Notes on Caprice

by Mark Nye
Issue #91 - November 1980

Being an avid Caprice collector, I am always seeking additional information about this pattern. In the past year of so I have acquired several unusual Caprice pieces and discovered information I would like to share with other Caprice collectors and Cambridge enthusiasts in general.

The first piece is a four footed, 2 handled, oval bowl that is definitely a different size from the #65, 11" bowl of a similar description listed on the January 1941 price lists (see C.B. issue #46, page 5). This bowl is in moonlight blue and was obtained while at the 1980 NCC Convention. I have since seen the same bowl in crystal. A comparison of the dimensions of the two bowls is interesting.

Dimension #65 #???
Width (outside to outside) 8½" 6½"
Length (outside to outside)
Excluding handles
12" 9¼"
Height - Table to highest point 4¼" 5"
Base length - excluding legs 4" 4"
Base width - excluding legs 3" 3"
End - top to base 5" 5"
Side - top to base 4½" 4½"
Inside width 7¾" 5¾"
Inside length 11½" 8½"

Based on these dimensions, I would think the bowl was sold as an 8" version of the #65 and was made from the same mold. The increased dimensions of the #65 bowl resulted from spreading the warm glass upon removal from the mold, while the 8" bowl was left as it came from the mold.

Where this new piece fits into the Caprice numbering scheme, I can't determine. Except for the three salad bowls, nos. 80, 81 and 82, all of the other large bowls are numbered between 49 and 66, however, several numbers are missing. Parallel with the bowls listed as nos. 57, 58, 60, 61 and 62, there are smaller versions numbered 49, 50, 52, 53, and 54. Each small bowl is listed by a number that is eight less than the larger size. Unfortunately this dies not hold true for our mystery bowl since #57 (65 minus 8) is described as a 10" salad bowl, four footed. Thus, until such time that a catalog or price list reference is discovered, its item number shall remain unknown. My guess is that our mystery bowl was introduced prior to or at the same time as the #65 bowl and that the item number will be in the grouping of #49-66.

The second piece indicates there is another series of vases different from those listed on the January 1941 price list and pictured in the Welker Catalog Reprint II, page 35. I have a crystal vase that measures 8¼" in height and appears to be identical to the #343 vase with the exception of the top. My vase has a smooth top with no ribs in the short neck while the #343 has a ribbed neck and the rim is similar to that found on other Caprice pieces. How many sizes there may be in this type of case I don't know, but there are at least two, the 8¼" and a 4½" which I have as part of a lamp (see next paragraph). Caprice LampMy guess, and it is just a guess, is that the item numbers will turn out to be 347, 348 and 349, assuming there is an intermediate size (approximately 6") as in the other vases. Again, confirmation of this will have to await discovery of a catalog listing.

Now for the lamp I mentioned earlier. This piece was also acquired at the 1980 NCC Convention and shortly thereafter I learned of a similar lamp in Moonlight Blue that is in another Caprice collection. While it is very doubtful these lamps were assembled by Cambridge, they do utilize two Caprice pieces and can rightfully be called Caprice lamps.

The Caprice items used are the base to the #207 cigarette box and the small version of the vase described in the preceding paragraph. Holes have been drilled in the bottoms of the two items, metal tops placed on them and a metal tube extends up through the two pieces with a 1" metal spacer between the two glass parts A standard single bulb fixture with a press switch and a shade holder complete the lamp. From the base to the top of the finial the height is 16 and one-eight inches. My lamp is in crystal with the metal parts gold in color. It is not know at this time what company actually assembled these lamps or the years when they were produced Hopefully some reference to them will turn up eventually in old trade journals or other advertisements.

While reading the information available in the Research Room at the 1979 NCC Convention, I came across page two of a Cambridge Glass Co. Circular Letter, Number 163, dated July 25, 1939, which referenced the Caprice #400 line stemware. The only information given was the availability of the line in crystal and moonlight blue, plus a listing of the available pieces. The items listed were: 10 oz. goblet; 7 oz. tall sherbet, 3½ oz. cocktail, 5 oz. low sherbet, and 5 oz., 10 oz. and 12 oz. footed tumblers. Page 1 of the letter was missing and no other reference to a #400 line of Caprice stemware was found.

Again this year I went through all available information and still no luck as no additional reference could be found. Questioning several knowledgeable Cambridge experts also produced no results. To date I have only these two pieces of information regarding this unknown line: Fist, the fact that it was available in July 1939 and the pieces that comprised the line; and second, that there is no reference to #400 stems in the January 1940 catalog, only five months later.

I suspect the #400 line might have been a version of the pressed stems and tumblers, number 1-12. This is based on matching capacities and the duplication of pieces in the Caprice line, but obviously I have no real evidence to support this supposition.

The next bit of information I'd like to share is on the #310 12 oz. Tumbler (see C.B. issue #45, page 7). A circular letter #96 dated October 5, 1938 describes the availability on special order only of this tumbler marked with a line to indicate 1.5 oz of whiskey. This was designed to alleviate the need for a shot glass or other measuring device while mixing hi-balls and still obtain an accurate measure. I would doubt this promotion lasted for any length of time and since tumblers so marked were special order only, they would have to be a scarce, if not rare, piece today. I have yet to see one.

The last bit of information I have regards Caprice look-a-likes. During a recent visit to the Viking Factory Outlet Store, I saw three pieces very similar to Caprice: a cake stand; a shallow 10" four footed bowl; and a large four footed cabaret plate. The unwary could mistake these for Caprice, but close scrutiny revealed some distinguishing characteristics.

The overall quality of Cambridge glass just isn't there. The base to the cake stand is entirely different than that used for the authentic Caprice piece The feet on the other two pieces are devoid of any detail, opposed to the ribs that are found on the feet to Caprice items. The clerks in the store had no knowledge of the pieces but I would assume they are being made for another company which will in turn apply silver overlay although I have never seen a cake stand so decorated. Be aware of these pieces, their distinguishing features and pass them up at your local flea it they should appear.

Caprice, like some other Cambridge patterns, is a never ending source of surprises to the collector. No doubt it will be some years before we have the full Caprice story. I would appreciate hearing from readers who have additional information regarding any of the above items.