Transparent Colors, Part IV

by Mark A. Nye
Issue No. 190 - February 1989

Three paragraphs in an article published in the February 1930 issue of China, Glass & Lamps are interesting for several reasons. They read:

"Among the new wares of the Cambridge Glass Co. on display was a line of gold-edged bowls and vases decorated with paneled urn etchings. These pieces came in green, Peach-Blo, Willow Blue, Madeira and crystal. There was also a new line of dinnerware, both square and six sided, carried out in the different pastel shades, and also in a new color that resembles old gold.

Bridge sets in the so-popular "Ebony" glass, the stemware having black feet and crystal bowls, were being shown, too, and a distinct novelty was the radio lamp. This lamp has an ebony base and bears a crystal figure through which a two-toned light radiates.

Early American bowls were on display in the Cambridge showrooms, also, in mystic blue, rose du Barry, "Krystol," cinnamon, jade and ebony. Etched crystal vases with ebony feet, some carrying gold edges, were being shown and there were also attractive vases in ebony, green and crystal, ornamented with clear glass decorations."

From this portion of the article it cannot be determined if the writer was describing items seen at the Pittsburgh trade show the previous month or at one of the Cambridge showrooms, probably New York. It is reasonably safe to assume the writer was not a Cambridge employee or someone from their advertising agency, based on the lack of knowledge of the correct name for the new gold color.

This is probably the last mention of Madeira and one wonders, was what the writer saw, really Madeira, and if so, why was it being shown at this time when other indications are it was in the process of being or already discontinued. This is particularly puzzling considering the time period, January-February, when Cambridge, like all companies, were seeking orders for the coming year. Why show Madeira if you are not going to produce it?

The first paragraph heralds the introduction of the #3400 line of dinnerware for this is the line described as "new line of dinnerware, both square and six sided."

The last paragraph with its mention of what appears to be five new color names leaves the reader wondering what did the writer see. In a April 1930 Ad Cambridge advertisement, published for the following April, we get more information from the statement, "Made in jade, Rose-DuBarry, Mystic and other Satin Finish effects." and, from "This four piece console set is another winner from our Satin Finish line. Can be had in various colors including jade, Cinnamon, Krystal, Rose-DuBarry and Mystic."

A few months prior, October 1929, Alden Welles published an article entitled "Cambridge Glass: A notable Landmark on the Road of the Progressive American Glassware Industry" in The Crockery and Glass Journal and from it comes the following paragraph.

"Here are all types of glassware, such as the increasingly popular dinner or luncheon services, tastefully arranged with their matching stemware, shimmering with the subtle pale blue of Montana sapphires, a blue that rivals the sea-green tint of aquamarines. Round or decagon shaped, these blue sets, called "Willow Blue" are contrasted with others in emerald green, delicate pink called "Peach-Blo," Madeira or light Amber, and plain or etched Crystal. Belonging with them are centerpieces, large bowls in three distinct shapes; the so-called "cabaret shape,' the flat rimmed, the roll edge; these bowl have figures of mounted Indians hunting bison, in low relief, and are "satin finished," making them semi-opaque, each color having a name of its own: "Mystic (willow) blue," "Rose du Barry" (Peach-Blo), Jade green, Cinnamon or amber. Figure Flower holders and candlesticks complete the ensemble."

As hinted at in the preceding paragraph, these names do not represent actual new colors, but rather acid treatment of pieces made in existing colors, producing a Satin Finish. The colors used in this line of Satin Finish wares are:

  • Willow Blue -- Mystic
  • Peach-Blo -- Rose du Barry
  • Emerald -- Jade
  • Amber -- Cinnamon
  • Crystal -- Krystal

Only the pattern side of the glass was acid treated and there were two distinct uses of this treatment. One style has the pattern completely in a satin finish, while the other leaves highlights unfrosted or clear.

For the most part, The Satin Finish line consisted of items from the existing Springtime and Everglade lines. Among known exceptions are figural flower holders and the #646 candlesticks (commonly called ring or keyhole sticks). Items in the Satin Finish line were completely frosted on the pattern side and the reader is referred to Colors in Cambridge Glass for illustrations of this line.

In addition to the Satin Finish line, Cambridge also promoted the "La Fleur" line as described in this paragraph taken from China, Glass and Lamps, April 1930,

"The Cambridge Glass Co., Cambridge O., has a wide range and choice of brand new items that are now being featured. These are all on display in the New York showrooms, 184 Fifth Avenue. Any of these is unusually well suited for gift purposes, and it can be truthfully said that the firm without a doubt has the best line it has ever shown. Illustrated and typical of these new things are a bowl and vase. In vases, this assortment presents five different sizes, shapes and patterns in a color selection of jade, krystol and ebony. It is known as the "La Fleur" line, and bears this name as each treatment features a different type of flower. 1930 Advertisement The flowers are raised and in clear effect, which is in pleasing contrast with the frosted body. This idea is carried out also on the bowls, which are shown in four different shapes. It might be mentioned here that these bowls are particularly adapted to the Cambridge figure flower holder which is so well known and has become so popular."

Shown in the accompanying illustration (right) were the Springtime vase #1252 and bowl #1255. The other four vases and three bowls were also from the Springtime line. In the author"s collection is the #1256 oval bowl in Jade.

The following year, February 1931, saw this statement appearing in a China, Glass and Lamps article on Cambridge:

"A new line of vases known as the "La fleur" in crackled effect with floral designs in relief was most interesting in all the colors made by Cambridge."

While this might be a new line, it is more than likely a poor description of the "La Fleur" line as it was previously described; a frosted background with clear floral highlights.

There is evidence, but in my opinion not conclusive, that the entire Satin Finish line was also known as Springtime. As shown in the 1930 Cambridge catalog, the Springtime line might be satin finished and The Crockery and Glass Journal in February 1930, included the following:

"One of the newest and most appealing lines of special glassware to appear on the market for 1930 is the "Springtime" line being introduced by the Cambridge Glass Co. Flower bowls, console sets, vases, etc., are included in the Springtime offering which is striking with its embossed design in clear glass which is emphasized by a frosted background."

However, much of what is found today does not have the clear highlights, i.e. is completely frosted on the pattern side and hence it is these pieces that constitute the Springtime line, if in fact the Springtime line consisted only of frosted items. The one known Cambridge advertisement for this treatment makes no mention of Springtime, referring instead to the Satin Finish line.

Pieces with the embossed design in clear or unfrosted glass with a frosted background, in this author"s view, constitute the La Fleur line as it was originally described in the April issue of China, Glass and Lamps.

Apparently both the Satin Finish and La Fleur lines were of limited production since pieces from these lines are infrequently seen today.

To be continued ...