A Supreme Novelty

by Dave Rankin
Issue 44 - December 1976

"Will the real Cambridge turkey please stand up?" This was the headline to an article in the February, 1974 issue of the CRYSTAL BALL by Charles Upton. in this article, Charles went to great length to describe the differences between the two turkeys under consideration. Despite this extensive effort no definitive conclusion could be reached. During recent years, research efforts have been made and many, many questions still remain unanswered. However, one small but extremely important bit of information on turkeys was discovered. With this new information we will attempt to provide a conclusive but easy guide to identification of the Cambridge turkey.

The photographs of two turkeys, from the article by Charles, have been reproduced here. Pictured at left is the Cambridge turkey and at right is our mystery.

Cambridge Turkey Mystery Turkey

Notice the waffled appearance of the base on the mystery turkey. This is the most recognizable distinction between the two turkeys. We must compliment Charles on his insight in a particular statement and we quote: "The more I compare these two birds, the more I am convinced that the copy is older than the Cambridge turkey and is not actually the copy as I have called it." By hindsight, we know that the mystery turkey is, in fact, older than the Cambridge turkey and not a copy of it.

The end of our mystery came with the discovery of a trade article in November, 1926 and a trade advertisement in August, 1927. Both items show a glass turkey with a waffled base. It was imported by F. Pavel Company, New York City and was also sold by Mary Ryan, 225 Fifth Ave. The foreign manufacturer was not identified. An interesting note is the statement that it is a copy, "an exact copy of an old sweet meat jar. Its history is rather obscure so that one does not know whether it was at one time a fashionable novelty or merely the work of an artisan in glass." The article further states that the imported turkey was made in crystal, green, salmon, aquamarine and topaz. For those of you who may be wondering if the Cambridge turkey was the original sweetmeat referenced in the trade article, let us clarify that the Cambridge turkey was introduced in late 1930, four years after the article. If you are shopping for a Cambridge turkey, the only thing to remember from all this information is that THE TURKEY WITH THE WAFFLED BASE IS NOT CAMBRIDGE.

This article would not be complete if we did not address ourselves to a turkey produced in abundance for many years by L. E. Smith Company. This turkey is very frequently mistaken for the Cambridge turkey; at times, a very costly mistake. We hope to provide enough information to prevent this mistake among our club members in the future.

Smith and Cambridge turkeys [Webmaster's NOTE: The photograph at left was not a part of the original Crystal Ball article; it has been added to illustrate the differences between the Smith turkey (left) and the Cambridge turkey (right). The Cambridge turkey is in the relatively rare Bluebell color. Observe that the Smith turkey does not have the "waffled" base. The size difference is quite obvious when comparing them side-by-side.]

For those of you who have an opportunity to use a tape measure when making a decision on a turkey the following measurements will help. The circumference of the bases are l4 in. for Smith, 17 in. for Cambridge. Front to back with the lid off (breast to tip of feathers) is 7 in. for Smith, 9+ in. for Cambridge. The width of the feathers at the widest point is 5½ in. for Smith and 7 in. for Cambridge.

If you cannot use a tape measure, the following will help. The opening for the lid on the Smith turkey is level where the Cambridge turkey slopes significantly downward toward the front. If you try to pick up these turkeys with one hand by reaching across the back behind the head, the smallest adult hand can get a firm grip on the Smith turkey, but the largest hand cannot get a firm enough grip to pick up a valuable Cambridge turkey. (Please use two hands when actually picking up those turkeys.)

With these tools, we hope that the real Cambridge turkey finally stood up for you.