Opaque Colors, Part II

by Mark A. Nye
Issue No. 186 - October 1988

It was 1924 that saw the introduction of two more opaques, Jade and Ivory. However, trade journals from that year did not give the attention to these colors that had been given to previous Cambridge colors.

Jade has been described as "a medium green opaque having soft appearance. Shading of the color trends toward the blue side of the spectrum rather than toward the yellow. It will sometimes be found with lighter (almost white) streaking through the piece."

"Ivory is a light cream opaque very similar to the material from which its name was derived. Colors of this hue by Cambridge and other companies are commonly called "Custard" but the correct Cambridge name is Ivory. The light hue of this color made it ideal background base for many of the applied decorations of this time period." Hence it will be found with many decorations including the Willow etching encrusted with blue enamel. Jade will be found decorated in much the same manner as Azurite.

" ... Other tables and shelves show groups of the lovely colored glass for which the Cambridge Glass Company is justly famous. The newest colors are a lovely opaque yellow called Primrose, which is complete without decoration because of the color and the good lines of the pieces - although it is available with gold encrustations, if it is wanted that way, and a soft Ivory which was brought out the first of this year, which is made the more attractive by encrustations of gold."

From the column, "New York Trade Notes" written by Jane Littell and published April 7, 1924.

Even though there were new Cambridge opaque colors for 1924, Azurite and Ebony continued to be popular as witnessed by this article, quoted here in part, appearing in the January 14, 1924 issue of China, Glass and Lamps: "When such a wealth of beauty as in the display of the Cambridge Glass Co. of Cambridge O., stares the reporter in the face, it is hard to pick the most distinctive things to write about. Doric candlestick and Rams head bowl The Cambridge display is in Room 728 at the Fort Pitt Hotel. Here was a compote set in Azurite - that lovely bright blue - done in the Wedgewood manner, with the embossment and the ram"s head handles we have always associated with the Wedgewood earthenware patterns known as Belmar. Candlesticks with square top and base match the bowl.

"Here also was mottled gold and colored line of five colors, with gold edge line on all pieces, and a black glass base for some. Especially good was a line of black glass with gold encrusted fleur-de-lis design in wide bands, and some black vases with encrusted gold borders an inch and a half wide ... ."

Under the somewhat unusual headline of "Cambridge Glass Co. has new Numbers" Crockery and Glass Journal had this to say in November 1924:

" ... Other interesting new numbers of perfume bottles in new shapes, tall and slender. These come in ivory, jade, cobalt, ebony black, helio, azurite blue and primrose with yellow gold or white gold encrustations in band effect. These come also in various transparent and sprayed colors, all novelties which make a strong appeal, especially to holiday and general gift trade."

After 1924, the major trade journal contained no mention of the Cambridge opaque colors with the exception of Ebony, which from time to time was referenced. Another exception is a brief mention, quoted below, of a color that may or may not be an opaque: "Another new glass is the "Onyx" which is a light tan shade with or without decorations."

It is the last words "with or without decorations" that lead me to feel this might be an opaque color. At this time no other information about this color has surfaced.

There was one other Cambridge opaque color during the 1920s and it is the one today"s collectors have named "Avocado." Quoting from Colors in Cambridge Glass by N.C.C., Inc., "Avocado is a rich green opaque that tends toward the yellow side of the green spectrum. The name "Avocado" has been affixed to this color by collectors of Cambridge Glass. No reference to the name has been found in any trade publication or company literature. The shapes found lead us to believe that it had limited production in the 1927-28 time period." The reader is referred to Plate 26 in Colors in Cambridge Glass to see both the color and some of the shapes found in this color. The shapes include items from both the Round and Plain ware lines. A goblet in this color, etched Imperial Hunt Scene and then gold encrusted is known and illustrated in the previously mentioned book.

While no definite date for the discontinuance of this group of opaque colors has been established, based on the shapes and decorations found as well as the absence of trade journal references, it would appear they were no longer in the Cambridge line by the late 1920s and most certainly by 1930. The one exception to this being Ebony which was carried in the Cambridge line until at least the initial plant closing in 1954.

In late summer 1932, the color Crown Tuscan was introduced. Described at the time as an "opaque glass with its rich cream-like color," Crown Tuscan was featured in two articles published in the February and march 1986 issue of the CRYSTAL BALL and the reader is referred to those articles for a discussion of this color. Crown Tuscan did remain in the Cambridge line until the plant closing in 1954. In 1935 the color Coral appeared as one of the colors used for the Sea Shell line. It is generally believed this is not a unique color; rather, Crown Tuscan with a new name that sounded better with the Shell line. By 1949 the Coral name had been dropped and the remaining items in the Shell line were listed in Crown Tuscan.

During July 1937, the color Windsor Blue was brought out. Again, quoting from Colors in Cambridge Glass:

"Windsor Blue ... is a tone of icy blue in opaque glass used predominantly in the Sea Shell line. A few exceptions have been found in other lines, such as the Tally-Ho shaker ... Extensive research has yielded no additional information on this color."

Windsor Blue is paler than Azurite and is sometimes described as "blue milk glass." It was apparently a short-lived color and is infrequently seen today.

In the early days of 1954, two new opaques were brought to market, Milk and Ebon. These were recently covered in articles dealing with the 1950s published in the months preceding the 1988 N.C.C. Convention. Both Ebon and Milk were short lived, as their production did not resume with the plant reopening in 1955. Enough production did occur, however, that samples of either color are readily obtainable today.

A collection containing examples of all the production opaque colors discussed here can be assembled with diligent searching and without great expense. Some will be more difficult to find than others. Azurite probably being the easiest to locate with the early Ebony being one of the hardest.

Two other opaque colors must be mentioned prior to closing and those are Opal and Turquoise from the first years, circa 1903. Samples of these colors are rarely seen and somewhat difficult to attribute to Cambridge when found. The reader is referred to the book Colors in Cambridge Glass, published by the N.C.C., Inc. for more information on these colors.