Caprice Stemware (Sneak Preview)

by Mark A. Nye
Issue No. 241 - May 1993

Editor's Note: The following article is taken from the upcoming book on Caprice. Containing almost 200 pages, the publication date for the book is now estimated to be midsummer but efforts are being made to have it available by late June and the NCC convention. This article is only one of many that will be found in the book.

On January 13, 1936, three design patent applications covering the Caprice line were filed. Among them was one for a goblet or similar stemware item. Design protection for the Caprice line was obtained two months later with the granting of three design patents. The goblet shown in the patent application is from the line now generally called pressed Caprice stemware.

Unlike the other Caprice stemware lines, this line does not have a style or line number other than the parent number, 3550. Each item, however, is assigned a unique Caprice item number. For example, when using the line number, the formal designation for the 10 ounce goblet would be 3550/1 10 ounce goblet.

The pressed stemware continued to he made, in Moonlight and Crystal, from the time of its introduction until sometime in the middle 1940s. Both colors were produced plain and with the Alpine finish.

Goblets are known in Topaz and Amethyst. No date has been found for these rare pieces and it is possible they were made only as samples.

The first known trade journal reference to the Caprice 300 line stemware occurred in 1937. It is highly likely, however, that it dates to 1936, the year Caprice was brought out. In its physical shape. Caprice 300 stemware is identical to the No. 3130 line because it was made in the same molds. The Caprice pattern was imparted using an optic block before the gather of glass was placed in the bowl mold.

While Caprice 300 stemware was made in five colors, Crystal Moonlight, La Rosa, Mocha and Pistachio, the Alpine finish was only available on the first three. The Alpine finish does not appear on the bowl. The following is from the 1940 Cambridge price list: "Alpine on this line is done on the stem and foot only, nothing on the bowl. The foot is satin all over and the stem is satin except for the two "buttons" which are clear." When made in Moonlight, the bowl, stem and foot are in color. Most of the No 300 stemware made in La Rosa, Mocha and Pistachio have a colored bowl with Crystal stem and foot. Pieces in La Rosa with colored bowl and foot and a Crystal stem have been reported.

Production of La Rosa, Mocha and Pistachio Caprice ceased during 1943. Moonlight Caprice stemware remained available until the early 1950s but had been discontinued by October 1954. Alpine decorated stemware had been discontinued by June 1949.

Caprice 300 stemware decorated with D/1018 was offered in the June 1949 price list. D/1018 was described in the price list as "gold stippled edge." Not available with this gold decoration were the parfait and the 10 and 12 ounce footed tumblers. This is the only reference to decorated Caprice stemware. It is not known if it had been available earlier. Caprice stemware with D/1018 was not included in the September 1950 price list.

Beginning collectors should note that there are two Caprice 12 ounce footed tumblers. One has a short stem while the other has none. Cambridge catalogs and price lists referred to the former as 300/2 12 ounce footed tumbler (ice tea) on stem.

By 1953, the parfait, 12 ounce footed tumbler without a stem and the 2½ ounce footed tumbler had been discontinued. Production of the 300 line, except for these three items, was resumed during the reopened period. The oyster cocktail and claret were not produced after 1956 or 1957.

Caprice 200 line stemware was first known as 3550/100 when the molds were ordered in late Summer 1942. The line was formally designated Caprice 200 on a supplemental catalog page issued in late 1942 or early 1943. The basic shapes and sizes of this Caprice stemware are very similar, and sometimes identical, to the Arcadia line introduced at the same time. Indications are that this Caprice stemware, produced in both Crystal and Moonlight, was not offered with the optional Alpine decoration.

Production of Caprice 200 stemware only lasted for a few years, at most, since it does not appear in the June 1949 Cambridge catalog. Imperial Glass Company used the molds from this line during 1963 to produce their "Curlicue Crystal" stemware. Imperial's production was in Crystal only and there is no known way to distinguish between Imperial and Cambridge production.

Caprice 400 stem The last Caprice stemware to be brought out, Caprice 301, is a blown line. It was produced by using an optic block to impart the Caprice pattern to the bowls of the No. 3790 or Simplicity line. Produced in Crystal only, it was first mentioned in an undated supplement to the September 1950 Cambridge price list.

The complete line was offered throughout the final years of the original Cambridge Glass Co. and during the years the reorganized Cambridge Glass Co. was in business. The last listing for Caprice 301 stemware the l958 price list, did not include the claret or the low cocktail.

The low cocktail in this line is very similar to what, in earlier years, had been called an oyster cocktail.

The sole reference to the 400 Caprice stemware line is page two of a Cambridge circular letter dated July 15, 1939. Page one is missing and page two simply listed the seven items available and provided prices. It also shows that the line was made in both Crystal and Moonlight but did not offer the Alpine decoration.

Caprice 400 stemware did not appear on a price list issued two months later nor did it appear in the 1940 Cambridge catalog, its subsequent supplement; and price lists.

Based on appearances and capacities, it has been assumed by several Caprice experts, including this author, that items found in the past few years are examples of Caprice 400 stemware. The pieces that have been found have bowls identical to the original Caprice pressed stemware. They do, however, have different stems. At right is a photo of a possible Caprice 400 goblet. Positive confirmation of the line awaits the finding of a catalog illustration or a piece with an original Cambridge stock label.