Epergnes and Their Parts - Part I

by David Ray
Issue No. 445 - February 2011

At the 2003 Convention, I had an opportunity to lead an educational program titled "Epergnes and Their Parts". Since that time, many members have looked to me for answering their questions about arms, prisms, bobeches, and flower vases. The focus of this article is to provide a visual reference for the accessories used in creating candelabrums, epergnes, and epergnettes. This article Bobeches focuses on the different sytles of bobeches and prisms used on Cambridge candelabrums, while the second article will center around the different arms and vases used to create epergnes.

In January 1927, Wilber Orm filed an application for a locking bobeche. From the sketch appearing on the patent, it appears the original locking bobeche possessed four locks. Throughout the duration of the Cambridge Glass Company, bobeches were made having four locks, two locks, or zero locks. Only with the #19 and #20 bobeches did the number of locks vary.

The original version of the #19 and #20 bobeche possessed four locks and had a smooth scalloped edge. At some point in the late 1930's, two new bobeches were introduced and were assigned #19 and #20. These bobeches are very similar to their original versions, but the smooth scalloped edge was replaced with a more jagged edge. Both variations of the #19 and #20 bobeches appear to have been produced simultaneously, which is evident on pages 254 and 255 of the 1940 Catalog. During the 1940's, the scalloped version of the #19 and #20 bobeches were phased out and the pointed version continued to be produced until the 1950's. Candleabra Future mould modifications were made to these bobeches and the number of locks was reduced from four to two and then eventually to zero. A very similar version of the #19 is shown in the 1940's catalog and was listed as #28. This is a mystery.

Bobeches are the key component in creating a candelabrum. A candelabrum is any candlestick possessing at Nude candleabra least one bobeche. The candlestick portion of a candelabrum can be found in nearly every color produced by the Cambridge Glass Company after 1930. The vast majority of these colored candelabrum bases were fitted with crystal bobeches. Although the patent for a bobeche was applied for in 1927, there are no catalog photographs of candelabrums until 1930. All candelabrums pictured in the 1930-1934 Catalog appear to possess four-lock bobeches.

In addition to crystal, the early 4-lock version of the #19 bobeche was produced in amber, amethyst, carmen, forest green, and royal blue. Finding one of these colored bobeches is extremely difficult. Nude stem collectors highly desire theses bobeches to adorn their nude candlesticks, but colored bobeches could have been sold on any candlestick.

The two-lock version of the #19 bobeche as well as the #21 and #23 bobeches were produced in Moonlight Blue. The Moonlight #21 bobeche was part of the #76 Caprice epergne and the #23 bobeche was part of the #71 and #79 Caprice candelabrums. The Moonlight Blue #19 bobeche was part of the #78, #1268, #1356, and #1358 candelabrums and the #1358/5 and #1358/8 epergnes. Although the #1268, #1356, Crown Tuscan nude #1358, #1358/5, and #1358 were not officially part of the Caprice line, these candelabrums and epergnes were likely sold as accessory pieces.

One pair of #19 bobeches has been found in Ebony adorning a pair of Crown Tuscan nude candlesticks. These would be considered extremely unusual.

Upside down bobeches Before ending the discussion on bobeches, I must address the "upside down" bobeches. A pre-1940 catalog supplement pictures epergnes possessing upside down bobeches. Upside down bobeches were produced using either the scalloped or pointed versions of the 4-lock #19 bobeche with the metal pins inserted the opposite direction. The upside down bobeche only appears on epergnes and not candelabrums.

The other bobeche designs produced by the Cambridge Glass Company are featured on the next page. Bobeches produced by the Cambridge Glass Company were designed to accommodate four, five, six, eight, or ten prisms. The Cambridge Glass Company purchased the majority of their prisms from Europe. I have been able to identify twelve different prisms listed in Cambridge catalogs, but other styles of prism have been found on Cambridge Glass. Only 10 prism two prisms were actually produced by the Cambridge Glass Company. The #10 prism on the left is pictured on all of the large hurricane lamps in the 1940's catalog. The similarly shaped star-jeweled prism is found on the large hurricanes pictured in the 1949 and 1957-58 catalogs. It is possible the original prism mould was modified in the 1940's and both prisms were identified as #10.

The #1 prism is extremely common and was used by several other glass companies, but the other styles can be very difficult to find. Some of the Cambridge catalogs specify the type of prism used for a particular candelabrum or epergne. In the spreadsheet, I have listed the specific lengths of each prism, but due to the hand finishing their lengths do vary.

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