Shades of Green

by David Ray
Issue No. 435 - February 2010

During its 57-year run, the Cambridge Glass Company produced nine differing green colors of glassware "Early Green", Early Dark Emerald, Jade, Light Emerald, Avocado, Forest Green, Pistachio, Late Dark Emerald, and "Odd Green". Except for the period from 1944 to 1948, the Cambridge Glass Company continuously produced at least one green color of glass. Although simultaneously producing green glassware, other elegant glass companies had green colors that will seldom be confused with the green colors of the Cambridge Glass Company.

The first reference of green glass produced by Cambridge was Early green in 1903, and this green color is referred to as "Early Green" by Cambridge glass collectors. Production appears to have been limited to children's toy table settings, which consisted of a sugar, a creamer, a spooner, and a round covered butter dish. Frequently, these 4-piece settings possess a wide range of variation of green color, and no clear explanation exists for the color variation; however, some believe the color variation is likely due to poor quality control during early years of the Cambridge Glass Company. Nearly all 4-piece settings seem to have at least three shades of green. Early Green was discontinued before 1916.

Early Dark Emerald In 1916, the Cambridge Glass Company introduced a more vibrant shade of green and called it Emerald. Since the color name of Emerald was used by Cambridge for a similar dark green color introduced in 1949, collectors refer to this Emerald as Early Dark Emerald. Many of the Near Cut patterns were produced in this color, but most items have the carnival treatment. The Near Cut patterns include: Strawberry, Thistle, Marjorie, Feather, Buzz Saw, and Wheat Sheath. Finding Early Dark Emerald items in Near Cut patterns without the carnival treatment is difficult, with the exception of Thistle. However, most of the Thistle pieces in Early Dark Emerald have the pattern highlighted with gold. Early Dark Emerald was discontinued before 1923.

Jade In 1924, the Cambridge Glass Company introduced the first opaque green glassware, and the color was called Jade. Although identified as a green color, Jade possesses strong "blue" undertones. Many very desirable items were produced in Jade. These include atomizers, perfumes, the ram's head bowl, and decorated pieces including etchings and enamels. The majority of the items produced in Jade can also be found in the other opaque colors produced during the 1920's.

In 1923, the Cambridge Glass Company introduced another new green color also called Emerald. In a 1976 Crystal Ball article, Lynn Welker coined the name Light Emerald. Lynn stated that factory workers referred to Light Emerald as "Apple Green". Light Emerald was produced extensively until the early 1940's. Obviously, Light Emerald was an extremely popular color with the buying public because of the large quantities that can be found today. Some of the major lines produced in Light Emerald are Decagon, Weatherford, Round, and Everglades. Most of the figural flower frogs and swans were produced in Light Emerald. Some of the more prevalent etchings found on Light Emerald include Cleo, Gloria, Majestic and Rosalie. Items produced in Light Emerald and Forest Green with a satin finish on one side were called Jade, which Light Emerald is an unfortunate duplication of the name of the opaque green color. Light Emerald glassware possessing the Jade decoration is limited to items from the Everglades line while Forest Green glassware possessing the Jade decoration is limited to vases and ball jugs.

From a November 2003 article written by Les Hansen, the following table lists ingredients for producing a batch of Light Emerald.

IngredientQuantity (lb)
Copper Oxide13 oz
Uranium43 oz

Copper oxide and the uranium gave Light Emerald its distinctive color. The other ingredients are common to many other colors of glass.

In 1927, the Cambridge Glass Company introduced its second opaque green color of glassware. Cambridge glass collectors have coined the name of Avocado for this additional green opaque color; however, research suggests Avocado Avocado likely was actually called Pomona Green by the Cambridge Glass Company. Fluorspar (calcium fluoride) is the critical ingredient added to glass formulas to produce opaque glass. Avocado was likely produced for only a couple of years and is one of the more difficult to find among Cambridge glass colors. Other than Ebony, Cambridge's opaque colors were seldom etched and gold encrusted, but pieces of Avocado can be found gold-encrusted Hunt Scene and Dresden Rose. Because of its specific time period of production, Avocado can be found in interesting items that cannot be found in the other opaque colors, including desk sets, blown stemware, the refectory bowl, and the tobacco jar.

After Henry Hellmers began work as a glass chemist at the Cambridge Glass Company, he formulated a new color in 1931 called Forest Green, and production of Forest Green continued Forest green through 1943. Forest Green, Early Dark Emerald, and Late Dark Emerald (this color will be also be discussed) are very similar in color. Thankfully, the years of production of the three dark green transparent colors don't overlap; therefore, knowing the production date of a specific item can assist in determining the appropriate color name.

The production dates of a few Cambridge lines extend from the era of Forest Green to that of Late Dark Emerald. Thus, determining the proper color for these items can be difficult. For blown items, Forest Green tends to have a yellowish cast that Late Dark Emerald lacks. For heavy molded pieces, distinguishing between Forest Green from Late Dark Emerald is sometimes extremely difficult. Because of its dark color, Forest Green doesn't allow etchings to easily show up. Nonetheless, a persistent collector can find Forest Green pieces etched Apple Blossom, Blackberry, Bordeaux, Diane, Elaine, Gloria, Lorna, Martha, Minerva, Portia, Rose Marie, Valencia, and Wildflower. Collectors would be fortunate to find one example of each of these etchings on Forest Green.

During the production period of Forest Green (1930's and early 1940's), the Cambridge Glass Company was in its heyday. Many exciting patterns and shapes were produced in Forest Green that had not been produced in earlier green colors -- the flying lady bowl, Mount Vernon, Tally Ho, nude stems, the frog vase, and the frog pitcher are examples. Although Light Emerald continued to be used to produce glass into the 1940's, Forest green none of the aforementioned items were produced in Light Emerald. For swan collectors, the Forest Green swans are quite difficult to find. If you have a 10½" Forest Green swan in your collection, please consider yourself extremely fortunate.

In a November 2003 article written by Les Hansen, the following table lists ingredients for Forest Green.

IngredientQuantity (lb)
Iron Oxide2
Copper Oxide1

Bichromate, iron oxide, and copper oxide are the ingredients that give Forest Green it distinctive color.

In 1938, the Cambridge Glass Company introduced Pistachio for the first time. Pistachio was produced during two time periods 1938 to 1943 and 1955 to 1958 and glassware produced during the two periods is sometimes referred to Pistachio as "Early" Pistachio and "Reopen" Pistachio (indicating the glass was produced after the reopening of the Cambridge Glass Company in 1955). The items produced in Pistachio are rather limited compared to other Cambridge colors of that time period. Early Pistachio was most common in the Caprice line, and all #300 blown Caprice stemware blanks were produced in Early Pistachio, as well as the cup & saucer, salad plate, dessert plate, 11½" service plate, medium size creamer & sugar. A few additional Caprice items were produced. Pistachio was also one of the colors used in the Varitone drink ware sets; therefore, many of the Early Pistachio pieces are drinking vessels.

In 1955, "Reopen" Pistachio was introduced. Because Cambridge was producing a much more limited number of items during the reopened period, those items produced in "Reopen" Pistachio are quite easily identified, including the 3011 short-stemmed nude comport and the #1528 vase. "Reopen" Pistachio is slightly darker than its earlier version and, if not frequently washed, the glass acquires a foggy cast. All items with the crackled treatment are "Reopen" Pistachio.

Late Dark Emerald In 1949, the Cambridge introduced yet another color called Emerald. To limit confusion, collectors refer to this color as Late Dark Emerald. This color was very reminiscent of Early Dark Emerald and Forest Green. If the production time of a particular item is known, then assigning the correct transparent dark green color to that item can be fairly easy. However, when the production period of an individual item overlaps the production period of the transparent green colors, correct identification of the dark green color can be difficult. For example, the production periods of a few lines spanned across the entire 1940's (from Forest Green to Late Dark Emerald), including Jefferson, Georgian, Sea Shell, Caprice, and nude stems. The number of items produced solely in Late Dark Emerald is somewhat limited and include Cascade, Pristine, and type 3 swans.

Odd green An undocumented transparent green is sometimes referred to as "Odd" Green has surfaced in seven items: #1327 favor vase, Stradivari cocktail, Stradivari cordial, #3011 nude cocktail, #3011 nude brandy #496 little joe tumbler, and #1341 cordial. This color can best be described as teal. Often stems or tumblers found in Odd Green are part of a Harlequin or Varitone set; therefore, the production dates of Odd Green center about the production dates of these drinking sets. Surprisingly, neither a #1955 tumbler nor a #496 tall joe tumbler has been spotted in Odd Green.

The Cambridge Glass Company periodically produced experimental colors. Most of these colors can be seen in the Experimental Glass case in the National Museum of Cambridge Glass. Several of experimental colors produced are a shade of green.

A very special "Thank You" to the following Friends of Cambridge who contributed photos for the "Shades of Green" article

Sue Cameron
Glenn & Kathy Corbett
David Ray
Linda Roberts
Cher Van Soest
Wendy Steelhammer
Jack & Elaine Thompson
Frank & Vicki Wollenhaupt

Green items
Green items