Phone - 440-548-5408

Not yet Registered in our auction system? Click "Register" near top of auction homepage.

Registered  but forgot password?  Click "Sign In" and then "Forgot Password."

Bid increments change at the following levels:

$2 from $0 up to $20.... $2, $4, $6, $8, etc.                $5 from $20 up to $50.....  $20, $25, $30, $35, $40,  etc.               $10 from $50 up to $250....... $50, $60, $70, $80, etc.

$25 from $250 up to $750..... $250, $275, $300, $325, etc.                    $50 from $750 up to $1,500.... $750, $800, $850, $900 etc.

$100 from $1500 up to $3,000... $1500, $1600, $1700, $1800 etc.        $250 from $3000 up to $6,000.... $3000, $3250, $3500,  etc.

$500 from $6000 up to $12,000....  $6000, $6500, $7000,  etc.              $1000 from $12,000 up to $30,000            $2500 from $30,000 & up


Pole Top Discoveries' Event #2404 

Invoices should be completed by mid afternoon Saturday


× Bidding has ended on this item.
12.00%  Buyer's Premium
This Auction Uses Proxy Bidding.

#3111       780      "Bureau Knob."       Aqua.

  Lot # 3111
Listing Image
  • Lot # 3111
  • System ID # 691016
  • End Date
  • Start Date

#3111       780       Unmarked.       Aqua.

Known as the "Bureau Knob," which was likely the first pin-type glass insulator used in America. 

The 1844 experimental government telegraph line between Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland used crude, non-pintype insulation which was not successful, and the bureau knobs followed shortly thereafter.  Ezra Cornell, from Ithaca, N.Y. was involved with both the 1844 experimental government line, and the commercial line built by the Magnetic Telegraph Company between Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New York City the following year.

Describing the 1845 Magnetic line, James D.Reid, in his book The Telegraph in America states: “Mr. Cornell personally directed the construction from Somerville to Fort Lee. The poles were small and 200 feet apart. An arm thirty inches long, with a pin at each end, bearing a glass bureau knob, an insulation proposed by Mr. Cornell and approved by Prof. Henry, was secured to the end of each pole.”

A New York State glasshouse probably made the first 780 bureau knobs. Early correspondence, dated September, 1845, shows an individual supplying Cornell with insulators. The writer states: “4 boxes Glass Caps, about 120 dozen. Hope they will prove better than the others. P.S. The Glass Caps are 4 dollars per gross.”

This particular example was found over 40 years ago by bottle diggers in Norristown, Pennsylvania.  The diggers were excavating an early privy site when the historical relic was discovered.  Norristown is just outside Philadelphia, and on the 1845 Magnetic Telegraph Company route between Philadelphia and New York.  There is great historical significance since it was found on the route of the pioneer Magnetic line.

Shallow flakes and chips on the base and base edge (see photos).  One larger chip up from the base (as seen in third photo).

Fourth image is a copy of the illustration described above, from Reid's book The Telegraph in America.