Cambridge Laboratory Glass

Frank Wollenhaupt
Issue No. 429 - June/July 2009

Webmaster's NOTE: This article was extracted from Frank's column entitled "Only Questions - No Answers."

How many of you were shocked or surprised when item # 248, the "Cambridge 250ml. Laboratory Beaker/Flask with cut graduations, signed, Original Beaker Cambridge Box", brought $320.00 in our March NCCauction? (Photo at left)

How many of you think Cambridge only made high end glassware like the 3011 Nude Stem line or the beautiful etched Rosepoint, Elaine, Portia, Chantilly or many of the other etchings? What about the great swans and flower frogs? Both lines were leaders and great sellers but not many people realize that Cambridge made a line of glassware that was not so beautiful but in its own right, it was a leader.

Are you aware that for years, Cambridge produced a line of glassware for the Chemical, Laboratory Supply, Physicians, Druggists and Watchmakers? Would you also believe that the line continued even after the closing of the Cambridge factory?

Lab items It lived on for many years under the name of "Variety Glass" and was owned by Mary Martha Mitchell, Tom Mosser and Rudolph Wencek who were all associated with The Cambridge Glass Company for many years prior to starting Variety Glass. Many of the molds that Variety presses were acquired when The Cambridge Glass Company was liquidated in 1959. Variety Glass, Inc. opened in late 1959 near Indian Camp and had to Lab items move a short time later due to a fire. Operations were transferred to the old Cambridge Glass factory for about a year and then a permanent home was established in a former street car barn near the corner of Second Street and Foster Avenue in Cambridge.

Some of the items that were part of the line were: Alcohol Lamps, #609 Alcohol Cup, #615 Balsam Bottle (photo #2 & 3), #614 Benzene Cup, #920 Watchmakers or Movement Cover Lab item (photo #4 & 5), Battery Jar, #644 Beaker (photo #6),Reagent Bottle cap, #672 Staining Dish or Slide Box and cover (photo #7 & 8), Lab items Coplin Staining Jar and cover, Stender Dish or Preparation jar, Desiccating Jar (these make great terrariums), Funnel, Sugar Funnel, Bandage or surgical dressing jar and cover, Tongue blade jar with cover, Developing tray, Percolator, scale feet or balance rests, surgical tray (for instruments), Watch glass, specimen dishes, #638½A - Bell Glasses (photo #9) with closed top and knob, 1 inch hole for rubber stopper or 1 inch hole with ground in glass stopper.

These were all listed in Catalog #17, dated 1953. We know they made a complete line of graduates but none of them show up in this catalog. (photo #10) I also have a copy of a catalog #2 of Lab item Glassware for the Soda Fountain Confectioner and Baker. This catalog isn't dated but does show graduates, show jars and several other laboratory items. One can Bell jar only wonder if this was the start of the Chemical, Laboratory Supply catalogue and that it went through several changes over the years. Items were added and discontinued as the market dictated.

You might also be asking "How can I tell if it is Cambridge?" Would you believe that most of the items are signed? If you look close at photo #1 and #10, you can see a Triangle with a "C" inside it. This mark is cut into the side of the item. Both of the beakers have a triangle C molded into the bottom of the base. If you look at the line of graduates, the two smaller ones have Cambridge Glass molded into the ball just on top of the foot (photo #11) and one of Lab item the larger graduates has an acid mark on the side of it. (photo #12)

I am prolific with questions but haven't many answers in regard to the pharmaceutical line. Remember some of the plainest items are some of the best sleepers. Keep collecting! (You can email Frank at