Cambridge Blues -- Part II

by David B. Rankin
Issue No. 77 - September 1979

This month our discussion of Cambridge blue colors will continue as we explore the light blue transparents.

The earliest reference to a light blue color came in July, 1928, in an article in "China, Glass and Lamps" which contained an announcement of the simultaneous introduction of two light blue formulas called Willow Blue. One of the formulas was for heavy pressed ware while the other was for light pressed and blown ware. In the article the author wrote many, many words attempting to describe Willow Blue. In essence it is a very delicate, even blue which does not gather the color effect in heavy sections of glass. Extensive references to Willow Blue appeared in "China, Glass and Lamps" through 1931 and appeared in the General Information section of the 1930 catalog.

In 1930 Cambridge was promoting the Springtime line in some unusual color names. The color names apply to this line only and appear to be a sales promotion without any real new colors. Among these colors is Mystic Blue. The current hypothesis is that Mystic Blue is really Willow Blue. The other colors were Rose du Barry (Peach-Blo), Cinnamon (Amber), Jade (light Emerald) and Krystol (Crystal). This hypothesis has not been tested by careful examination of these items under black light (mainly due to the scarcity of Springtime items). For those of you who are not familiar with the Springtime line see pages 64-67 of the 1930-34 catalog reprint. These items were made in a satin finish with bright highlights (key design elements like the flowers were not satin finished).

After references to Willow Blue stopped in 1931 there appears to be very little activity in light blues until January, 1936, when Moonlight Blue was introduced. Moonlight Blue is the most frequently encountered of the light blues and for good reason. Caprice was also introduced in 1936 and it was a very popular line. Moonlight Blue was also the longest running light blue being produced for at least 8 years through 1943. Several colors had to be discontinued or modified during the war due to material shortages. It would appear that Moonlight Blue was one of them. After many years of absence it was sold again during the reopened period (approximately 1956-58).

There is a visible difference to the trained eye between Willow Blue and Moonlight. Several terms have been used to describe this difference. Moonlight has more "life", more "depth", more "gathering effect". Even without more definitive terms I think you get the idea.

One final color name must be mentioned in our discussion of light blues. In 1933 a trade article in "China, Glass and Lamps" contained a reference to Eleanor Blue in connection with the Everglade line (see pages 33-25 thru 33-29b of the 1930-34 catalog reprint). Very recently we located an undated Cambridge document confirming that Eleanor Blue is a valid name and is a light blue. Although it was not dated, other information in the document is consistent with the 1933 time frame. Without confirmation of the validity of the "China, Glass and Lamps" article, until recently, no real research has been performed to discover a means of identifying Eleanor Blue.

Last month's article contained a discussion on the use of black light in the study of Cambridge blues, but the two opaque colors didn't really require its use. In this discussion of light blues, its use is essential. Since all of the reactions on light blues are in the weak to medium range, it is important that these blues be viewed in the darkest possible environment.

The Decagon line was introduced in 1928 and appears to run approximately the same time range as Willow Blue. Examining a Decagon mayonnaise and plate under black light we found a medium, green reaction. While examining other light blue items under black light we found a medium, white reaction in a 3300 line sherbet. Research in "China, Glass and Lamps" shows that the 3300 line was introduced in August, 1929, yet doesn't appear in the 1930 catalog. With such a narrow time range within the Willow Blue time range we concluded that this must be the formula for light pressed and blown ware while the Decagon items would be the heavy pressed formula.

Although the name Moonlight Blue was used during both production periods (1936-43 and 1956-58), there are at least two formulas involved. On Moonlight Blue items the most common reaction is a very, very weak, light green while another formula has a weak, blue reaction. That's right, a "Blue" reaction from a blue glass. The blue reaction was observed in a Georgian candy jar, a Gyro-Optic (3143 line) tumbler and a 200 line Caprice goblet. The Georgian candy jar appears to be unique to the reopened period while the other items were produced in the early 1940's. At this point we are unable to further clarify the period or relationship of these two Moonlight formulas.

There is one other reaction under black light which shows us a fifth light blue formula. Unfortunately it is in a 9 oz. Georgian tumbler. The 9 oz Georgian was produced from the 1920's through the end in 1958. This is not much to go on until we can observe the same reaction in other pieces. When I first observed this item under black light I thought there was no reaction at all. Upon careful examination I saw a weak, dark green reaction. This item appears different to the naked eye also. A little darker that either Willow or Moonlight Blues it looks almost like a dirty blue.

From this discussion it is obvious that more research and study is needed to clarify the many facets of the light blues.

The following summarizes the characteristics of the light blues:

1) Willow Blue (1928-1931) - delicate even blue
Under black light:
a) Heavy pressed formula - medium, green reaction
b) Light pressed and blown formula - medium, white reaction

2) Mystic Blue (1930) - same as Willow Blue

3) Moonlight Blue (1936-1943 & 1956-1958) - a little darker that Willow Blue, slight gathering effect
Under black light:
a) Formula 1 - very weak, light green reaction
b) Formula 2 - weak, blue reaction

4) Eleanor Blue (1933) - characteristics unknown

5) Unknown Blue - dirty blue darker that Willow or Moonlight
Under black light: weak, dark green reaction