Cambridge Titanic Candy Dispenser

by Frank Wollenhaupt
Issue No. 437 - April 2010


Titanic Ninety Eight years ago this month April 14-15, 1912 the above Morse code distress call was sent out by the RMS Titanic. The complete call was: CQD CQD CQD CQD CQD CQD DE (this is) MGY MGY MGY MGY MGY MGY MGY (Titanic's call sign) Position 41.44N 50.24W. Come at once we have struck a BERG. In a little over 2 hours, the ship that was billed as "unsinkable" was on its way to the bottom of the ocean.

By now you are wondering what the Titanic has to do with Cambridge glass and that's a voyage we are taking this month. In an early non dated Near Cut catalogue circa 1915 we find a page of toy candy containers. Some of these toy candy containers are Titanic candy considered among the rarest to be collected. Most of the containers have great detail and appear to have been made in a much more limited quantity than those by their competition.

I have been collecting Cambridge candy containers for many years and have put together several in a nice collection. If you start collecting Cambridge Candy containers, you need to keep a copy of that catalogue page with you at all times. Many other glass companies (Westmoreland, L.E. Smith, West Bros, T.H. Stough and the Victory Glass Co to name a few) all made candy containers and several look very close to the Cambridge candies. But after a close inspection, there is always a difference.

This past fall, I saw an auction for several candy containers and did a double take on the ship container that they were calling "Titanic" (above, right). Strange I said (to myself) it looks just like the Dreadnaught that Cambridge made. After examining the photos closely, I came to the conclusion that it was the Cambridge ship (Dreadnaught - below, right) but with "TITANIC" pressed on its side. The Dreadnaught/Titanic ship was in poor condition with a large chip out of the main stack and a small hole in the bow and looked to be "sick".

Dreadnaught I won the auction and couldn't wait for the package to arrive. When it did, I still didn't have many answers. The chip was still in the stack and the hole was still in the bow but what I couldn't see from the photos was that it appeared to have been dug up from someplace. I compared it to my Dreadnaught and everything down to the port holes matches up correct.

I called the person to try and see if he could fill me in on where he purchased it or what he knew about it. All he could remember was that he found it at a yard sale 8 or 10 years ago outside of Toledo. OK, now we take that "voyage" I was talking about.

With the candy containers listed in the early Near Cut catalogue dated circa 1915 we know that it takes sometime to make the molds, run some test pieces and get the mold working just right so they can be produced.

Cambridge has been known to follow the world news and name colors and patterns to go along with what was happening at that time period.

I am speculating about why this has "Titanic" imprinted where we would normally see "Dreadnaught". The ship "Titanic" was huge news at that time and I believe Cambridge saw a chance to cash in on all that attention. I think Cambridge saw a chance to beat their competition and bring out a toy candy container that would appeal to everyone.

They have the mold ready ... have made some samples ... might even had sent a sample out with their best salesman to drum up some orders. They are just setting back for the ship to sail and than introduce it to the market.

Both ships BAM! The Titanic hits a "Burg" and sinks ... now what does Cambridge do? Not to panic ... they replace the name in the mold with "Dreadnaught". Run some new samples and have it photographed for inclusion in the new catalogue.

The few Titanic candy containers that made it out of the factory are destroyed or forgotten about.

I also wondered what kind of ship the Dreadnaught was ... In looking on the internet, I could not find a listing for a US ship with this name ... about the only thing I came up with was a class of ship.

OK……….that's the end of the Voyage ... hope you didn't get too sea sick.

I know this story differs from my normal "Only Questions, no Answers" but I thought with a few facts, I might be able to come to a good working conclusion. The facts are: the Titanic was the largest passenger ship at that time – She sank on April 15th - I have a candy container with the name "Titanic" on its side – this container matches the container "Dreadnaught" that Cambridge produced. This is my story and I am sticking to it. If anyone else has a different take, please let me know.