Transparent Colors, Part IX

by Mark A. Nye
Issue No. 197 - September, 1989

We ended the last time with a letter from the Cambridge Sales Manager, Mr. McCartney, to all Cambridge customers, which in essence told them of the end for many Cambridge colors. The letter lacks in detail, but the next available color listing, dated January 1945, included only three transparent colors: amber, amethyst and moonlight, along with crystal and the opaques coral and crown tuscan. (The latter two are believed to be the same color with different names for marketing purposes.)

At the present time, we have little Cambridge advertising dating to 1944, and none of what we have makes mention of color. Throughout 1945 and 1946 no specific mention of colors are made in Cambridge advertising. "Crystal and Colors" was used in many of the advertisements, but no precise indication of what was being made in color was provided.

At the present time, we have no 1940s price lists dated after January 1940. Thus, we are unable to determine what items were made in color between 1943 and the next known price list, which is dated June 1949. From a Cambridge diary for 1947, we know amber, moonlight and amethyst colored glass continued to be offered, and in all probability, Caprice was being made in crystal and moonlight throughout the 1940s.

The June 1949 price list makes mention of moonlight, amethyst, amber and to some extent, gold krystol. The latter was being used primarily for ashtrays and two tumblers, including the Georgian #319. All of the Caprice then being offered was available in both crystal and moonlight. Other use of color was mainly limited to smoker sets, tumblers, vases, decanter sets and a few candleholders being made in moonlight. The latter consisted of the 2½" and 4" stars, along with the #646, #647 and #1338 candlesticks.

August 1949 saw the introduction of two new colors, emerald and mandarin gold. As an example of how confusion regarding color names arises, an August 1949 news article from China, Glass and Decorative Accessories listed the new Cambridge Colors as "Emerald Green and Mandarin." Crockery and Glass Journal in its July 1949 issue had the following sentence in a news item, "Additional news from Cambridge: Some exclusive gift merchandise will also be shown, such as cigarette boxes, compotes, unusual console sets, vases and a short informal bridge set in two new colors - apple green and honey gold." It is from subsequent Cambridge price lists that the actual Cambridge names were identified as emerald and mandarin gold.

A new price list was issued in September 1950 and it contains more extensive listings for color than seen in the late 1940s, but the age of color, as it was known during the late 1920s, 1930s and on into the early 1940s, had passed into history. As a part of the color revival, ebony and carmen found their way back into the Cambridge line as early as the Spring of 1950, if not before. Some 30 pieces of ebony ware were being offered in the Fall of 1950; while in carmen, the #3103 stemware, three sizes of swans (3", 6½", and 8½"), the #3011 or Nude cocktail, and 14 other items were available.

From the March 1950 issue of China, Glass and Decorative Accessories comes the following:

"New at Cambridge Glass is the "Esquire" line of "stemware without stems," with crystal bowls and feet of crystal, ebony, emerald, carmine or amber, to retail at $18 per dozen. Very modern too, is the "Ebony" line of vases, bowls, ashtrays, candlesticks, etc. and the figure cocktail and cordial glasses are back with the crystal figure in the foot and bowl in amber, emerald, amethyst or mandarin gold, to retail at $1.50 apiece."

Game Set (Editors Note: the Esquire line includes the Game Set with club, heart, diamond and spade foot shapes, and originally included what is now known as the tuxedo line.)

The revived interest in color did not persist and by the fall of 1953, ebony and carmen had once again been discontinued and only limited use was being made of amber, amethyst, emerald and mandarin gold. Decanter sets, #1066 stemware, Jefferson stemware, four (4) jugs from the #3900 line (#115, #116, #117 and #118) along with two (2) tumblers (#115 and #117), Tall Joes, Little Joes, and the #3011 brandy and cocktail, along with a few other pieces were all that was offered in color when the October 1953 price list was issued.

The reopening of the factory in Spring 1955 was followed by another color revival. Two totally new colors, smoke and sunset, were brought out. Pink, amber and pistachio were reformulated and put into production, and production of amethyst, carmen, emerald and mandarin gold resumed with no discernible change in the colors. This was also true of moonlight, even though it was now being called moonlight blue.

Smoke is a medium shade of transparent gray and many pieces found in this color, when looked at very carefully, will have a strong suggestion of amethyst. sunset, a multicolored "color," is very similar to rubina. According to the book Colors in Cambridge Glass, sunset "is a beautiful dark red at the bottom of the item shading through yellow and sometimes green into a light transparent blue, topped off by a thin line of yellow and red at the top."

The reopen period amber is darker than its predecessors and this, plus shapes unique to the period during which it was used, will aid in its identification. The reopen pink is not unique even though it does differ somewhat from peach-blo (Dianthus pink) and la rosa, and can, in most cases, only be identified when found in a Cambridge shape used during the reopen years. The reopen pistachio, while it is a light transparent green, is not the same as the earlier color of the same name. Until the collector has become familiar with the late pistachio, the best means of identification is the piece itself. When discussing these three colors, the collector is urged to preface each name by "late" or "reopen," since there are earlier colors of the same name.

Among the items offered in color during 1956 were seven (7) items from the Nude line consisting of: the table goblet, saucer champagne, cocktail, brandy (then being called a cordial), ivy ball, comport and ashtray. The cordial was listed as then being made in amethyst, amber, emerald and mandarin gold; while the balance of the items were stated to be available in smoke, pink, mandarin gold, moonlight blue, pistachio and carmen. In addition to these colors, the cocktail continued to be available in amethyst, amber and emerald, as well. Crackled Nudes were also produced during 1956 and are listed in the 1956 price list as coming in pink, mandarin gold, moonlight blue, smoke and pistachio.

Other items offered in color during the reopen years included: tumblers, vases, ash trays, stemware lines #1066 and #1401 (Jefferson), and from the Georgian line the 5 oz. and 9 oz. tumblers, candy box and cover, two styles of handled baskets, and the 5 oz. sherbet. A complete listing of all items manufactured in color during the reopen years is beyond the scope of this article.

A new price list was published in 1958 and it was destined to be the last issued by the Cambridge Glass Co. Color continued to be a part of the Cambridge line with amber, amethyst, carmen, emerald, mandarin gold, moonlight blue, pink and smoke the listed colors. Gone were pistachio and sunset, but listed under colors was Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras is not a true color in the sense of pink or smoke, rather, Mardi Gras is crystal glass that has been rolled in flecks of colored glass prior to being formed into objects of rather unusual shapes, primarily vases. A few standard Cambridge items, including the Sea Shell #46 shell flower holder, are also known in Mardi Gras.

White Rain and Blue Cloud are similar to Mardi Gras, but preceded it by at least a year or more. Known in footed tumblers and stemmed sherbets, these were made using flecks of a light pink opaque and a light blue opaque glass respectively. Also known are items using orange flecks and these may have been called "Strawberry."

None of the existing price lists from the reopen period indicate that production of Caprice in moonlight blue took place during those years. Previously known (prior to the advent of reproductions) was an unexplained Caprice butter dish in moonlight blue. A few years ago, a number of turn cards used to indicate production became available to the club and among these have been found several showing production of moonlight blue Caprice occurring in late September 1956. To what extent it was produced or for how long is not known at this time.

There are indications addition colors were being developed during the reopen years, but now appear to have been produced commercially. With this, we have come to the end of the Cambridge transparent colors.

Only a fraction of the items manufactured in transparent colors have been discussed or listed in this series of articles that began almost a year ago. There is no comprehensive list of colored items, nor, practically speaking could one be generated. The interested reader is urged to study existing references and visit as many shops and glass shows as possible to obtain a wider knowledge of Cambridge in color.