Yukon Etch: Three Great Years - 1935-1938

By Mike Strebler
Issue No. 415 - February 2008

The Strebler collection has had some portion in storage from the early 1990s until this past winter when I finally got all the glass out of boxes and into the open. The most interesting aspect was getting a sense of what we had collected over the years. I expected certain collections to have a significant presence; others were a pleasant surprise as the pieces assembled. Some I had sort of lost interest in and others grabbed my fancy. The one collection which really stood out for me was the Yukon collection.

Yukon is a Cambridge etch completed with the same process as any of the other acid etched lines, such as Rosepoint. Yukon was introduced in 1935. By 1939, it was out of production for an overall run of about three years. This means that every piece of etched Yukon is between 68 and 72 years old. Judging by the scarcity of pieces with this etch, it is doubtful that it was among the popular sellers for Cambridge.

It wasn't until 1980 that Doris Isaacs wrote the initial research article on Yukon which led to its discovery. NCC had access to a catalog for the company from 1930-34 and a 1940 catalog which created a perfect hole for the Yukon etch. Doris's article was seminal as she proved the etch was produced by Cambridge and that the name was Yukon. Her Rosetta stone was a piece with the triangle C on the bottom and a factory label which bore the name "Yukon." The only other research article I came across was written by Phyllis Smith in 1984. Doris only had access to a couple of pieces known at the time of her research. Phyllis's research described the 1402 Tally-Ho stem line and a little known 3112 line Yukon stems as the scope of lines on which Yukon could be found. Some twenty years later, their research results are fascinating. The pieces Doris found are pretty unique and Phyllis accurately determined the lines on which most Yukon is found today. Phyllis reached her conclusions from research materials, as she didn't have many examples to go by. She did have a photograph submitted by the Neil and Eddy Unger (long time NCC members and show dealers from the Chicago area), which displayed two 3112 stems and a 1402/50 74 oz. tankard jug. (Neil, if you're reading this I NEED that jug). Phyllis also concluded the Yukon etch could be found on colored pieces. The last bit of research information found is the etching plates for Yukon that are owned by NCC.

So what has been found to date? I have put together a collection of about a hundred pieces of Yukon over the last twenty-five years. I think of the collection in four categories which include Tally-Ho, 3112 stemware, smoker's items, and miscellaneous. I subdivide the Tally-Ho into stemware and serving pieces.

The Tally-Ho blown stemware are the only pieces of etched Yukon I have found in colors. I have found more Tally-Ho stemware in colors than Crystal at this point, with Royal Blue (shown above left) being most prevalent, followed by Carmen. I once saw a Forest green goblet and I have a witness for an Amethyst goblet. The sizes which are in the collection are goblet, tall sherbet, claret, wine, cocktail, and cordial. I have owned two Royal Blue cordials but unfortunately, both ended up broken, so they are rarer than they were before. I have never seen or heard of Yukon etch on pressed Tally-Ho stemware.

What has been a big surprise is the number of Tally-Ho serving pieces which have come along. The list is below:

  • 1402/23 8 in. salad plate
  • 1402/70 10 1/2 in. bowl
  • 1402/26 14 in. chop plate
  • 1402/33 sugar (seen creamer)
  • Various Yukon pieces
  • 1402/29 17 1/2 in. cabaret plate
  • 1402/95 4 pc. twin salad dressing set
  • 1402/34 11 1/2 in. sandwich plate
  • 1402/96 3 Pc. twin salad dressing set
  • 1402/50 74 oz. tankard jug (Unger's pitcher)
  • 1402/125 12 1/2 in. bowl
  • 1402/52 Ice pail with chromium plated handle
  • 1402/122 10 1/2 in. 3 compartment bowl
  • 1402/131 8 1/2 in. 3 compartment bowl
  • 1402/90 6 in. 2 handled relish, 2 compartments

I really enjoy these pieces, as I think the larger the application of the etch, the better it looks. The smaller stemware pieces tend to have a busier feel. All these pieces are in the collection with the exception of the Unger tankard jug and the creamer.

The next most prevalent presentation of the Yukon etch is found on 3112 stemware (photo, below left). This line is interesting as its production period was concurrent with the Yukon etch. It also didn't appear in any of the catalogs which are available to us. An apt description would have been a "mystery etch" on a "mystery line" of stemware. The sizes I have in the collection are 11 oz. goblet, 9 oz. table, 7 oz. tall sherbet, 4½ oz. wine, 3½ oz. cocktail, and a 1 oz. cordial.

3112 Yukon stems

The next category is the smokers items. This is not a large grouping, with only four items, but enough that it appears someone in the company made a decision to decorate smokers items with the Yukon etch. Two of the items, the 616 cigarette box and the 3500/126 4" Gadroon ashtray, are the same pieces used in Doris Isaac's original research. I have only managed to find the cigarette holders, specifically, the 1066 cigarette holder (oval), and the 1337 cigarette holder with ash tray foot.

The final category is miscellaneous. I'm not sure that there was any rhyme or reason on what they chose to decorate. My favorite piece in miscellaneous is a 3400/152 76 oz. (Doulton) jug (shown below right). This is another great reason to be a part of NCC. I was walking through the Glass Dash with a NCC glass friend when somehow the conversation came around to they owned the piece. I was incredulous that the piece even existed given the limitations of the lines on which it appeared. This is the only 3400 line piece I know of. Another miscellaneous is a 1321 28 oz. decanter etched Yukon. Doulton Jug I have also seen the smaller 14 oz. 1320 decanter but my pleas have not been persuasive enough to get it out of the owner's collection.

The final miscellaneous item is a 3500/151/1327/925 three piece after dinner coffee and cordial set. I'm glad this got saved for last as it requires a little commentary. First, this set lives in both my Yukon collection and Lisa's extensive demitasse cup and saucer collection. The tray is from the 3500 line and is completely frosted. The cup and cordial have a single frosted band around them. This is not decorated as you would expect for a Yukon piece. Generally, the Yukon decoration has multiple lines on each piece. Fortunately, our set is identical to the set Doris found the Yukon label on in her original research. The Smith article mentions a 3500 sugar. These are the only pieces of 3500 I know of.

As far as collecting Yukon goes, over the years I have not seen a lot of pieces around, nor have I passed them up when I saw them. I haven't seen the etch on decorative pieces such as vases, which are prized collectors' items. Additionally, the pieces don't have gold encrusting, enamel, platinum or any other decorative finish. I don't think there is enough of a supply to entice people to form a collection. The pieces I have seen in other collections are primarily an etch example piece in the collection in which they reside. I may be the only Cambridge Glass collector with a dedicated Yukon collection. The upside is that it isn't outrageously priced when I do find it. There just isn't a hot market for it due to the lack of dedicated collections. The final test, and probably the only one that matters, is I love how it looks. The lines are simple, and they give each piece a very different look than the same piece without the etching. The frosting gives the Crystal pieces a white appearance, so when displayed with Royal Blue and Carmen pieces, they create a red, white, and blue collection. Please give me a shout if you have additional information or just want to talk about Yukon.