The lettering on most of this style is uniform and sharp (literally!) coming to a pronounced edge at the upper surface of the letters. The "L" trademark on the front is usually quite small (10mm) (figure 3) and the letters generally do not exceed 7mm in height, often smaller. The reverse lettering is arranged differently than Style I. "NO. 36" is centered in one line while below it in a second line are "MADE IN" followed by a mold number in a wide space and then "U.S.A." On many of this style parts of the lettering BROOKFIELD and NEW YORK can be seen beneath the Lynchburg embossing (for example, molds #5, 9, 11).
All of this style that I have seen have 35 sharp drip points. I suspect that a smooth base Style II exists; I doubt that it was produced with round drip points. Likewise, although I am sure other color varieties exist, I have seen this style only in the lighter shades of aqua and blue aqua, as well as a milky translucent (jade) blue-aqua.
Style III [includes what are now identified as Type III and Type IV] could be called the "distinctive" Lynchburg CD 162 since its profile is unique and easily distinguishable (even from the ground on a 25-foot pole!). This distinctive shape comes from a wider and deeper wire groove. While the overall width of the wire groove is about the same as the Style II (between 16mm (5/8") and 17.5mm (11/16") the effective width of the groove is greatly increased because both upper and lower edges of the groove turn sharply into the groove rather than being rounded. This style is the result of a retooling of both the Gayner (Style I) and Brookfield (Style II) molds to produce a more serviceable wire groove. It can be speculated (and only a guess) that Lynchburg received complaints because of the rather tiny wire groove on the Gayner style and subsequently retooled most of the No. 36 molds to new specifications.
Since both Style I and Style II were retooled, there are two minor varieties of Style III. Style IIIa [Type III] is the retooled Gayner Style I. The variety is the most distinctive in shape since the wide upper ridge and thick body of the Gayner molds allowed more modification. The upper wire ridge was retooled just below the mold line (which occurs almost centered in the upper wire ridge) leaving a smooth, rounded top half while the bottom half breaks sharply into the wire groove. The entire groove was cut deeper (the mold filled) leaving a pronounced edge between the lower portion of the wire groove and the bottom skirt. The Style IIIa, then, can be distinguished by the wide wire groove (17.5 mm/approx. 11/16"), the arrangement of the reverse lettering (No. 36 - followed by MADE IN/U.S.A. in two lines), and the absence of the line encircling the crown distinctive of the Brookfield molds.
On most Style IIIa [Type III] the "L" and oval trademark on the front is quite large (15-17mm; figure 3) as is the lettering (7-10mm) suggesting that perhaps the lettering was re-engraved in the retooling process. On some specimens the circle blot-outs over GAYNER can faintly be seen beneath LYNCHBURG (molds #1, 7) although this is unusual since the molds would undoubtedly be worn by the time the retooling was done. The lettering on this style (and IIIb [Type IV] as well) is usually rounded on the upper surface rather than coming to a sharp edge. This could result from worn molds, although it appears that a different instrument was used to engrave the letters.
Examples of Lynchburg's trademark on CD 162s. The Roman numeral
designates the style number
and the Arabic number (with #) designates
the mold number. Note that IIIa is now Type III and IIIb is now Type IV.
On at least one mold of Style IIIa [Type III] (mold #3) the lettering on the reverse appears to have been done entirely at Lynchburg (as opposed to retaining "NO. 36" from the Gayner embossing) since the "NO. 36" is a little "rougher" than normal Gayner lettering. The arrangement of lettering on the reverse of this mold is also different, in fact unique: NO. 36 U.S.A. in one line. This lettering is off center to the right, "made in" is omitted, and the mold number is placed between and below the "6" and "U." [It has now been determined that this unique lettering is actually a retooling of an earlier mold, CD 162 III, Mold G3]. A second interesting mold of Style IIIa [Type III] is mold #9 which is easily recognized as the retooled mold #9 of Style I. Not only has the mold been retooled into the wider grooved Style IIIa, [Type III] but the "script" lettering was also re-engraved and errors corrected.
Style IIIb [Type IV] is similar to the IIIa [Type III] except it was retooled from Brookfield molds. The wire groove is slightly narrower than IIIa (16mm/approx. 5/8") and the lower skirt below the wire groove is often the difference in the width of the wire groove taller (about l.5 mm). The dome also usually has the characteristic line around it approximately 1/2" from the top. The lettering arrangement is the same as Style II. I am not sure whether it is a characteristic only of Style IIIb [Type IV] or not, but all CD 162 Lynchburgs that I have seen with the "L" trademark placed on top of the crown have been Style IIIb [Type IV] in the higher mold numbers, specifically molds #14 and 15.
Since Style III [Types III and IV] is by far the most common Lynchburg CD 162, it occurs in almost all the colors that Lynchburg glass occurs in: from very light ice blue to dark aqua and blue-aqua; from very light sage green to deep yellow-green and olive. At present, I know of only one of the three "shades" of clear common to other types of Lynchburg insulators: a smokey-clear with a light greenish tint. Too, the style occurs with drip points, usually numbering 35, and with smooth base. There are three major types of drip points: the "normal" sharp points which are actually cone-shaped; more rounded points which are not really round but more nipple-shaped; and truly round points that are generally large and hemispherical. [There are as many as fifteen variations of these three basic types.] Since all three types of drip points, as well as smooth base, occur on the same mold number (IIIb, #15, e.g.), I suspect Lynchburg used a separate "collar" on some (later) molds to produce the points, while on other molds (IIIa, #5; I, #8) the drip points were part of the mold and were simply machined out to produce a smooth base. [Further research reveals that most smooth base pieces were made early, while later production runs usually used drip points. It is most likely that all base variations including smooth base versions were made by the use of base collars.]
A final anomaly should be noted. One mold number (#10) appears to be a Style IIIb, since it has the 16mm wire groove and the circle around the dome. However, it also has the shorter skirt as well as the size and arrangement of lettering characteristic of IIIa. I suspect that this insulator is a hybrid produced with a Brookfield top mold and retooled Gayner bottom halves. This simply represents an efficient re-use of spare parts which would typify a company operating on a "shoestring" and struggling to survive.