Cambridge at 20

by Mark A. Nye
Issue No. 240 - April 1993

The Cambridge Glass Co., as we know it, was incorporated in 1901 but its first piece of glass was not made until May 1902. For purposes of this article I have taken the liberty of using May 1902 as Cambridge's birthday, During the following twenty years Cambridge grew from the "new kid on the block" to a major handmade glass company. The first part of this article consists of a review of those first twenty years of production.

During the first year or so of production at the new Cambridge factory, most of the wares produced were from molds brought in from other companies within the National Glass Co. consortium. The 1903 Cambridge catalog contained nothing original to the company. This had all changed by 1906 when the NEARCUT lines were fast becoming best sellers.

Marjorie, Fernland and Lotus were now in the Cambridge line and Lotus was featured in 1906 trade advertising. The following, taken from the February 24, 1906, issue of China, Glass and Lamps, illustrates just how well Cambridge was doing at the time:

"The Cambridge, 0. Glass Co. report that affairs are in excellent shape at their plant. The three furnaces are in operation with 36 shops employed including two caster place shops, three iron mold shops, nine single and twenty-two double press shops and steady work is the rule. Prospects for a steady run to the end of the fire are good. President A. J. Bennett has just returned from a trip to New York, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh in the interest of the company and reports conditions as very satisfactory."

Later in the year, after the summer break and refiring of the furnaces, this item appeared in the November 24 issue of CGL:

"Three furnaces each of 14 pots manned by 36 shops are in full operation at the plant of the Cambridge 0., Glass Co. This company produces a fine quality of glass and they will soon be out with several delightful surprises. It is safe to predict that the new No. 2650 ten-inch salad plate and the elaborate No. 2657 line will be easy winners as well as their many handsome patterns of the Near Cut lines and the enticing and entirely out of the ordinary toy sets in crystal, green and blue."

During the early years not all went well for the company and its workers as witnessed by this March 1907 news item:

"One of the worst floods in the history of the Guernsey Valley visited the Cambridge, 0., district last week. Thursday evening about 6 o'clock the water got in the producers at the Cambridge Glass Co's plant and put the fire out, causing the factory to close down for the balance of the week. On Wednesday night the entire portion of the glass plant addition known locally as the "Desert", became flooded and the employees living in that section were unable to get to work Thursday morning. Some of the glass workers had the greater part of their furniture ruined by the water."

By December 1907, the National Glass Co. the parent company of Cambridge and a number of other companies, was in receivership. However, this did not affect operations of the Cambridge Glass Co.

Cambridge exhibited at the 1908 Pittsburgh show and these lines are excerpted from the CGL issue of January 11:

"The new ribbon pattern that he has a big display of is so very near some cut glass lines that are right up to date that a close look is necessary to discover the difference. Then there is a star pattern that is equally deceptive, together with the wheat sheaf and feather cut lines."

"NATIONAL GLASS PLANTS TO BE SOLD" was the headline in the June 6, 1908, issue of CGL. Of course, included in the list of plants to be sold was the Cambridge factory. Again, production at the Cambridge factory continued normally. Eventually, Mr. Bennett was able to purchase the Cambridge Glass Co. and its facilities from the National Glass Co. bond holders.

Quoting from the March 27, 1909, issue of CGL:

"The Cambridge Glass Co., Cambridge, 0., are now completing their seventh successful year and have operated their plant right along. They have never shut down owing to slack orders, having only closed three days last July."

Later that year, Cambridge had a problem with one of its furnaces as told in this news item dated September 11, 1909:

"A portion of the crown of No. 3 furnace at the Cambridge Glass Co's factory collapsed a week ago. It was thought the fire would have to be put out and a new crown placed in the furnace. However, it was repaired without putting out the fire."

October 1909 saw a notice of a new general catalog being published and an announcement that Mr. Bennett was expecting to place the Byesville, 0. glass plant into operation as a part of the Cambridge Glass Co.

"Prosperous Conditions at Cambridge was the caption of a paragraph printed in the November 13, 1909, issue of CGL. The paragraph went on to say:

"Business at the Cambridge Glass Co's works was never as good as it is at the present time. Three furnaces and one day tank are in operation, while a new day tank, just completed, has fire in and will be melting glass sometime this week. The company recently purchased eight more presses, mostly small ones, for use in this factory. The company has a tremendous order for toy sets."

1909 was also the year that the Cambridge Glass Co. was awarded a diploma and gold medal for their exhibit of American glassware at the "Golden West and American Industries Exhibition" held at Earl Court, London, England.

From the CGL write-up of the 1910 Pittsburgh show come these lines:

" ... First comes the patented arch foot, imitation cut line with rich crystal effect. It is most complete and reflects the light brilliantly ... Another interesting feature is the one-hole-shaker. Another novelty which cannot be passed is the lemon squeezer, which retains the seeds of the lemon but permits the juice to flow ..."

Cambridge experienced some production problems as these two trade items dating from Spring 1910 tell:

"The Cambridge Glass Co., Cambridge, 0., have been experiencing a considerable amount of trouble on account of a pronounced shortage of small help. Broken pots have also been a large factor of late in preventing the management from securing full production.

At the Byesville, 0., factory of the Cambridge Glass Co., very little work has been done as yet owing to the breaking of pots."

January 1911 saw Cambridge once again at the Pittsburgh show and the CGL issue of January 9 contained these lines regarding the Cambridge exhibit:

"Another new thing is the Thistle pattern, of which there is a full line. It is very rich in appearance and bears all the marks of the premier of the factory. The fan-shaped Colonial is another attractive and wonderful creation from the factory ... Another element of attraction in the display is the buzz-saw cutting, modeled after the old cut glass, and one of the best things seen this year."

The big thing for 1912 was lamps, both oil and electric, made in Nearcut patterns. Quoting from the March 18 issue of CGL:

"The Cambridge Company is doing an excellent business particularly in the glass portables and electrics shown to the trade for the first time during the glass and pottery show here in January."

These lamps were considered portables since, not being gas fueled, they could be easily moved from room to room.

1913 saw Cambridge moving to new New York showrooms and trade reports of the time indicate they were quite handsome and attractive.

The main feature of the Cambridge exhibit at the 1914 Pittsburgh show was No. 2800 or Community and it received nothing but praise from the CGL reporter who described the show and its exhibits. That spring there was a problem with the furnace at Byesville, the crown fell in, necessitating closing the factory for several weeks for repairs.

The 1915 Pittsburgh show heralded a change for Cambridge. For the first time, considerable reference is made to cuttings, needle etchings and plate etchings. Blown stemware also was receiving attention and we fired the first mention of the etching we now know as Marjorie in the January 11 issue of CGL. Quoting from that issue:

"The deep plate etched Fuchsia design is taking well ... Extra slender stems with inward tapering bowls are taking the place of foreign-made ware and the company is making large sales in these lines which have heretofore been imported."

It is at this time that the name W. C. McCartney began to appear in conjunction with Cambridge sales and trade shows. He became Sales Manager and Secretary, posts he held until 1954.

CGL reported in their November 22, 1915, issue that both plants of the Cambridge Glass Company were in full operation. Also mentioned was the fact that a two-story brick addition to the office building was being erected. For those of you who saw the office building before it was razed, this addition was the right side of the building as you faced the front.

A full page Cambridge advertisement in the January 3, 19l6, issue of CGL stated that the company were manufacturers of pressed tableware, tumblers, novelties, lead blown ware, thin line light cut glassware and bar goods.

CGL had this, among other things, to say about the 1916 Cambridge exhibit:

"Numbered among this seasons new offerings are the Marjorie deep plate etching; blown ware; emerald green vases and baskets; blown, pressed and cut floral items; light cut wares; vases and baskets; a fine array of Ebony Stack novelties; flower holders and flower holder blocks and some pieces in Royal Blue."

February 1917 saw the announcement of a change in location of the New York city office and showrooms. The new address was 49 West Twenty Third Street and it was said the building was modern in every particular.

April 1917 was the last time the Byesville plant was mentioned in CGL when it reported the plant was back in operation again following a shut down for repairs.

Cambridge trade advertisements published in early 1918 carried this copy:

"We are exhibiting a new creation in a line of vases, comports, iced tea sets and stemware in our now Sateen o'Pearl decoration, We are also showing three new fines of gold encrustations on stemware and tumblers worthy of your attention."

Due to the war in Europe and the U. S. participation, there was much discussion about the 1919 Pittsburgh Show. The show was held, but for a shorter period and with limited participation. Cambridge did exhibit that year. Trade descriptions provided no specifics as to what was shown other than the Colonial. The CGL did say: "There is a great variety of light cut, needle and plate etched goods all in generous supply."

It was about 1920 that Cambridge issued its catalog No. 10, the first one to show complete lines of etched and cut wares.

Trade advertising beginning in late 1920 and early 1921 featured the Chelsea line and promoted new etched and cut lines.

Concluding this review of the Cambridge Glass Co.'s first twenty years and what it had accomplished during that period is material published in China, Glass and Lamps during 1922.

For Cambridge, the year 1922 actually began in mid-1921 or earlier when plans for the next year were made. Following is the text of an advertisement that first appeared in the December 5, 1921, issue of CGL and was in the next seven consecutive issues:

"We invite you to visit our display in Room 728 of the Fort Pitt Hotel, Pittsburgh, Pa,, during the Annual Glass Exhibition January 9th to 28th inclusive.

"We should also be pleased to have you see our exhibition at room 339, Morrison Hotel, Chicago, Ill., during the Chicago show, February 6th to 18th.

"As usual, we will show you new ideas and novelties in glass.

The Cambridge Glass Company, Cambridge, Ohio, U. S. A."

This comes from a feature article: "Among the Pittsburgh Displays" that appeared in the January 23, 1922, issue of CGL:

"CAMBRIDGE GLASS CO. A new shade of colored glassware, which has been the cause of much favorable comment is the Azurite introduced for the first time by the Cambridge Glass Co., Cambridge, 0,, in room 728 at the Fort Pitt. It is a full body blue not unlike Harding blue. Another new line from this factory is called the Ebony. It is very black and represents an achievement in this class of glassware. Both new colors come in complete tableware lines, including vases candlesticks, bowls, candy jars, compotes and cheese and cracker plates.

"In addition to the plain Azurite, the ware is being offered in two shades of double lustre, with four patterns in gold encrustation and in combination with two contrasting colors used for lines and reliefs. The gold-encrustation patterns on "Azurite" bodies are most attractive. In fact, the entire line is beautifully conceived and executed. An especially appealing decoration is that of black peacocks and dragons on the blue body, The peacocks and dragons also are shown in a contrasting shade of green, which, contrary to what might be expected, does not clash with the blue.

"This factory also is showing iced tea and lemonade sets in "Murano Crystal." This ware is acid-tinted and seems to send out coolness and should prove especially interesting in warm weather. There are several interesting candlesticks in this new ware, as well as a round-shaped candy box. A new decoration of stemware is hand painted enamel border in blue with a pink flower and green leaf. A gold encrustation border is another new decoration on stemware.

On the gold-encrusted "Azurite" ware, the Cambridge Glass Co. has placed a gold label bearing the wording: "Cambridge Art Glass, Ohio, U. S. A." The Cambridge lines will be shown in room 339 at the Hotel Morrison, Chicago, next month with E. A. Mechling in charge."

Also from the January 23, 1922, issue comes this bit of information:

"The New York showrooms of the Cambridge Glass Co., Cambridge. 0,, at 49 West .23rd Street, will be moved this month to new quarters at 184 Fifth Avenue where the second floor of the building has been leased."

A week later, on January 30, the advertisement shown at right was published. It also appeared Azurite advertisementin the February 6 and 13 issues of CGL.

The CGL issued dated February 20, 1922, carried a new advertisement and its text read:

"All the attractive items displayed at the Pittsburgh and Chicago shows can be seen at our New York display room, the address of which has been changed from 49 West 23rd street to 184 Fifth avenue.

"Both Azurite and Crystal glass in beautiful Gold Encrusted and various colored decorations. The Cambridge Glass Co., Cambridge, Ohio, U. S. A.

Like the previous ad, it too ran for an additional two issues.

"A. J. Bennett, president of the Cambridge Glass Co., Cambridge, 0., who was a recent Gotham business visitor, is again on duty at headquarters in the pretty little Buckeye State town." CGL February 21, 1922.

W. C. McCartney, secretary and sales manager of the Cambridge Glass Co., Cambridge 0., is again on duty at the factory after being confined to his home five weeks on account of a siege of typhoid fever. Billy got hack to his desk last Monday and it is perhaps needless to add that he received a hearty welcome from his colleagues in the business department.' CGL April 23, 1922.

From a feature in CGL entitled "THE GIFT SHOP CORNER" comes this item:

"Among the several means of decorating stemware is that of plate etching and when an artistically conceived etching is added to a beautifully constructed goblet, the result is a piece of ware that is certain to attract attention. Among many kinds of glassware for table use made by Cambridge Glass Co., Cambridge, 0,, are those including deep plate etched stemware. The company has a variety of designs in this manner of etching. Pictured here is the "Marjorie." The etching is on a 10 ounce optic goblet of attractive shape, It is a stock pattern and supplies can he replenished at any time." CGL May 15, 1922.

"Arthur J. Bennett, head of the Cambridge Glass Co., Cambridge 0., is again on duty at factory headquarters after making a business trip to Manhattan town." CGL May 22, 1922.

"NEW YORK TRADE NOTES" was a feature column in CGL and from the June 12, 1922, edition comes this description of what was then being sold at Cambridge's NYC showrooms:

"The Cambridge Glass Co., of Cambridge, 0., are showing at their New York office, 184 Fifth Avenue, a very high grade line of ebony glassware, made in vases, candlesticks, bowls and baskets. A portion. of this line comes in gold encrustations. The "Azurite" line made in plain colors and gold encrustations of different decorations is an interesting blue. Candlesticks, flower vases, baskets, candy boxes, cheese and cracker sets, etc., are a few of the numerous articles which go to make this line very attractive. Still another new line put out by this concern this spring is "Carara" (Carrara] ware, in gold encrustations with blue line around the outer edge which adds greatly to the beauty of the various articles.

"Another feature with this concern is the "Azurite" decorated in green and black, with dancing girls, peacocks, dragons, etc. Vases, candlesticks, bowls, comports and candy boxes are some of the articles of this new line. A special line of blown jugs for ice tea sets, grape juice sets, etc., and also a full line of crystal blanks for cutters are some of the other features manufactured by this concern, in addition to a very high grade line of blown stemware and tumblers, in deep plate etchings, needle etchings, and also encrusted gold decorations, of which many beautiful and unique designs are shown."

Next we have two items from the CGL feature "NEW YORK TRADE NOTES." The first is dated September l8, 1922, and the second, October 16, 1922:

"The Cambridge Glass Co., whose New york offices are located at 184 Fifth Avenue, are showing a new addition to the Ebony line, which is a seven-piece dresser set. The set, which is very attractively decorated with a gold band, consists of two candlesticks, a puff box, two pomade jars, a pin tray and a comb and brush tray. Each piece is decorated on the bottom with a Gloria star. Some new baskets, vases, and candlesticks also are being featured in a similar decoration. The "Azurite" line has had an addition of a bath-room tumbler, with a gold encrustation thereon.

"One of the attractive Cambridge assortments that are new this season is the line of optic stemware, all of which is decorated with a coin gold band, and needle etched. A full line of sugar and creams, some of which are encrusted, some of which are cut, and some of which are plain or etched is also worthy of note. Another newcomer, which should prove popular, is a sandwich tray decorated with a gold Minton border.

"A slight departure from he conventional is found in the 7606 pattern, which is a complete line of stemware, decorated with a gold encrusted Minton border. The shape is something absolutely new, the base of the body being full, receding at the center, and is in the course of expanding once again as the top is reached.

"A. G. Menzies, the local manager, who has been enjoying the influx of buyers who have visited New York lately, looks forward to a good business on these new pieces, which are among the best the factory has ever put out.

"A recent addition to the popular lines of the Cambridge Glass Co. of Cambridge, 0, being shown by Manager Menzies in the New York showrooms of the company, which are located at 1S4 Fifth Avenue. It is a selection of jars, suitable for either tobacco, cigars, or cigarettes. The shape is octagonal, and blends into a sort of cylinder, giving a beautiful effect. The cover follows the same lines as the body. It has been added to the "Azurite" line and the "Ebony," and is also made in Crystal. The bottom of each jar is decorated with a Gloria star.

Arthur J. Bennett, head of the Cambridge Glass Co., Cambridge, 0,, arrived home last week after spending a delightful vacation in the White Mountains. CGL October 23, 1922.

The year 1922 ended with preparations for the following year, The December 18, 1922, issue of China, Glass and Lamps carried a full page Cambridge advertisement. For the first time the now famous "Triangle C" trademark appeared in a CGL advertisement. Part of the advertisement reads:

Your cooperation has contributed materially to our success during the past year and in expressing our appreciation we wish you a full measure of Christmas Happiness and prosperity throughout the New Year.

Another full page Cambridge advertisement was included in the December 25, 1922, CGL issue and its text both looked back at 1922 and forward to 1923:

Your visit to the Pittsburgh Glass Exhibit will not he complete until you have inspected the Cambridge offerings for 1923.

"Our display will be made in Room 728 at the Fort Pitt Hotel from January 8th to 22nd, inclusive. We invite all who visit the Exhibit to inspect our wares.

"The sensations of the 1922 Exhibit were the new AZURITE and EBONY lines of the Cambridge Glass Co. These wares have enjoyed great success and new items and decorative patterns have been added until the lines have no peers in colored glass.

"Because of their success, therefore, buyers will want to inspect several new colors, some new shapes and a variety of novelties in glass which we will have for inspection in Pittsburgh. We assure you that you will not regret looking over Cambridge offerings carefully."