Cambridge "Caprice" Facts

by Betty Regan
Issue #81 - January 1980

Caprice "like the enchantment of Rippling Water"

Caprice surely must have been one of Cambridge Glass Company's most popular patterns and by all indications produced the largest number of single pattern items. Bill Smith, President of National Cambridge Collectors, tells us in an article published in the Crystal Ball, December 1976 that he had compiled a listing from catalog numbers of 243 individual items. Most list as individual items although a few are sets, such as the Creamer, Sugar and Tray. According to the ads in my collection the number of pieces being made in any given year or month varied. In the latest dated ads in 1950 and 1951, 65 and 70 Caprice items were still listed as being available.

The earliest historical information for the Caprice pattern is in the form of Design Patent applications. These are dated 1936 which is thought to be when the pattern was introduced but that it had first been produced in late 1935. In the June 1936 issue of China, Glass and Lamps, the Caprice line boasted over 200 items with more than 150 pieces in open stock. At this time, Crystal, Moonlight Blue and a satin finish Alpine was offered. The Crystal Ball articles list a 1940 Price List of January 1 as their first reference to the Caprice colors of La Rosa (pink), Pistachio (green) and Mocha (amber). However, I have an ad from Ladies Home Journal dated 1939 which offers Crystal, Moonlight Blue and La Rosa open stock. A company letter to customers, dated October 16, 1943 stated that La Rose, Pistachio and Mocha would be dropped from production at that time. (Reference to above, Bill Smith-Crystal Ball.)

In regards to the production span of Moonlight Blue we know that it was first produced in 1936. However, in deference to David Rankin's notes and Chart of Cambridge Blues, he lists Moonlight Blue as having been discontinued in 1943. In the two ads that I have, Moonlight Blue was still being made in 1950 and 1951. Of particular interest is the 1951 ad, which extols Cambridge's 50th year of fine glass making so the dating is accurate as to the dates the advertising was done. As to when, between 1951 and 1954 the color was discontinued, it is still a mystery. Crystal is said to have been continued until closing. When Imperial Glass Company purchased the Cambridge molds, they continued to produce a few items in Caprice. For example the #165 Footed Candy jar with Lid was made in Imperial colors of Amber, Antique Blue, Light Green and Sunshine Yellow. These colors are easily recognized as non-Cambridge colors. Crystal is another matter and there is no way to be sure of distinguishing the late Cambridge from an Imperial item, unless of course, the Cambridge by Imperial label still remains on the glass.

Not to be overlooked, some Caprice items were produced in milk glass. Vases, the 3 oz. oil cruet and the #1338 3 light candlestick are items which are shown in catalog pages available to me. Some pieces are also available in Forest Green. The three-piece ashtray set also comes with one of the ashtrays in Blue Bell.

In the decorating department it is known that Cambridge did decorate some Caprice. The #1338 3 light Candlesticks were made with the Rosepoint etching and some pieces of Caprice were decorated with a thin gold line around the rim. However there seems to be some confusion about silver and gold overlay items seen in Caprice. These are attributed to the Silver City Glass Company of Meridan, Connecticut. This Caprice was decorated by Silver City Glass for their own purposes and was not done for the Cambridge Glass Co. Cambridge was simply a supplier of raw materials for them. Any Caprice-like glass with silver or gold overlay seen on today's market was purchased by them from other glass manufacturing firms and are not Imperial products of Caprice. (For Silver overlay examples in Caprice, see Bennett-Plate 55-Row3.)

"Caprice captures the whim of dancing lights for your table."

Caprice has the distinct honor of having seven pairs of Candlesticks shown with its bountiful pattern list, from a 2½" single to the 3 light #1338 candlestick.

There is a great variety in Stemware available both in pressed and blown stems and tumblers.

Many smoking items are included in the Caprice line. Two sizes in cigarette boxes, two sizes in cigarette holders and a half-dozen different styles of ashtrays.

Individual shell almonds and the ash-tray-card-holder seem to be classified in both the Caprice and Shell pattern and are shown in catalog pages, department store brochures and ads as part of the Caprice pattern. So be it!

Some Caprice items come in three varieties. Three examples are:

  • 3 styles of Creamer and Sugars - regular, individual and oversized or large
  • 3 styles of Salt & Pepper shakers
  • 3 styles or sizes in of Jugs - 90 oz. Doulton and 80 oz and 32 oz. Ball type jugs.

Plates range in sizes from a 16" torte plate, 9½" dinner plate, two sizes in salad plate, 6½" bread & butter and coasters in both 3½" and 5½" sizes.

In many ways items shown as Caprice pose a mystery. Welkers Cambridge Glass In Color Book 2, plate 8, row 4 shows an 8½" Horn of Plenty in Moonlight Blue. Though it has a Caprice-like pattern, it does not appear with the pattern in any books I have, but is shown with the Pristine pattern. (Welkers Book 2 Catalog Reprints, Page 26.)

In my earlier days of collecting Moonlight Blue Caprice, I regret having limited myself to serving pieces. Now when I covet plates and cups and saucers I find the prices a little prohibitive. With cups and saucers at $25.00 a set and plates at not much less, I'll have to be happy with finding an occasional good buy.

Question: With all the Crystal Caprice made during the last years of Cambridge, why does there seem to be such a scarcity of crystal. There seems to be almost more Moonlight Blue. Any comments?

Reproductions and Looks-A-Likes

Guernsey Glass Company - 2" Caprice 4 footed almond from a Cambridge mold made in many colors - my example is Bennetts Alexandrite color. Marked with a B. A look-a-like mistake made several years ago. New Martinsville Cologne Medium Blue - #18 Queen Ann Pattern

In conclusion, to sum up a lovely Cambridge pattern, from a Department Store Brochure: Caprice-Beautiful-Distinctive-patterned in circling ripples that achieve an entirely new Modern beauty, yet harmonizing with early periods. Designed to associate agreeably with your finest table setting.