Sparking Interest in Old Spark Plugs

Lowly old spark plugs becoming highly collectible

| December 1999

  • The Double Head, Peoria, Ill.
    The Double Head, Peoria, Ill.
  • Rex Spark Plug
    Rex Spark Plug
  • Blue Enamel Stone  Bougie Mercedes spark plug
    Blue Enamel Stone  Bougie Mercedes spark plug
  • Detail from a sign promoting the Spark Plug Collectors of America.
    Detail from a sign promoting the Spark Plug Collectors of America.
    Photo by Virginia Felts
  • Advertising for the Red Head plug
    Advertising for the Red Head plug
  • The E.Z. Clean Priming Plug.
    The E.Z. Clean Priming Plug.
  • The Czar top primer.
    The Czar top primer.
  • The Barney Google breather plug.
    The Barney Google breather plug.
  • The Z.W.P.
    The Z.W.P.
  • The Orswell Coil Plug.
    The Orswell Coil Plug.
  • The Eyquem Nationale, handpainted in France.
    The Eyquem Nationale, handpainted in France.

  • The Double Head, Peoria, Ill.
  • Rex Spark Plug
  • Blue Enamel Stone  Bougie Mercedes spark plug
  • Detail from a sign promoting the Spark Plug Collectors of America.
  • Advertising for the Red Head plug
  • The E.Z. Clean Priming Plug.
  • The Czar top primer.
  • The Barney Google breather plug.
  • The Z.W.P.
  • The Orswell Coil Plug.
  • The Eyquem Nationale, handpainted in France.

I have always been a collector. In my youth, it was bottle caps, then rocks. From there I progressed to Coca Cola items, and finally to the niche I've occupied since 1972: antique gas engines originally used on the farm. 

At an engine show in 1985, a friend introduced me to the hobby of collecting old spark plugs. I had known Craig Solmenson as a collector of gas engines. But the words he greeted me with on that February day were:

"Got any old spark plugs?"

"Why?" I asked.



"Well, I've been collecting them for a while now," he said.

A collection, I thought. What are there, maybe a half a dozen different brands? But I politely said "Really. How many do you have?"