Correctly Identifying Yellows

by Dave Small
Issue No. 465 - February 2013

The book, Colors in Cambridge Glass, is a terrific reference that many Cambridge collectors keep handy and refer to frequently. It does a very good job of describing the various colors and shapes.

However, it isn't perfect. One shortcoming is that it doesn't show the color Topaz as it really appears in real life. Something was lost in the printing process.

Topaz was Cambridge's Vaseline Glass*. It was introduced in the 1920's and phased out in the early 1930s. Gold Krystol was another early yellow color that was subsequently replaced by Mandarin Gold.

When viewing online sites like,,, and, I have noticed that the yellow colors are often incorrectly identified by sellers. This article will attempt to sort out the various yellows.

Refer to the photo below, which shows, left to right, a Topaz cocktail, a Mandarin Gold cocktail, and a Gold Krystol cocktail glass. All three of these are on Cambridge 3011 Crown Tuscan statuesque nude stems.

Comparing yellows

Topaz is a type of glass containing a significant amount of Uranium Dioxide commonly referred to as "Vaseline glass*", mostly yellow but with a definite greenish tinge especially visible in thicker areas, where the color does bunch. The most common error is to misidentify one of these other colors as Topaz. That's because Topaz is not often seen, and because it incorrectly appears to be a plain yellow color in the book Colors in Cambridge Glass.

As Lynn Welker wrote in his December 1981 Crystal Ball article entitled 3011 Figure Stem Line - Conclusion: "As far as color goes, it is difficult to say which is hardest to find.

The following list takes into consideration both rarity and value: Amber, Mandarin Gold, Emerald, Amethyst, Gold Krystol, Crystal, Ebony, Mocha, Royal Blue, Carmen, Pink, Pistachio, Tahoe Blue, Moonlight Blue, Smoke, Heatherbloom, Topaz." As an example, a nude Topaz cocktail with Crown Tuscan stem, like the one shown on the left in the photo below, sold for $800 at the 2011 NCC auction.

Mandarin Gold is a true yellow and is a bit darker than Gold Krystol. It is easy to identify in heavier pieces because the yellow color tends to bunch in thicker areas. This bunching makes it look quite a bit darker than Gold Krystol in thicker pieces.

Notice that the Gold Krystol doesn't bunch or concentrate at the thick bottom of the cocktail glass bowl. Mandarin Gold and Gold Krystol can be difficult to tell apart in thin pieces. A Mandarin Gold nude cocktail looks very much like the Gold Krystol cocktail except for the bunching of the color when you view the thicker bottom of the bowl (look at the thin upper portions of the two glasses shown here and notice how the yellows look alike). The trick for correctly identifying is to look at the thicker areas.

(*Note: Vaseline Glass is commonly defined, by most American collectors, as glass containing a significant amount of Uranium Dioxide, which makes it fluorescent. It also glows under ultraviolet light. For more detailed and precise information about Vaseline Glass refer to the articles by Frank Wollenhaupt in the Crystal Ball (Sep. 2010 & Nov/Dec 2010) and Les Hansen in his February 2004 article).