The Cambridge Glass Company Catalogs

By Mark A. Nye
Issue No. 356 - December 2002

During the years it was in business, The Cambridge Glass Company issued a number of catalogs offering its wares to the trade. Today we are fortunate that some of these catalogs have survived and are available for research into the company's extensive production. A number of additional catalogs described within the existing ones are, as yet, undiscovered. Hopefully, copies of these will someday be found. Several of the catalogs referenced in this article have been reprinted and are available through NCC. Copies of the catalogs not reprinted were available for research at the old museum, and will once again be available when the museum's research facility is completed.

The original Cambridge Glass Company began production in May, 1902. while there are indications of a 1902 Catalog, the first catalog of which a copy is known is dated 1903. First reprinted by Harold and Judy Bennett in 1976, the cover reads, "1903 Catalog of Pressed and Blown Glass Ware, Manufactured by The Cambridge Glass Co., Cambridge, O. Sample rooms in all the large cities."

Inside the 1903 Catalog, the title page reads, "Catalogue of Table Glassware, Barware and Novelties manufactured by The Cambridge Glass Company. Factory and General Offices are located in Cambridge, Ohio. Sample Rooms in all the large cities. Private Mold Work a specialty. Our Catalogues of Druggists' ware and Vault Lights will be furnished on application."

Notice the English spelling of "catalogue" on the title page, versus the American spelling on the cover. Also note the availability of two specialty catalogs: Druggists' Ware and Vault Lights. To this writer's knowledge, copies of these have not been found.

It appears that none of the items in the 1903 Catalog were of original design. They all appear to be patterns and items previously produced by other companies that were part of National Glass Company, parent of The Cambridge Glass Co. The reprint of the 1903 Catalog remains available through NCC.

Three years later the company issued a new "Catalog of Table Glassware, Lamps, Barware and Novelties." Dated 1906, the title page remains the same as the earlier catalog, including the offering of catalogs of druggists' ware and vault lights.

It was in this 1906 Catalog that the first patterns original to Cambridge appear. Fernland (#2635) and Radium (#2626), both known to be of Cambridge design, appear in this catalog. The bulk of the items continued to be made from molds not original to Cambridge. The 1906 catalog has not been reprinted. Many of its pages have been issued in The Crystal Ball (most recently in November, 2002). Some eighteen or twenty pages remain to be reprinted.

While not dated per se, the next tableware catalog was issued in 1910. A listing of awards won by Cambridge Glass appears on the title page; the awards given in 1904, 1907 and 1909. Additionally, information in trade journals of the era indicate this catalog was published in 1910, and it is now commonly referred to as the 1910 catalog. This is the first catalog known to feature the "Nearcut" trademark. The majority of items in the 1910 catalog were of Cambridge origin.

First reprinted by the Cambridge Buffs Study Group, the 1910 Catalog is available thru NCC.

An undated catalog, estimated to be circa 1911, is entitled, "Catalog of Pressed Tumblers, Stemware and Restaurant Ware." Its cover does carry the "Nearcut" trademark; the word "TRADE" appears above "Nearcut," while the word "MARK" appears below it. The American spelling of "catalog" is now used throughout.

While most of the items in this catalog would be almost impossible to identify as being Cambridge, the Needle Etching #272 is illustrated. The existing original copy is inscribed "J C Kelly." Some of the markings would indicate that this was a working copy, perhaps used when determining if certain molds could be reworked to produce a new stemware line. The 1911 Catalog has not been reprinted.

From this same era comes, "Catalog No. 2 of Glassware for the Soda Fountain, Confectioner and Baker." It bears the "Nearcut" trademark as previously described, and the company's name appears in the Old English typeface used until the company closed. The title page offers additional specialty catalogs for Druggists' Ware, Table Ware, Bar Goods and Lead Blown Ware. This catalog can be dated by the appearance of the #2719 straw jar and cover; the 2719 (LaTouraine) line was first mentioned in trade journals in January, 1912. Also in this catalog is the first appearance of four figural candy containers, so new as to require the notation, "As these are new and have never been made, we can only estimate capacity." The four candy containers are: Sheaf of Wheat, Owl, On the Hog and Squirrel.

Catalog no. 2 has not been reprinted.

Thought to be from 1913 is a "Catalog of Lead Blown Tumblers and Stemware." On the first page appears the notice, "If you desire some size not listed herein, advise us giving description and quantity of item wanted, and we will gladly take up the matter with you." Most items in this catalog were available plain or optic.

In addition to plain tumblers, of which there was a very large selection, this catalog also offered light cut tumblers, tumblers with white enamel decoration, banded tumblers and the #9415 table tumbler (9 oz) with several needle etchings. Stemware was offered plain, cut, needle etched or with seven different etchings including the elusive Strawberry, or #402.

The 1913 catalog has not been reprinted.

The next known catalog dates to circa 1916, the "General Catalogue of Pressed and Iron Mold Blown Glassware." The word "Nearcut" appears as the largest feature on the cover, and the company has gone back to the English spelling of catalogue.

This catalog refers to the second Cambridge Glass factory in Byesville, Ohio. "The Cambridge factory produces a full line of pressed tableware, bar supplies and iron mold goods, as well as a full line of druggist's sundries; while the Byesville factory manufactures a complete line of lead blown tumblers and stemware in fancy cuttings and etchings. We employ upwards of 800 people in our factories and invite you to visit us and see a model glass factory."

Once again this catalog offers a listing of other catalogs that are available. "Special catalogue is issued for the following lines, and copies will be forwarded upon application: Tumblers, Bar and Hotel Glassware, Soda Fountain and Confectioners Supplies, Druggist's Glassware, Photographer's Glassware, Lead Blown Tumblers and Stemware, Needle Etched and Deep Plate etched, Light Cut Glassware."

Illustrated in the 1916 Catalog are a number of familiar Nearcut lines including #2800 or Community. Six pages were devoted to showing the Ebony line, plain, with another page showing decorated Ebony pieces.

The 1916 Catalog has not been reprinted.

Our next known Cambridge Catalog dates to circa 1920 and is often called "Catalog Number 10," as that notation appears on its cover. Once again, the word "Nearcut" is the largest element on the cover.

By this time the number of specialty catalogs has been reduced to three: "Tumblers, Stemware and Hotel Glassware - Pressed; Tumblers, Stemware and Hotel Glassware - Blown; Cut and Etched Glassware." In all probability, the Druggists' Glasware line has not been discontinued; rather it was being promoted only to a specific market.

Pictured in the 1920 Catalog are such lines as Chelsea (its only catalog appearance), #2800 or Community and several other Nearcut table lines. The coming of a new era is heralded by the appearance of the #1917 or Plainware line. Included in the etchings offered in this catalog are Marjorie, Wedgewood, Adams, Dresden, Martha and Cleo.

The 1920 catalog is the last of the known catalogs to carry the Nearcut trademark. This catalog has not been reprinted, but perhaps will be in the near future.

Next in our library of known Cambridge catalogs is one issued circa Spring, 1927 and added to over the following two years. It is a general catalog (called the 27-29 Catalog) showing tableware, stemware, decorative items and etchings. The original issue is believed to have been thirty-four pages; another thirty-two pages were added over the next two years. The added pages did not necessarily show new items, however.

First reprinted by Bill and Phyllis Smith in 1986, the 27-29 Catalog remains available through NCC.

A new general catalog was issued circa January, 1930. Containing seventy-one pages, it includes the etchings Apple Blossom, Cleo and several others. Over the next four years, several supplements were added. By 1934, etchings such as Diane, Elaine, Portia, Valencia and Minerva were being shown along with the 3011 Figure Stem line and the new color Crown Tuscan.

In the library of most Cambridge collectors, the 1930-34 Catalog (as it has become known) was first reprinted through a joint effort of the NCC and Collectors Books in time for the 1976 NCC Convention. Since that time, it has been reprinted a number of times and is available through NCC.

From 1935 until January, 1940, it appears that perhaps two general catalogs were issued, along with several brochures and perhaps a specialty catalog featuring Rock Crystal engravings. Unfortunately, the only "complete" copy of these catalogs is a microfiche compilation at the Corning Glass Museum's Rakow Library, and even that copy was pieced together from at least two styles of catalogs plus various brochures. This writer has never seen an actual copy of any of these catalogs, although I was able to print out a "hard copy" of the microfiche.

What appears to be the earlier of the late 1930's general catalogs combined color availability and pricing into the same catalog. Thus, under each illustration appears a listing of the colors in which the piece is made, plus its price. Quite convenient for the user, but very expensive for the company since changes would require a new catalog printing rather than just a new price list. This catalog can be dated to 1936 since it shows Caprice bowls, a pattern introduced in '36. It also uses the Triangle C trademark, which was not used after 1937.

Perhaps the largest of all the catalogs is the 1940 edition. Dated January 1, 1940, this was the final catalog to be issued before the death of Mr. Bennett in February of 1940. It was also the last catalog issued until after the end of the war.

This was a comprehensive, general catalog showing the entire Cambridge line, except for two portions: the Druggist line and the Rock Crystal engravings. The former always had its own catalog, and a Rock Crystal Catalog was issued in May, 1940.

Additions were made to the catalog during the early war years, but then material and labor shortages greatly curtailed production of glass for the home until 1946 or even later. The 1940 Catalog and the May, 1940 Rock Crystal Catalog have both been reprinted by NCC and are available.

What turned out to be the last catalog issued by the original company was distributed in June, 1949. Additions were issued beginning the following August and continuing through October, 1953. In late '53 or early '54, catalog pages were issued showing Milk Glass and Ebon items. The catalog was a comprehensive one, including Rock Crystal engravings.

Familiar to most Cambridge collectors, the reprint of the 1949-1953 Catalog was published in 1978 by Collectors Books and is still available through the NCC.

Following the 1954 summer stoppage, The Cambridge Glass Company did not resume operations. It was sold the following September and was reopened by the new owners in March, 1955.

In late 1956, the new company issued its one and only catalog. Making use of line drawings and a limited number of photographs, this catalog illustrated everything that was then available. Within a few months, production had ceased, resuming in the fall of 1957 then ceasing for good by early 1959. Sales continued throughout most of 1959, but only stock on hand was being offered for sale.

The 1956 Catalog has been reprinted by NCC and is available.

It is not known if the reorganized company issued a druggists' line catalog after 1955, or if they used one issued by the old company. During its 52 years of operation, the original Cambridge Glass Company issued seventeen catalogs, the last in 1953.

[Editor's Note: This article was first published in the 2002 NCC Convention Booklet. It is reprinted here for the benefit of all members.]