Northwood's Crystal Queen and the Cambridge Connection

by Dr. James S. Measell
Issue No. 225 - January 1992

Over the past three years, I have been studying the glassmaking career of Harry Northwood, trying to put the finishing touches on the research begun by Bill Heacock about a decade ago. Now that the first book is on the market and the second soon to be published, I am pleased to report on Northwood's Crystal Queen pattern and its relationship to the Cambridge Glass Company.

This rather ornate pressed pattern was first made at the Northwood Glass Company in Indiana, PA in early 1897. By this time, Harry Northwood was well established as an American glassmaker. He immigrated to the Unites States in 1881, and after working at three different plants - Hobbs-Brockunier, the LaBelle Glass Co and the Phoenix Glass Co - he established a firm at Martins Ferry in 1888. This enterprise flourished and Northwood and his fellow investors relocated to larger quarters in the burgeoning town of Ellwood City, PA to reopen a glass factory there which had been idle for several years.

Northwood's Indiana based plant soon made its mark in the tableware industry, both financially and artistically. Northwood made opalescent glass in several colors and he developed ivory glass (collectors call this "custard" today.) A number of interesting patterns were developed; ruby opalescent glass was popular in the Opaline Brocade (Spanish Lace) motif; and Ivory glass was made in patterns such as Intaglio, Louis XV, Nautilus (Argonaut Shell) and Pagoda (Chrysanthemum Sprig).

The Crystal Queen pattern was Northwood's first venture into pressed glass at Indiana, and it was introduced with considerable fanfare. A January 1897 issue of China, Glass and Lamps carried this report: Northwood Ad "In pressed crystal tableware, which is a new departure with this company, the new pattern is an imitation cut line, made in excellent metal, which is well shown by the light in-cut lines of the pattern. The Crystal Queen, as the new line was called, has been decorated in gold, and shows off royally, as becomes her imperial majesty." The year 1897 was, of course, the 60th anniversary of Queen Victoria's ascension to the throne, so there is little doubt about the line's namesake.

The new Crystal Queen line, which was sold to embrace some 125 pieces, was touted with full page advertisements in three consecutive issues of China, Glass and Lamps (January, 13, 20 and 27, 1897) and ads were carried in Glass and Pottery World. The February 10, 1897 issue of China, Glass and Lamps devoted considerable column space to extolling the factory's virtues, complete with a thorough description and several illustrations of the Crystal Queen:

"The Northwood Co., which has been operating their fine new works at Indiana, PA since last spring, and took up the lines of fine blown colored art glass, plain and in decorations. Added to the large lines of artistic blown goods, in the manufacture of which Mr. Harry Northwood has always stood in the front rank, pressed tableware has been taken hold of with a vim.

Samples of the Crystal Queen, their new tableware pattern, are herewith shown. The fan shaped cut lines filling in the spaces between the main lines of the design. The main lines cross and interlap, the fields between being filled in with faceted squares which bring out the clear brilliant crystal very strongly. The large nappies and berry bowls of the set show off the pattern to very excellent advantage, and the line ranks among the best, not only because of its design and clear metal, but the variety of the shapes the various pieces are finished in. The Northwood Co. will hereafter be among those who will have to be reckoned with as makers of pressed ware of the medium and high grades, and new designs for another set are now being prepared, so as to round out their assortment of pressed goods, and cover a wide range of trade requirement."

Despite the positive editorial comment and the wealth of advertising, this was to be the last mention of Northwood's Crystal Queen in the trade press. The pattern probably did not sell well and the company redirected its efforts when this fact became apparent.

Of interest to collectors today is the fact that the pattern was made by the Cambridge Glass Company several years later. It was called simply #2589 in the 1903 Cambridge catalog (below), where 25 different articles were shown. At this time, both the Northwood plant at Indiana and the Cambridge works were controlled by the National Glass Company, so the old Northwood moulds were probably transferred to Cambridge.

There is no mention of gold decoration in the 1903 Cambridge catalog so this may have been an exclusive feature of Northwood's production of this short-lived pattern line.

Editor's Note: Antique Publications has published Dr. Measell's Harry Northwood: The Early Years, 1881-1901 and Harry Northwood: The Wheeling Years, 1901-1925 (OOP). For information or a complete catalog, write, Antique Publications, Box 533, Marietta, OH 45750. Their toll-free number for book orders is: 1-800-533-3433.

Cambridge 1906 Catalog