How Green It Was - Part I

by Mark A. Nye
Issue No. 242 - June 1993

The May 14, 1923, issue of China Glass and Lamps (CGL) contained one of the first trade journal references to several new transparent colors being produced by Cambridge. It was a news item, not a paid advertisement, and read as follows:


"An extensive line of salad plates in colored glass recently has been added to the lines of the Cambridge Glass Co., Cambridge, 0. The plates come in Ebony, Azurite Helio, Primrose Yellow and in new shades of topaz, light green and mulberry. Made of colored glass, the plates have both plain and star bottoms. The Cambridge factory offers the plates in plain colors as well as in decorations such as contrasting colored edges and in light cuttings and gold encrustations.

"In stemware, the Cambridge line has been increased by additions in colored glass. The new shades are topaz, light green and mulberry. The most wanted shapes come in the new colors, which should be of interest to those desiring something new and attractive in stemware."

The light green referred to in the preceding is the color Cambridge named Emerald and collectors today call Light Emerald. Unlike the earlier introduction of the opaque colors and later introduction of additional transparent colors, there was very little in China Glass and Lamps regarding the introduction of Emerald, Topaz and Mulberry. The next direct mention of Emerald came in the January 14, 1924, issue of CGL containing a write-up of the 1924 Pittsburgh show:

"There is a very complete line of mulberry, topaz and emerald glass, of candle sticks, jugs, bowls, tumblers and stemware that is colorful and interesting. A very comprehensive line of colored glass salad plates made us wonder why salad was ever served on any other Boudoir Set sort of plates, for the pale green of lettuce would enhance the value of these colors, and the glass would make the salad all the more tempting. These plates match every style of glassware they make ..."

Several months later the CGL issue dated May 19, 1924, had this brief note:

"Just two days ago, The Cambridge Glass Co., 184 Fifth Avenue, received the first samples of very attractive boudoir sets, consisting of a small covered jug, one glass and a well shaped tray, which are being made up in emerald, amber, mulberry, topaz and crystal, with band decorations and encrustations. At the same time, the first samples of gold encrusted colored stemware arrived in cobalt, amber, mulberry and emerald."

Later the same year, in the November 17 issue, a paragraph in a column entitled "New York Trade Notes" talked about another use of the new colors:

"The Cambridge Glass Co., 184 Fifth Avenue, has some new refreshment sets of glass decorated in gold encrustations. The colors Mah Jong etching in which these are made are transparent blue, green and amethyst. Reproduced in go}d encrustation on the rim are Mah Jong tiles. Two more gold tiles appear on the sides of the sherbets. Three Chinese characters appear in gold on one side of the bottom of the plate, opposite the indentation for holding the sherbet glass. Gold edge lines complete the decoration.

"The same design is used in ice tea sets and in boudoir sets. All of these are ready for Christmas business. The sample arrived in New York only last week."

Again quoting from the "New York Trade Notes" column, this time from the CGL issue published April 20, 1925:

"The Cambridge Glass Co., 184 Fifth Avenue, has added a great array of new things since my last visit. There are six new patterns a gold encrustation on their colored glass, all of it in a rather lacy effect, which is much more interesting than the solid bands. There is a new cocktail set made in amber and in emerald, with silver top. There are a number of new plates, both salad and bread and butter size, of colored glass with gold encrustations, showing six different designs. They are made of all colors but the crystal, green, amber and mulberry are being featured, and are the most popular.

"A console set that is unusual consists of two large dolphin candlesticks and what appears to be a small temple jar with cover and base of black glass, and is shown in green and amber. These pieces look like faithful copies of old Sandwich glass.

"A new block optic is shown in amber, emerald and mulberry, in fancy table ware, with plain or gold hair line edge. This block optic was originally made with a scalloped edge, but in the future it will be made only with a straight edge.

"The item that pleased me most here is a 27-inch [Surely, this was supposed to have read 27-piece not 27-Inch. Ed. note] luncheon set available in either amber or green transparent glass, This consists of cream and sugar, 10½ inch bread plate, six eight inch service plates, six seven inch bread and butter plates and six cups and saucers. It is a marvelous summer item, and would be perfect for use on the porch or in the garden during the hot weather. The green glass is especially cool looking, It can he retailed anywhere between $12 and $15.

"There are some new lines of wire optic transparent green, mulberry and emerald stemware of a new shape, that include besides stemware many tumblers, jugs and plates, etc., and new pieces in the other various lines.

There appear to be errors in the last paragraph of the preceding quotation, since transparent green and emerald seem to be the same color. Perhaps transparent green should have read transparent amber. In addition, the term "wire optic" is unfamiliar and probably should be "wide optic".

Two weeks later the "New York Trade Notes" column had this to say about some new items seen in the Cambridge display room:

"A new hand made three-gallon fish globe on an ebony glass base has just arrived. It is made in green and amber, and the bottom of the bowl has a one-inch peg three inches in diameter fitting into the ebony glass base. It is unusually graceful in shape and will retail at about $5.

"There is also a new pressed glass ribbed bowl of two gallon capacity shown in green and amber, which also has a peg fitted into a black glass foot.

"An unusual group is a nest of three oval octagon relish dishes measuring 6½ 8½ and 10½ inches, samples of which have just been unpacked. These are made in green, amber and crystal, and are shown with etched design on the flat octagonal rim, as well as plain."

Jane Littell in her column "New York Trade Notes" dated October 26, 1925, commented on the Cambridge Fall offering in this manner:

"The lacy effect of the deep plate etchings on crystal and colored glass, with the fine lines left unpolished, has caught and held public attention. The Cambridge Glass Co., 184 Fifth avenue, have been having huge success with their deep plate etchings on green and amber stemware, tumblers, plates and even tea cups, sugars and creams. Indeed this concern is specializing on a luncheon set of glass ornamented with the lacy etching which may be had in two designs either with or without gold lace edge lines. One of the designs available in the etching is a border which is used in their encrustations and the other is a narrow border with a sort of pendant or drop which forms a wide lace-like design. A star center that looks like a huge snowflake, finished both designs.

"A new idea in decorations the glass is also shown at the Cambridge Glass Co., which consists of a needle etched encrustation on a narrow border design of crossed lines that gives a diamond effect to the gold band. A gold hair line on each side of the encrusted band and a gold edge make this a simple yet rich ornamentation. This decoration is used on their 3051 shape, and may be had on the new peachblo color, amber, green, amethyst or crystal."

And so it went through the middle to late 1920s and on into the 1930s. Cambridge produced little during these years that was not available in Emerald as well as most of the other Cambridge transparent colors. For readers who may be having difficulty visualizing Emerald (or light Emerald as it is called today), it is the green of "green" Apple Blossom and green Cleo.

This months article comes to a close with a quotation from the May 20, 1929, issue of China Glass and Lamps:

21 Piece Set in Cleo "In their attractive Decagon design, the Cambridge Glass Co., Cambridge, O., has announced a 21 piece luncheon set which should be most suitable for June and summer merchandising. The set is composed of six cups, six saucers, six salad plates, sugar, creamer and handled cake or sandwich tray, comprising complete service for a table for six.

"The Decagon shape in Cambridge glass is exceptionally well designed and fits in with the demand for wares which can be used with either Colonial or Spanish settings. The illustration shows the set in the Cleo pattern in etching. This is an exceptional pattern and has proven popular in stemware.

"The luncheon set is made in Willow Blue, an unusual shade of blue, in Peach-blo, a unique shade of pink, and in Emerald, a green of spring time freshness."

To be continued ...