Transparent Colors, Part I

by Mark A. Nye
Issue No. 187 - November 1988

 The Age of Color at Cambridge began with the introduction of Azurite in 1922 and the past two months have seen a discussion of the Cambridge Opaque colors. (Note: Cambridge did produce colored glass prior to the 1920s and this includes opaque and transparent colors along with Carnival glass. However, little of this ware is seen today and there is about as much documentation as there are examples. Individuals interested in these early colors are referred to Colors in Cambridge Glass published by the National Cambridge Collectors.) This month we turn our attention to the transparent colors produced by Cambridge, beginning in the early 1920s and continuing until the demise of the company in the late 1950s.

Introduction of the first of the second generation transparent colors occurred in 1923 and the following appears to have been the "birth announcement" having appeared in the May 14, 1923 issue of China, Glass & Lamps.

"Cambridge Has New Line of Colored Glass Salad Plates

An extensive line of salad plates in colored glass recently has been added to the lines of the Cambridge Glass Co., Cambridge, O. The plates come in "Ebony", "Azurite", "Helio", "Primrose Yellow" and in new shades of topaz, light green and mulberry. Made of colored glass, the plates have both plain and star bottoms. The Cambridge factory offers the plates in plain colors as well as in decorations such as contrasting colored edges and in light cutting and gold encrustations.

In stemware, the Cambridge line has been increased by additions in colored glass. The new shades are topaz, light green and mulberry. The most wanted shapes come in the new colors, which should be of interest to those desiring something new and attractive in stemware."

The shades referenced as topaz and mulberry are those colors now known by the same names, while light green is now known as Light Emerald.

Crockery and Glass Journal, in the issue dated October 18, 1923, had this to say about the new colors:

" ... In transparent colors new things in emerald, mulberry and topaz, include the popular items in the fancy lines, such as console sets, jugs, plates, comports and stemware."

January 14, 1924 saw China, Glass & Lamps printing the following paragraph regarding the new transparent colors:

"A new line of amber glass, deep and rich in tone is offered for the first time. This is flat ware, and the pattern looks like very wide optic, but is pressed into the flange of the bowl. There is a very complete line of mulberry, topaz and emerald glass, of candlesticks, jugs, bowls, tumblers and stemware that is colorful and interesting. A very comprehensive line of colored glass salad plates made us wonder why salad was ever served on any other sort of plate, for the pale green of lettuce would enhance the value of these colors and the glass would make the salad all the more tempting. These plates match every style of glassware they make. Another interesting pattern in colored glassware had reserves in the gold border where flowers of the undecorated glass showed through. The various matching items are available in many colors."

"There are quite a number of new things at the Cambridge Glass Co."s display room at 184 Fifth Avenue, which have just been received. Two weeks ago round salad and dessert plates of glass were received in a variety of colors. The dessert plates have a rim raised in the center to keep the sherbet glasses from slipping. Both high and low sherbets are available with these plates. These have sold particularly well during the two weeks they have been here, and a day or so ago samples of the new salad and dessert plates in oval shape arrived. These are even more attractive than the round ones. They are made in a variety of transparent colors."

" ... Another color which seems to have quite general popularity is their cobalt blue, which is shown both plain and with encrustations of white and yellow gold, in a wide range of pieces and shapes. One table was devoted to console sets in all the lovely colors, both clear and opaque, that Cambridge makes." Excerpt from a column in the April 7, 1924 issue of China, Glass & Lamps.

The color cobalt blue mentioned in the preceding is a color known to Cambridge collectors as Cobalt Blue I. This is the first known trade journal reference to this color; however, there is no definite reference to it being new at the time.

The following month saw the following published:

"Just two days ago, the Cambridge Glass Co., 184 Fifth Avenue received the first samples of very attractive boudoir sets, consisting of a small covered jug, one glass and a well shaped tray, which are being made up in emerald, amber, mulberry, topaz and crystal, with band decorations and encrustations. At the same time, the first samples of gold encrusted colored stemware arrived - in cobalt, amber, mulberry and emerald."

Here again, cobalt is the color now referred to as Cobalt Blue I and emerald is Light Emerald. The other colors are known today by the names given.

Many collectors would like examples of the ware described in this paragraph that first appeared in the November 6, 1924 issue Crockery and Glass Journal.

""Cambridge Glass Co. has New Numbers"

Mah Jong decorations in gold on transparent glass in iced tea sets, party or luncheon sets, boudoir sets, etc. are a new departure of the Cambridge Glass Co., Cambridge, O. Many attractive numbers in mulberry, blue, green ,topaz and amber all with this new Chinese effect decoration are to be seen at the showrooms of the concern"s N.Y. office, 184 Fifth Ave., of which Alex Menzies is manager ... "

"Living up to its reputation of introducing each January most interesting developments in table and decorative glassware, the Cambridge Glass Co…has on display in Room 728 at the Fort Pitt Hotel unusual lines in block optic in the "Rubina" and new transparent colors, plain and decorated, are among the outstanding offerings in glassware."

Pitchers In "Rubina" glass, which can be had both plain and block optic, new shapes in comports, bowls, vases, candlesticks and other pieces have been developed. Especially attractive is the refreshment set in block optic "Rubina". This new glass is not one color but a natural three or more tone glass in which the predominating shades are red, green and blue, each tone diverging into the other." January 12, 1925 issue of China, Glass & Lamps.

The next color was announced during the summer of 1925 (at the very least, the first printed word about the color appeared then) and was described as follows in the column "New York Trade Notes", authored by Jane Littell and published in China, Glass & Lamps. The article also contained information regarding other new additions to the Cambridge line.

"An unusual number of lovely new things have arrived at the show rooms of the Cambridge Glass Co. ... since my last visit. The most important is a new color in glass known as Peachblo. It is made up in stemware and in footed and straight sided tumblers, in wide optic and may be had either undecorated or with an encrusted band and line treatment.

"The color is absolutely unique in modern glass. It has the warmth and sparkle of amber and the gayety of the du Barry rose, and is different from these, while combining the charms of both. The name Peachblo describes it perfectly.

"Mr. Graham tells me that he will soon have samples of ice tea sets, water sets, vanity sets, salad sets, etc., in the lovely new color. Of course, launching a new color is a serious matter, but I don"t see how this concern can avoid making their full line of fancy ware in the new Peachblo.

"The other two new lines are of equal importance. One is a full table service, with the exception of vegetable dishes, of undecorated colored glass. A table is set with this line in amber and it rates a lot of adjectives. There are service plates, salad plates, bread and butter plates, dessert plates, soup plates, grape fruits, sugars and creams, cold meat platters, cups and saucers, and stemware, all matching. Shown against a background of white, the effect is charming. For hot weather use, for tea, for luncheon, this service of glass is a novelty that ought to appeal rather widely to women who like to have unusual services for special occasions. It will never, of course, displace the elaborate china for formal occasions, nor is it intended to, but it has a use and charm all its own."

To be continued ...