Cambridge Epergnes and Their Parts

By David Ray
June 2003 - Issue #362

What is an epergne? What is an epergnette? What is a candelabrum? When preparing for the February meeting of the Columbus Wildflowers, these were a few of the questions I hoped to have answered. The general purpose of the program was to study epergnes by focusing on the wide variety of arms, bobeches, and bud vases. Not until I had assembled the display, did I truly realize the variety.

For a beginning collector, purchasing arms, bobeches, and bud vases can be a very challenging task. Cambridge Glass Company advertised three different bud vases ( 1 6-inch, 1 7-inch, 1 8-inch), four different arms (#1437, #1438, #1432, #1573), and four different bobeches (#19, #27, #29, #30) in the 1957 catalog. In other references, arms with the Mount Vernon center can be seen in two different sizes. The 1940's catalog shows four other bobeches (#21, #23, #25, #27) that are not listed in the 1957 catalog. Not to mention, some bobeches have four locks, some 2 locks and some with no locks. There is at least one other 7-inch bud vase produced by the Cambridge Glass Company that is not listed in the 1957 catalog. Some bud vases larger than 8-inches have been found, but I have never seen any documentation verifying they are Cambridge Glass. It was also noted that all Moonlight Blue bud vases have had the small ball of glass at the bottom of the vase removed and some crystal bud vases have been seen with the ball removed. Also, there are references to five different prism styles (#1, #4, #5, #6, #7). These are a few of the challenges that collectors face when trying to match parts to complete epergnes and candelabra. Next time to tell someone you are searching for an arm, bobeche, or bud vase, make sure to be very specific!

Now, let's get back to the original questions. What is an epergne? By examining a variety of photographs, the Wildflowers have come to the conclusion that an epergne is "any candlestick possessing an arm that holds bud vases". The 1940's catalog shows at least 22 different epergnes. What is an epergnette? Well, this question is not so easily answered. As I recall, I believe the Wildflowers agreed upon a definition based on the photographs shown on page 258 of the 1940's catalog. An epergnette is " a candlestick possessing a vase that does not fit onto an arm unit". Although the title on page 259 of the 1940's catalog says "epergnes and epergnettes", all of the individual items are called epergnes. This was a big relief considering none of those items fit our definition. Five epergnettes are listed in the 1940's catalog. What is a candelabrum? Again, after reviewing the catalogs, we agreed that a candelabrum was "any candlestick having bobeche(s) or any candlestick having an arm with bobeche(s)".

Good luck finding those parts. And, by the way, I am looking for an arm having the Mount Vernon center. Can you help?