The Cambridge Glass Company from 1873 Until Closing in 1958

by Trudy Gray
Issue No. 109 - May 1982

Editor's Note: The following article was prepared by Miss Trudy Gray for a school assignment. Now a Senior and Honor Student at Cambridge High School, Trudy was 16 when she did this assignment. After High School Graduation, she will be attending Mt. Union College in Affiance, Ohio. She is the daughter of NCC members Tom and Deanne Gray of Cambridge. Like her parents, she too, is interested in Cambridge Glass and is collecting Cambridge salts and demitasse cups. Her father collects Georgian tumblers and her mother Georgian baskets and Near Cut. Trudy does the cataloguing or inventory of the family's collections.

It was in the year 1873 that the Cambridge Glass Company idea was first born. As glass was being successfully manufactured in neighboring cities and states, it was decided by a group of eight men to locate a glass factory in Cambridge, Ohio, due mainly to the abundant supply of the necessary natural resources needed to produce glass. Incorporation papers were drawn up by the group and a charter was granted by the state. After several meetings and the passing of time, nothing developed in the way of a factory, and conclusions were that the promoters had difficulty convincing stock buyers, and the financial requirements were not reached to finance the project, thus forcing abandonment of plans for the factory.

In later years, no other plans were circulated with the initial attempt to locate a glass house in Cambridge until 1901 when the idea became a reality. A group of men, Myron Case, Casey Morris, Addison Thompson, Andy Herron, and Fred Rosemond who were owners of the National Glass Company of Pennsylvania, decided that the Cambridge area was an ideal location for a glass factory. At that time, they applied to the state for a charter and were advised that the initial charter for the Cambridge Glass Company granted in 1873 had never been cancelled and still existed. After some research and several obstacles were overcome, the incorporators received the incorporation papers and began to search for a qualified man to manage the factory. Already being involved in the glass business, these men know of all the glass factories and outlets in the East, which gave them a good selection of qualified men to choose from. After extensive searching, Arthur J. Bennett of New York City was the man chosen for the management post. Mr. Bennett was from England and had served his apprenticeship there in the glass and pottery trade.

After the management and financial steps were completed, it was up to A.J. Bennett to make a success of the Cambridge Glass Company; and this he did. It was in May of 1902 that the factory turned out it's first piece of glass, a crystal water pitcher designed by Mr. Bennett. During the next two years, the National Glass Company ran into financial difficulties and soon the Cambridge Company followed, as the National Company was the power behind it. Mr. Bennett managed to keep the plant in operation for three years and realized that if financial backing wasn't available soon, the factory would be forced to close. A proven businessman, Mr. Bennett decided to risk his life savings and singlehandedly purchased the Cambridge Company for about $500,000, financing most of it through a local bank. Within a short time, the Cambridge Glass Company was again beginning to prosper, and on May 11, 1911 it expanded and purchased from Charles M. Schott another factory in Byesville, Ohio, under the name of The Byesville Glass Company. The name was changed to the Cambridge Glass Company - Byesville Plant. It was at this time that the first Cambridge trademark came into being - the Near Cut mark. Within the next few years, many of the first etched patterns came about, several of which got their names from the Bennett Family; such as the Marjorie, Martha, Betty, and Gloria patterns.

During the year 1916, things slowed down quite a bit and in 1917 it was decided to close down the factory in Byesville and transfer operations back to the Cambridge plant. Mr. Bennett decided to introduce a variety of opaque colored items into the line. Soon there were over 700 employees working three shifts a day, turning out the opaque colors, crystal tableware, transparent colors, and pharmaceutical items from the 56 pots of glass.

The company operated its own coal mines, and consumed fifty tons daily in producing gas for the melting furnaces. Production went well and many new colors and designs were turned out by Mr. Bennett and his staff. By 1939, Cambridge Glass was known world wide and showrooms were maintained in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Denver, Philadelphia, and Dallas. Representatives were in fifteen different states and several countries; London, England; Havana, Cuba; Toronto, Canada; Sydney, Australia; and Wellington, New Zealand.

During the peak of the Cambridge Glass Company, Mr. Bennett served as president of the company; his son-in-law, W.L. Orme as vice-president; Mrs. Bennett as director; W.C. McCartney as secretary; G. Roy Boyd as treasurer, and J.C. Kelly as factory superintendent. In 1939, Mr. Bennett sold the controlling interest to his son-in-law. Mr. Orme continued to create many new designs and colors. The Cambridge Square pattern of 1950 won top honors across the United States for its modern design. During the early 50's, demand for fine hand made glass was decreasing, while competition and cost of manufacturing were increasing. In 1954, Mr. Orme decided the best solution to these problems was to close the plant. So came an end to one of the best and most prosperous glass factories the world has ever known.

Shortly after closing, the company was sold to a firm headed by Sidney Albert of Akron. The plant reopened in March of 1955. Sales were very poor and in May of 1956, Morrison Industries Ltd. of Boston, Mass., acquired possession. Sales continued to be slow and the company closed its doors for the final time in 1958. In November of 1960, Imperial Glass Company of Bellaire, Ohio, acquired the patents, trademarks, and any molds that were left.

Editor's Note: It is interesting and refreshing to find young people involved in collecting - especially Cambridge Glass. We would be most interested in hearing from other young people of high school age or younger who are interested in, or collecting Cambridge Glass. Let us know who you are, what you like and collect, how you became interested, what you would like to add to your collection, etc. Send us pictures of you and/or items from your collection if you like. We do not publish addresses and will even keep your name confidential if you specify. Hope to hear from you.