2012 NIA Hall of Fame Inductee

 Jack H. Tod 


Jack passed away on September 8, 1990.  He was employed with Motorola Research Labs in Phoenix, AZ after graduating with an electrical engineering degree.  Jack was also a prominent coin dealer in the U. S. and apparently was very successful.  In the 1960’s he retired from Motorola after selling his coin business.  He was also very interested in the local Indian culture and often demonstrated basket weaving techniques. 

Jack became interested in porcelain insulators some time around the mid 1960’s.  He was very inquisitive and started researching insulator manufacturers.   He made many trips East to old plant sites to dig around for insulator shards and do research in area libraries and museums.  He visited and corresponded with managers at all the major insulator manufacturers at that time and they helped him tremendously with what they could find in old files. 

Jack’s first book, Porcelain insulators Guide Book for Collectors was published in 1971.  It laid out a system of identifying and cataloging Unipart pin-type insulators using U-numbers.  The book contained scale drawings, which Jack made himself, of more than 900 insulator styles plus histories of all manufacturers and the markings they used on insulators.  In 1976, he published the 2nd edition of the book and, in 1988, the 3rd edition with more updated material. 

In 1977, the culmination of years of research and examining old insulator factory sites Jack published his second book, The History of the Electrical Porcelain Industry in the United States.  Jack’s curiosity led him to acquire a huge amount of information that was quickly being lost to time.  His own words describe why he wrote the book: 

“This book was also born out of fear – a fear that the vast amount of data I have accumulated might be accidentally lost to future historians.  I might die, or the house containing the files might burn down!  It thus became of paramount importance to stop being curious long enough to draw a line on the research and publish the key information already at hand.” 

In 1985 he also published a book about the more important insulator related patents: Insulator Patents 1880 – 1960.  This is a publication of his entire personal file covering 695 insulator patents.  Elton Gish has taken Jack’s patent research and expanded it to more than 2400 patents.

 Jack started editing the Porcelain Insulator News column in November, 1971, which appeared regularly in the hobby magazine, Crown Jewels of the Wire.  He continued as editor until his last column appeared in the June, 1984 issue. 

Jack helped Marilyn Albers with her books on Woldwide Porcelain Insulators by making all the scale drawings and laying out the U-chart for foreign porcelain insulators.  In her announcement of the new foreign glass chart titled Glass Insulators from Outside North America, Marilyn wrote, “Without Jack Tod’s beautiful drawings there would not have been a design chart at all, so I am most indebted to him for his help.” 

When Jack and Marilyn unveiled their book Worldwide Porcelain Insulators – 1986 Supplement, Marilyn also wrote “Now you will be able to see a total of 230 scale drawings of foreign glass insulators, beautifully done by Jack, as well as representative traced markings.” 

Jack also served the NIA as Chairman of the By-Laws Committee from 1976 to 1984.    

He has been duly recognized for his contributions, having received the NIA Outstanding Service Award in 1979 and, together with wife Caroline, the NIA’s highest honor, Lifetime Membership, in 1984. 

When Jack died his wife asked Elton Gish to present the Jack Tod Memorial Award in his honor.  The award is presented for the Best Exhibit Using Porcelain Insulators and is based on educational appeal.

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