National Insulator Association (NIA) logo

Thomas Katonak

President, National Insulator Assn.

1024 Camino de Lucia

Corrales, NM  87048


Phone:  (505) 898-5592


April 28, 2003

Office of the Secretary

Federal Trade Commission

Room H-159

600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC  20580

ATTN:  Mr. Neil Blickman

REF: 16 CFR Part 304 Comment--Hobby Protection Act Rule

My name is Thomas Katonak and I am the president of the National Insulator Association (NIA).  This letter is in response to the FTC's request for public comment on the Hobby Protection Act of 1973 as advertised in the Federal Register, March 3, 2003.

The NIA is a hobby organization involved with collecting electrical insulation devices related to the communication and power industries.  We have over 1800 members in the United States, but speak for the much larger insulator collector hobby estimated to number nearly ten thousand collectors.

Over the 35 years or so of organized insulator collecting, insulators have become highly collectable and prices of the glass and porcelain artifacts have escalated.  Along with the price increases, we have had increasing problems with forgeries and alterations.  With prices in insulator auctions commonly exceeding $5000 for a rare piece, it is now quite profitable for parties to manufacture and distribute imitation items.  Many of these artificial insulators defy the experts when it comes to authenticating the pieces.

The NIA spends a major amount of its resources in conducting research on and educating the insulator hobby about imitation and altered insulators.  However, with the dramatic increase in interest in the hobby, we are unable to keep pace with those attempting to defraud the collector.

While we have the authority to ban individuals from the NIA for unethical behavior like making and/or selling fake items, we have little recourse under criminal law to have people committing such fraud held accountable for their illegal activities. 

We thereby strongly support modifications to the Hobby Protection Act of 1973 to include other hobbies across the board, but in particular the insulator hobby.

The attached statement provides the detailed support for this recommendation.

I would be pleased to answer any questions you might have concerning this statement and the NIA can provide experts to address the issues surrounding forgeries and alterations as well as help in crafting any necessary documentation.



Tom Katonak