Got Milk?

By Georgia G. Otten
April 2003 - Issue #360

The Cambridge Glass Company produced some of the most colorful glass in the industry and was rivaled by few. While some of the Cambridge colors were in production for long periods of time, such as Emerald (early light) and Crown Tuscan, others were introduced and discontinued for one reason or another. Some of the shorter lived colors were Cobalt 1, Rubina, Avocado and Heatherbloom.

Two of the last colors introduced by Cambridge were Ebon and Milk. These two colors were introduced January or February, 1954, and were in production for approximately six months until the initial closing of the factory in July 1954. There is no mention of these colors during the reopen period.

As mentioned and discussed often, glass collections vary from collector to collector. Cambridge colors are of interest to most of the collectors with personal preferences being made within that category. Generally speaking I believe Cambridge collectors refer to the color Milk as being Cambridge 'milk glass.' So, got milk?

I found two definitions of milk glass. The first from the Glass Encyclopedia: "Milk Glass is a term used by glass-makers for opaque white glass. The German term is milch-glass, the Italian term is lattimo (from latte, milk) and the French term is blanc-de-lait (milk white) or verre-de-lait." A second definition was found in an article written by Christina Van Ginkel: " Hold it up to the light. If a shimmery line of orange or purple appears around the rim, it's milk glass. If not, it's glass dyed white." Interesting thoughts!

The Colors in Cambridge Glass describes the Cambridge color: "Milk is a white opaque color with no opalescence and a somewhat lifeless color which achieves it's beauty from the high shine that it provides." I see no problem with calling the white glass made by Cambridge, milk glass.

All the items produced by Cambridge Glass in Milk were given a number preceded by the letter "W." I will take a leap of faith here and say that letter designates 'white.' While the color Milk was a new color in 1954, the molds chosen for the items poured in this color were not new. Cambridge used molds from the Nearcut era as well as molds from the thirties, forties and fifties.

By using catalog reprints available I found pictures of over eighty items shown in Milk. The largest representation from an existing line is 21 items poured in the Mt. Vernon pattern. The next largest group will be found in the Seashell line with 12 items. After that, other molds are represented by six or fewer items from a line. There are two items I know to exist that were not shown in the catalogs that I used. One is the Bridge hound and the other is the Caprice Candle Reflector. There are some items shown on catalog pages that are elusive to say the least. It is possible that some of the items shown were never put into production but were feasibility items only. However, since there are pictures of items ... it is possible there are one or two someplace. When you find the arms parts in Milk, please let me know!

It is interesting to me that Cambridge Glass Company started its major color production in the 1920's with the wonderful opaque colors, filled the 1930's and 1940's with the transparent colors and during what would be some of the last production in the 1950's, introduced two new opaques!

So my question remains, Got Milk?

From The Glass Encyclopedia: (written by Christina VanGinkel)

Milk glass received its name for its color, a 'milky' white. It was intended to look like porcelain, but not be as expensive to produce. This coloring is important when determining an old piece from a newer, reproduced piece. The older milk glass can often be picked out of a whole table of newer items by looking at the edges of the item. Older pieces appear almost transparent, especially on the edges, and light will show through the piece. Newer pieces are 'white' opaque, light not even showing through on the edges. Many fine examples date all the way through as recently as the present day though. Older pieces can be traced back to the 1500's, but most of what is collected today is from the 1700's and on. The name 'Milk Glass' also refers to other colored glass, which although it may be of color, is still 'milky' in color. Blue milk glass is very popular among collectors, with most blue pieces coming from France. Some pieces have painting on them, often common among sets, such as a dresser set, or salt and peppers. Never remove paint from a piece, even if much of it is worn, if you intend to try and 'date' the piece, as the paint may indeed be the key to the age of the item.