A Collector's Guide
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CD 281, High Voltage Power, Side Tie
*There is some evidence that most of this style were melted down and recycled when they did not sell well.
Colors: Yellow Green, Green (Aqua is reported but not confirmed)
The origin of Lynchburg's CD 281 is not certain. We know that Lynchburg made extensive use of recycled molds, not only from Gayner Glass Works through its connection with William Gayner (see Lynchburg Glass Corporation) but from other companies as well, including Brookfield and NEGM (perhaps through Brookfield).
This style of high voltage side tie insulator was already becoming obsolete by the early 1920s replaced by various saddle groove or top groove insulators. That suggests that Lynchburg obtained obsolete molds from another company. Outdated or worn molds were usually sold to scrap dealers who would salvage the metal. However, there are reports of unscrupulous scrap dealers re-selling equipment back into the market rather than melting it down. While we have no direct evidence of this, it certainly seems possible.
The CD 281 was a style made only by Hemingray Glass Company and Lynchburg. If Lynchburg did not make new molds for this style, which seems highly unlikely given its obsolete nature and the short production run of CD 281 (one week), the conclusion is that somehow Lynchburg obtained Hemingray molds for this style. Yet, it is improbable that Hemingray would sell usable molds to what was at that time its primary direct competitor. This leads to the suggestion that Lynchburg obtained Hemingray molds for the CD 281 through unscrupulous scrap dealers. Still, we have no direct evidence for this, so we are left with speculation and logical conclusions.
In any case, the conclusion is that Lynchburg's CD 281 as well as the CD 306 that was made from reworked CD 281 were made from Hemingray molds (see photo below). This is supported by the fact that there is some roughness on CD 281 molds beneath the Lynchburg lettering, suggesting that previous lettering was blotted out by filling the mold and refinishing it. Since only Hemingray made this style, it would be almost certain that any lettering removed would have been Hemingray's lettering. And it could be assumed that if Lynchburg were using pirated Hemingray molds, they would make sure no traces of Hemingray lettering remained.
Some collectors have suggested that No Name insulators resembling Lynchburg's CD 281 that occur with both No. 135 and No. 180 lettering were actually made by Lynchburg. The suggestion is that Lynchburg used the No. 135 lettering before changing it to No. 180. However the No. 135/180 are actually CD 280 rather than CD 281. CD 280 has a slightly narrower skirt and a slightly larger dome. It cannot be directly related to Lynchburg's No. 180. These are possibly Hemingray products, since Hemingray produced a CD 280. However, the usually Dark Green or Green Aqua color as well as the lettering style of the No Name CD 280s suggest that they were likely Brookfield products.
In either case, it is possible that these CD 280 molds were obtained by Lynchburg and that they made the No Name No. 135 and No. 180. However there is no evidence for this. In fact, there is evidence against it. There still exist production and sales records from the Lynchburg plant. While not 100% complete, they are extensive. From those records, two facts argue against the CD 280 being a Lynchburg product. First, there is no reference anywhere in Lynchburg records to a No. 135. Lynchburg recorded production for early style numbers that were later changed, so this absence is significant (see Lynchburg Production Records). Second, the CD 281 was in production only during one week, and that late in Lynchburg's short life. It seems improbable that Lynchburg would have produced a CD 280 earlier without any record, and then only produced the CD 281 in one very short production run.
Given these two facts, it is highly unlikely that Lynchburg would have made the CD 280 lettered No. 135 (or No. 180), then retooled the lettering to No. 180, both made without any hint in the production records, and then at some later date put into production for only a single run during one week a different insulator with the same style number 180. That would not be an efficient use of resources given the precarious financial status of the company (see Lynchburg Glass Corporation). This is especially unlikely given the fact that by 1924 the side-tie power insulator was already obsolete, replaced by saddle groove high voltage insulators. Lynchburg's considerable effort in March, 1925, to convert the CD 281 into the saddle groove CD 306 confirms that (see Lynchburg CD 306).
Lynchburg production records indicate that 11,230 CD 281 were made in one a one-week production run between February 16 and February 21, 1925. Yet this style remains quite rare with fewer than 20 examples in the hands of collectors. The CD 306, of which only 4,205 were made, while still scarce, is far more readily available than the CD 281. There are unconfirmed reports that most of the CD 281s were melted down and recycled by Lynchburg when they did not sell well. If this is true, it would explain the rarity of the CD 281 even though almost three times as many as CD 306 were made.
All lettering on the molds is hand engraved, with the exception of mold numbers that are die stamped. The CD 281 and CD 306 are the only two styles of Lynchburg insulators that have the style number located on the crown. On CD 281, the style number NO. 180 is located across the top of the crown.
I have confirmed seven molds of CD 281. There is one mold reported without a mold number, but I have not confirmed that. There exists at least one additional confirmed mold of CD 306 (Mold 10), presumably made from Lynchburg CD 281. This suggests that at least eight molds of Lynchburg CD 281 existed. Because Lynchburg tended to make molds in sets of 12, there may have been 12 molds of Lynchburg CD 281. However, since these were reused molds it is not certain whether there were 12 molds, whether examples of all 12 molds still exist, or even if the CD 281 version of Lynchburg CD 306 Mold 10 still exists.
Mold numbers in brackets are confirmed, but do not yet have photos. Numbers in gray are assumed but are not confirmed and may or may not exist. Underlined molds exist in CD 306 but have not been confirmed in this style.
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Copyright © June 25, 2021 , Dennis Bratcher
Last modified: June 25, 2021 9:18 AM