"Caprice - America's Favored Table Crystal"

It has been some time since we have published any additional information on Caprice and since new information has been unearthed in the past year or so, I felt it was time we devoted an article to Caprice. The above headline is quoted from the February 1944 issue of Crockery and Glass Journal.

To say there has been no recent new information is not entirely correct. In the June 1985 issue of the Cambridge CRYSTAL BALL, two Lotus Company catalog pages were reprinted. (Webmaster's Note: Those two pages are relocated to the supplemental page for this article. See information at the end of this article.) One of these pages pictured the Lotus "non-tarnish sterling silver deposit decoration No. 75 Ivy" on several Cambridge Caprice items. That Lotus used Caprice blanks is not surprising since they bought blanks from any available supplier. The items shown were: the Caprice #136 7" tall comport shown as the Lotus #610; Caprice #152 6" 2-hdld. lemon plate shown as Lotus #615; Caprice #131 8" low ftd. 2 hdld. plate shown as Lotus #614; Caprice #102 9" pickle shown as the Lotus #616 9" oval tray; Caprice #110 twin salad dressing bowl shown as Lotus #613; Caprice #124 relish shown as Lotus #611; and the Caprice #120 relish shown as Lotus #612. The other three pieces shown on this same page that are sometimes confused as Caprice, but are in fact from the Seashell Line, are the Lotus #606, #608 and #609.

In addition, another Lotus catalog page shows the Caprice items #59 (Lotus #600) and #28 (Lotus #617); as well as a 9" version of the Caprice #62 (Lotus #601) 4 ftd. belled bowl. No Caprice number has yet been associated with the latter bowl and this does represent a new item in the Caprice line.

The astute Caprice collector will also have noted that Caprice item #59 is also a previously unlisted piece. It is an 11" 4 ftd. deep taper bowl, made in crystal as well as moonlight and there is also a 9½" version of this same bowl, known as the #51. These two bowls, along with the yet unnumbered 9" belled bowl were in the Caprice line for only a short period during the early years of the line, perhaps only during 1936-37, and were definitely discontinued by 1939.

I have in my collection a 4 ftd. plate that measures too close to 15" to be a 14" or 16" plate. While no catalog or price list reference has yet been found for a 15" plate, I suspect my plate may be a #29 since: 1) no item #29 is yet known; 2) the 14" plate is #28; and 3) the 16" plate is #30. There is often a slight deviation from any stated size but it is rarely, if ever, as much as a full inch, and hence, I feel I do have an authentic 15" 4 ftd. Caprice plate.

Another item, new to Caprice collectors, that apparently did not remain in the Caprice line for any length of time is the #68 candleholder made from the #204 triangle cigarette holder. Externally there is no difference between the two items; internally it is another story with the #68 having a candle well or socket in the bottom. A single mold would have been used for both pieces with a different plunger for each item.

There is a second Caprice #68 candleholder described as "5 inch candlestick," listed on a revised page to the October 1953 price list. This page was probably not issued until the Spring of 1954 and, in addition to the #68 candleholder, there are four other items on this revised Caprice price list that are not found on any other known price list and furthermore are known only through their listing on this page and in the Mold Order Book for the years 1950-57.

The #68 5" Caprice candlestick is known only through this single reference as it does not appear in any other price list, the Mold Order Book, or on a physical inventory taken at the Cambridge factory in March of 1955. Based on these facts, I am of the opinion this item was never made and as to what its shape or style would have been, cannot be determined.

Three additional Caprice vases, #77, #78 and #79, are also listed on the revised Caprice listing from the 1953 price list. We do, however, have more information on these pieces. From the Mold Order Book we learn plans to order optic blocks to impart the Caprice pattern to existing vases were made in June 1954. The Caprice #77 was to have been an 8" vase, made from the #6004 molds; the #78, a 9" vase from the #1237 vase; and the #79 was to have been an 11" vase shaped like a #1238 vase. There is no evidence any of these vases were ever made. They do not appear in the 1956-58 catalog nor are they on any price list from the reopen period. In addition, these items do not appear on any physical inventory taken during the reopen years. Collectors should be aware there is at least one Morgantown optic pattered vase that looks similar to Caprice and is probably their Palm Optic pattern.

Similarly, we have the Caprice 137 5¼" blown comport that also appears to never have been made. It was to have had a stem like the Caprice #301 line of stemware (which in turn came from the #3790 or Simplicity stemware) and a blown bowl. The mold for the stem portion of the #137 was probably never made or delivered to Cambridge since the order was logged on June 17, 1954, just several weeks before the plant closing. The blown comport fails to appear on any documents from the reopen period, i.e. price lists and physical inventories; hence the opinion it was never made.

The Mold Order Book entry for the Caprice #15 cup with open handle, dated June 17, 1954 was very clearly marked "Cancelled" and thus we know this item was never produced regardless of the fact it appeared on a price list. This #15 cup was to have served as the punch cup as well as an open handled coffee or tea cup.

The punch bowl itself was first made sometime between February 1954 and plant closing the following July since the order for the mold was recorded in February 1954 and eight Caprice punch bowls were found during a physical inventory taken in March 1955. We do know more punch bowls were made since larger quantities appear on subsequent physical inventory lists even though price lists issued in 1956 and later failed to list this Caprice item. By the way, the Caprice punch bowl retailed for $10 each in 1954.

The Caprice quarter pound butter dish may or may not have been made prior to the initial plant closing in 1954. The mold was not ordered, it would appear, until April 1954 and no Caprice #52 was listed on the March 1955 physical inventory. Surprisingly, no Caprice butter is listed on the December 1956 physical inventory even though this item does appear on both of the 1956 price lists as well as in the 1956-58 catalog and the 1958 price list. Based on the scarcity of this item today, it would appear not a large number were made by Cambridge, no matter when they were produced, and furthermore, more frustrating is the fact that Imperial also used this mold. As it has been said before, there is no known way to distinguish between Cambridge and Imperial crystal Caprice.

The #125 12" 3-part celery and relish is known in two styles, one with a plain bottom and one with a patterned bottom. It can now be reported the older of the two styles is the one with the plain bottom which dates to a 1951 introduction while the figured bottom relish dates primarily to the reopen period with production possibly first occurring during the final weeks prior to the 1954 plant closing.

There were plans, during the late spring of 1954, to discontinue the Caprice #38 sugar and cream and replace this set with a #44 cream and sugar. The plans for this new set were carried as far as creating wooden models and, just prior to the July 1954 closing, orders for the molds for these new items were placed and then canceled. The #38 cream and sugar were left in the line as they appear on all price lists from the reopen years.

The June 1949 price list offered Caprice #300 stemware and a limited number of other items decorated with D/1018 or gold stippled edge. It would appear, because of the infrequency with which such items are seen today, this combination was not in production for any great length of time and in fact, it had been discontinued prior to September 1950. In addition to the stemware, items #23, #37, #38, #39, #40, #120, #127, #129, #130, #132, #133, #136, #151, #152 and #154 were decorated with D/1018.

It is possible the #112 footed and handled twin salad dressing bowl was discontinued earlier than originally believed. This item appears on a price list from the fall of 1939 but does not appear on the January 1040 price list even though it is pictured in the January 1940 catalog. While the #112 might have been inadvertently omitted from the 1940 price list, my guess is a decision to discontinue this item was made after the preparation of the 1940 catalog was well under way and too late to remove the illustration and prior to generation of the price list.

Acquisition of a Caprice vase in Cambridge milk glass and the opportunity to examine the remaining Caprice vase molds in the basement of Imperial last winter enabled me to report that the vases in the #337 and #340 group with the altered pattern on the neck are the newer of the two known styles. New molds were not made; rather, the existing molds had been modified by removing a portion of the top and adding a piece with a new pattern. Why the change? That still remains a mystery.

Caprice, a never ending source of surprises, remains as popular now as it has been for almost fifty years.

Webmaster's Note: The three Lotus Glass Company Catalog pages can be found on a separate page. This was done to accomodate visitors who are on a dial-up line. Click on the above link to see the pages. The Catalog pages may load slowly.