Lamps, Lamps & Lamps

by Mark Nye
Issue No. 425 - February 2009

The Cambridge Glass Co. began operations in May 1902 and oil lamps were among its initial output. For a good portion of the nation, such lamps remained a major source of illumination and hence a good seller for companies who included them in their lines. The first Cambridge catalog that survives is dated 1903 and it offered, to the wholesale buyer, five different lines of lamps with each line having at least five sizes. None of these were original to Cambridge, the molds coming to Cambridge from other factories whose parent companies were components of the National Glass Company. Infrequently seen today, there is no way to identify a given lamp as having been made at the Cambridge factory or by the mold's original owner.

Two years after they commenced operation, Cambridge had begun the manufacture of original lines but the lamps and lighting accessories that were offered in the 1906 catalog were continuations of lines from other companies that had been a part of National Glass Co. Offered in the 1906 catalog were several lines of gas and electric shades, most coming in six or more sizes. Other pages in this same catalog offered sewing lamps, night lamps, stand lamps and hand lamps. Again, none were original to Cambridge and when found today, cannot be specifically identified as being made at the Cambridge factory.

Shown in the 1906 catalog and eagerly sought by Cambridge lamp collectors are the two miniature lamps known as the Duchess Night Lamp and the Countess Night Lamp. Their size is demonstrated by the fact that both were packed 12 dozen to a barrel. One page in a Cambridge catalog issued circa 1916 is captioned "Lamp Lines" and offered 21 lamps, several in many different sizes. A second page captioned "SEWING LAMPS, FOUNTS, NIGHT LAMPS AND GAS AND ELECTRIC SHADES, SPUN AND PLASTER COLLARS," illustrated seventeen lamps and founts and thirteen shades for gas and or electric lamps. Once again, none of these were original to Cambridge.

Nearcut Lamp A third page in this same catalog did offer original Cambridge lighting devices, called Portables, Gas-Electric-Oil. The name Portable came from the fact that most gas lights, a popular type of lighting, were "fixed" in place due to the fact they needed to be connected by pipe to the gas source. The lamps offered by Cambridge could easily be moved from room to room; even those fueled by gas could easily be disconnected from the gas line and moved to another location. Some of the lamps were offered in gas or electric versions, others as electric only while there were three oil lamps. The distinguishing feature of these lamps was that they were all "Near Cut" designs.

Cambridge issued its' Catalog No.10 circa 1920-21 and in it lamps continued to be offered. Gone are the portables but oil lamps fill an entire page, thus showing there was still a large market for this type of lighting. During the next few years Cambridge phased out its involvement in the manufacture of this type of lighting devices. While it would be many more years before the entire nation was electrified, (post World War II in some areas), Cambridge's market focus changed and during the next few years the company phased out its involvement in the manufacture of oil lamps as well as gas and electric shades. Cambridge catalogs after the mid 1920s, with one exception, did not offer lighting devices but that did not mean Cambridge was no longer involved in making items for use in lighting and particularly for electric lamps. For the balance of this article, the term lamp refers to an electrical device unless otherwise specified.

Even though they are not seen in any of the known Cambridge catalogs, two styles of electric lamps were made by Cambridge in the 1923 color Mulberry and one, the Community lamp, is also known in Amber. This lamp was made from an oil lamp whose mold was altered to allow the use of the electrical fixture and cord. The other lamp is a boudoir lamp with a glass shade with beaded fringe. Both of these lamps are illustrated in Colors In Cambridge Glass II.

After the introduction of the figural flower holder we now refer to as the Draped Lady, an enterprising company copied the piece in Crystal and made it into a lamp. The short flat base had a hole in the back of it for the insertion of the tubing that was used to support the lamp socket and to conceal the cord. The base also had a notch to permit the cord exit. Cambridge, to paraphrase a current idiom "was not amused," sued the company and got the mold. They then proceeded to make the lamp themselves, in Crystal, Light Emerald and possibly Peach-blo. There is no absolute way to distinguish who make the Crystal lamps unless one is lucky enough to find one with a label. The mold quality was not that of Cambridge molds and this is readily apparent from the piece when a lamp is found. The quality of the piece is not that seen from Cambridge molds or even Cambridge molds when used by someone else. In addition, the figure is shorter than the authentic eight inch Cambridge Draped Lady. There is no indication The Imperial Glass Company ever used the mold. After Imperial closed, Summit Art Glass obtained the molds for the lamp and made the lamp in several colors. Summit produced lamps are in the colors of Royal Blue, Vaseline, Moonlight Blue, Pink, Emerald Slag, Purple Slag, and Jadeite Slag. Other colors, including slags, are possible.

Cambridge also made and sold a radio lamp, consisting of a cube base that housed the actual light fixture and a figurine that sat on top. One of these was a seven inch version of the Draped Lady that was a different mold from the flower frog version. The lamp figurine was slightly different and had more detail that the figure used as a part of the flower frog. There was a slight flange beneath the feet that could be called marie and this fit into an indentation of top of the cube. Neither this lamp nor the Draped lady lamp appear in known Cambridge catalogs.

The 1940 Cambridge catalog offered the 1123 Dresden figure in two versions, one by itself and the second, as 1123/3, with a separate Ebony base for lamps with ½ inch hole in its center. Apparently it was up to the purchaser or user to install a light on top of the base.

Several companies bought items from Cambridge specifically for use in assembling lamps. These included Rebel & Frank, Greenly Lamp & Shade Co. Chicago Art Novelty Co., Art Craft Studios, Levolette Co., and General Lighting Studios. Nothing is known about these companies and file copies of invoices covering purchases from Cambridge are long gone. What does remain are records in a "Move and Cost" book created and used by Cambridge over a period of many years. It is from this ledger that the preceding company names were taken. It also lists all of the various items "costed out" for each company.

Among the many items listed for Rebel & Frank were: Virginian 498 candlestick, Virginian 499 Candlestick with prism, Virginian 422 Ivy Ball, with the Sierra treatment, the Virginian 315 Candy box with pressed hole in the bottom and notch in foot, and the cover to the Virginian candy box made with a pressed hole in the center and no knob. Other items made for Rebel and Frank included the #20 10½ in. Everglade Vase with hole drilled in bottom; the 1237 vase without a foot, etched Diane and with a hole drilled in the bottom, and the 2800/112 2 handled vase with hole and slot pressed.

The Greenly Lamp & Shade Company also bought a number of modified Virginian items. Among the items were No. 422 Virginian Ivy Ball with a cut notch and 1½ inch drilled hole, No. 407 Virginian bowl, cupped to 3½ inches with either a pressed or drilled hole, the No. 134 Virginian salver foot, finished with a hole and a slot, and the No. 134 Virginian salver top with hole drilled and polished. From the Mt. Vernon line Greenly used the No. 46 vase with no foot the No. 74 honey jar and the No. 24 individual salt with a pressed hole. This same company also used the Gadroon Nos. 41 and 42 urns and covers. The covers had no knobs while the bottoms had a hole and a notch.

On the Chicago Art Novelty Co. page, in the Move and Cost Ledger, were listed four items. These were the No. 310 paste mold vase with a hole drilled, the Caprice 251 vase with hold drilled, the 1301 vase with no foot and hole drilled and the #49 Sea Shell foot, again with a hole. The latter two were listed as being made in Crown Tuscan and Coral, respectively. This page was dated May 2, 1940. Art Craft Studios used three salt shakers, the Nos. 1258, 1257 and 1262, as lamp breaks. These had the threads cut off and a hole drilled in the bottom. For the same purpose this company also used two Pristine ashtrays, the Nos. 721 and 722, with drilled holes. Used in lamps produced by the Levolette Company were the Mt. Vernon No. 76 jelly, No. 23 finger bowl and the No. 63 ash tray, all with drilled holes.

This is by no means a complete listing of all the standard catalog items modified to be used as lamp parts or breaks. In addition, there were a number of pieces made specifically as lamp breaks that did not incorporate a known Cambridge pattern or design and would be very difficult, if not impossible, to identify as having come from the Cambridge factory.

Apple Blossom lamp During the years the etching Apple Blossom was popular, No. 1309 five inch vases etched Apple Blossom, were purchased by an unidentified lighting company and made into lamps. Mainly found in Amber, followed by Crystal, these lamps are also known in Gold Krystol and Peach Blo. Recently, this lamp was also found in Carmen, etched Apple Blossom. Another item from this same time period frequently used as a major lamp component was the No. 1301 10 inch vase, minus its foot, etched Diane and gold encrusted. These will be found primarily in Carmen but are also known in Royal Blue, Crown Tuscan, and other colors as well. Surprisingly, many will have on them the small oval Cambridge label used during the 1930s. This same lamp will also be found with the Rose Point etching on Carmen, Royal Blue and Crown Tuscan blanks, again gold encrusted.

Not to be overlooked are the Crown Tuscan lighted gold decorated advertising urns, made from the Gadroon Line 3500/42 12 inch urn. These will be found with or without the Gadroon design even though the item number remained the same. One version is lettered Cambridge Rose Point and has the Rose Point design while a second is lettered Cambridge Glass and is decorated with a stylized fleur de lis design. They were not intended to be the primary source of illumination for a room or an area but rather the electrification was done to enhance their appearance on the store counter and thus promote the Cambridge line.

Toward the end of the reorganized Cambridge Glass Co.'s operations, (aka ReOpen Period) they produced lamps using several items from the Cascade line. These were primarily items from the Milk Glass line, the large Cascade vase, the large ash tray and what appears to be a cover that has been altered. These will be covered in a future, separate article.

Lighting companies could and would also buy catalog items, such as hurricane shades and bobeches, etched or plain for use in assembling chandeliers. With some ingenuity, many stock Cambridge items could be and were used in assembling lamps. Unless there is a manufacturer's label on the lamp or if you are lucky enough to find an advertisement for a lamp of this type, there is no way to identify the maker.

It is possible for an enterprising individual to take a piece of Cambridge glass and incorporate it into a lamp. This may have happened in the past and could still take place today.