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Carnival Glass Insulators

The term "carnival glass" insulator results from the fact that such insulators were treated with a thin coating of tin oxide, which was the same process used on glassware given out at carnivals in the 1920's and 1930's. Carnival Glass has an iridized surface treatment, made by exposing the newly formed hot pressed glass to sprays, fumes and vapours from heated metallic oxides. These form a lustrous coating at the surface of the glass that looks like a rainbow of colors. Carnival Glass was originally produced between 1905-1930. The name "Carnival Glass" was not used by the original manufacturers, who had all kinds of titles for it like "Iridill" and "Rainbow Lustre". Updated Item

Documentation has shown several reasons for producing the carnival insulators. They are:

There were several companies that produced insulators with carnival coatings. The main ones were Hemingray and Pyrex. Whitall Tatum also produced one style of insulator with a carnival coating. There are a number of no name or no embossing insulators in carnival as well. All of these have been attributed to the Hemingray company. Below is a table showing the various CDs (styles) produced by each company that had carnival coatings. Most of the time the carnival coating was applied over clear glass, but there are a few types that had a carnival coating over a coloured glass base, such as light aqua, ice green, or ice blue.

Manufacturer CD Numbers
Hemingray 122.4, 137, 142, 154, 162, 164, 168, 214, 230, 230.1, 232, 239, 252, 281, 1052
No Name /
No Embossing
118, 142, 142.4, 1052
Pyrex 194.5, 233, 234, 235, 320, 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328.2
Whitall Tatum 154

Caution: Starting in the 1960's, some collectors began treating insulators with carnival coatings after they were taken out of service. The CD 257 Hemingray clear "Mickey Mouse" insulators are the best example. No carnival CD 257 is known to be real, although they are still popular with collectors due to their attractive look. There are some problematic CD's that are known in original factory carnival as well as later application. These include the CD 230 and CD 168 Hemingrays. Experienced collectors can usually make a good judgment between original and later carnival coatings. It is also believed that Hemingray insulators that are brass bushed (Metal thimble in the pinhole) are probably original as reheating tended to break these. (Credit: Updated Item

NOTE: This page uses a specialized downloadable font file to show the proper insulator markings and symbols. These fonts only work properly with Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. In other browsers, you will see odd letters or symbols instead of the actual insulator markings.

Click on the Photograph icon to view a photograph of the insulator.

Top of PageHemingray Carnival / Opalescent Insulators

Hemingray Carnivals

Top of PagePyrex Carnival Insulators

Small Pyrex Carnivals
Large Pyrex Carnivals
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