Mystery Object 391: Glass Nails


Quite long.

Quite long.

Recorded: February, 2016

Found: Labrador, Newfoundland

Circa: 1903

Made: Unknown

Material: Glass

Status: Known

A true mystery object. It’s a glass nail, with an embossed “N” on the head.

Here’s the story of where it came from:

My name is Kristen and at the recent Industrial Archeology Conference I presented a family mystery object. The story goes like this….

My father in law’s grandmother lived in Labrador when Marconi was installing his station there in 1903 (Point Amour Station). She was working as a waitress in a nearby restaurant when some of Marconi’s workers came in. In making small talk, they gave her six glass “nails” from the project. She was told they would drill a hole and push the nails in with their thumb and they were used on insulators.

Point Amour was a very early “wireless” station right on the coast, near a famous lighthouse. The radio station there had large towers that broadcasted weather reports and other information via Morse code all the way across the North Atlantic and to all the ships in between.

But there are mysteries we don’t have the answer to, such as: why did they stop using glass nails? Whats the significance of the “N”? Why is the head colored?

There was a company called Newburgh Glass that made insulators and embossed them with an “N,” but they supposedly went out of business by 1872.

Some folks have suggested that the story is merely legend, and that these items are actually swizzle sticks. There definitely are swizzle sticks that look like this, but we don’t have any reason to doubt the story.

Do you have any information or ideas for us? Let us know!

Do you have a mystery object you’d like to share? Whether you know what it is or not, we’d like to hear from you! Drop us a line at


  Click for larger images

Completely clear.

Completely clear.


N stands for… ?

A mysterious green "N."

A mysterious green “N.”

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