Crown Tuscan - The Early Years

by Mark Nye
Issue No. 267 - July 1995

Cambridge And The 1930s is the theme of the 1995 NCC, Inc. Convention. In light of this, this month's column is a rewrite of one originally published in 1986. Crown Tuscan was introduced in 1932 and quickly become a mainstay in the Cambridge line.

"The Chicago showrooms of Cambridge Glass Co. are displaying the 'Crown Tuscan' line which has been received with much interest since its recent announcement. This opaque glass with its rich cream-like color is offered in a wide choice of fancy and table pieces including vases, bowls, side dishes, ball jugs, etc. This Cambridge line carries a hall-mark on the bottom of each piece after the manner of dinnerware. This hall-mark consists of a crown with the name 'Tuscan'." China, Glass and Lamps, September 1932.

The preceding is one of the first, if not the first, report of the color Crown Tuscan to appear in the trade publications. From it one can deduce Crown Tuscan probably went on display in Cambridge showrooms during the summer of 1932.

Two other trade reports, one from February 1933 and the other undated, depicted Crown Tuscan with these words.

"Crown Tuscan - A whitish pink opaque glass in vases, bowls and fancy pieces for table and home decoration. Shown plain or with color band at edge."

"Crown Tuscan - this is a new pinkish ivory translucent glass somewhat resembling a very high grade china. This glass takes on a very high fire polish and the colorings in each piece vary slightly in an interesting manner."

From the NCC book Colors in Cambridge Glass:

"It (Crown Tuscan) is a pinkish color that will range from near transparent to opaque in density and is sometimes described as being 'near flesh color.' It is found in a wide range of shades from a dark tan through shades of pink to almost white. Some pieces show streaks that approach brown in slag effect. It is a color that accepts a very high degree of fire polishing which could result in a show of opalescence near the edges."

Using these descriptions, the reader should be readily able to visualize the Cambridge color know as Crown Tuscan.

The opening quote describes quite well the range of items produced in Crown Tuscan during the early years. Two pages of the 1933 Cambridge catalog supplement were devoted to Crown Tuscan and one of these illustrated nothing but vases, 12 to be exact. All were decorated with either gold D/1007-8 (Lace Design) or a gold encrusted etching, including Diane and Portia. Other items in the 1933 Crown Tuscan line included the No. 1040 1/2 3-inch swan, the No. 1043 8 1/2-inch swan, and four items from the Nude or 3011 line, ashtray, candlestick, cigarette box, and comport, all with D/1007-8.

The 1934 catalog supplement contained four pages of Crown Tuscan wares. Again, much of what is shown is decorated and now we find gold encrusted Minerva (D/1015) on Crown Tuscan Gadroon blanks. In addition of the Gadroon (3500 line) blanks, blanks from the 3400 line, the Tally-Ho line, the 3011 Figure Stem line, as well as miscellaneous items from other lines, were also being shown in Crown Tuscan.

(Editor's note: For purposes of illustration we are reproducing two of the six catalog pages mentioned above at the end of this article. The additional pages can be found in the NCC, Inc. reprint of the 1930-34 Cambridge Catalog reprint.)

Bowls, plates, relishes, smokers items, along with vases, comports, a decanter and sherry glasses, a basket, a jug, ice pail and candleholders were among the Crown Tuscan items in the 1934 Cambridge line.

One of the pages in the 1934 Cambridge catalog supplement pictured Crown Tuscan items with an Ebony foot. Numbered in this grouping were three items from the 3011 or Figure Stem line: the cigarette box and cover, the ash tray and the 7 inch comport. Shown also were two items from the 1066 line: the cigarette holder and the 5 3/8-inch comport. Additional items consisted of smokers items from other lines and four vases, nos. 274, 1283, 6004 and 1300.

It was only during these early years of production that the Crown Tuscan trade mark was used. It is even questionable whether or not every piece of Crown Tuscan produced during that time was signed as stated in the trade journal write-up.

Crown Tuscan Mark Dave Rankin, in his excellent series on Cambridge trade marks (published some years ago in the Crystal Ball) discussed the use of the Crown Tuscan mark. His comments are repeated here.

"... trademark (see figure) was applied to some Crown Tuscan pieces. Trade advertising tells us that Crown was introduced in the fall of 1932. Examination of existing Cambridge color books reveals that this acid stamp signature appears predominantly on 3400 line items, also on Gadroon (3500) and Statuesque (3011). Frequent decorations on these pieces are gold encrusted Diane (D/1012), Chintz (D/995), Portia (D/1001) and a lace type decorations D/1007-8.

Each of these line and decorations appears on two pages in the 1933 addition to the 1930-34 Cambridge catalog. It was also noted in this examination of the color books that the mark did not appear on Seashell pieces (new in 1935) or on pieces decorated in Rose Point (introduced in November, 1934) or on later lines. This suggests that usage of the Crown Tuscan acid stamp was limited to the years 1932-34." Cambridge Crystal Ball - April 1976.

Adding to Dave's comments, it is highly unlikely blanks sold to decorating companies would have carried the Crown Tuscan trademark.

In addition to lines previously mentioned, the 1930s saw blanks from such other lines as Nautilus and Everglade as well as such objects as the Mannequin head made in Crown Tuscan. It would be foolhardy to flatly state any given item was not made in Crown Tuscan with the possible exception of the Caprice line. Of course, not every line or mold was produced in Crown Tuscan but what is true is that Cambridge could have at least tried most items in Crown Tuscan during the 1930s. For the most part, stemware will be an exception to this as will tumblers and decanters but examples of these too are known.

Among the most notable exceptions to no Crown Tuscan stemware are the Crown Tuscan Nude cocktails, first made during the 1930s. With a Crown Tuscan nude stem and foot, these cocktails were made with bowls in colors of amber, amethyst, carmen, forest green, gold krystol and royal blue. This grouping of Crown Tuscan nude cocktails had been dropped from the Cambridge line by the end of the 1930s.

Cambridge introduced the Sea Shell line in 1935 and with it came one of the Cambridge color controversies ... the color name Coral. To again quote from Colors in Cambridge Glass:

"Coral was introduced in February 1935, as one of the colors of the Sea Shell line. No substantial evidence has been found to indicate that this was a distinct color formula. It is probable that this color name was coined by the sales department of the company as being a more appropriate name to apply to Crown Tuscan when used in the 'Sea Shell' line.

"When the Sea Shell line was introduced, one author described the Coral color as a 'shade with a tinting of coral on bluish white.' He was describing the blue opalescent appearance of the thinner sections characteristic of some items in the Sea Shell line. This has lead some collectors to debate whether Coral was a unique color formula. Nevertheless, the name Coral was not used outside the Sea Shell line. The Crown Tuscan name was not applied to the Sea Shell line until 1949 when Cambridge had stopped using the Coral name and used the Crown Tuscan name on all lines."

For color pictures of Crown Tuscan and Coral, the reader is referred to Plates 35, 36 and 37 in Colors in Cambridge Glass. Readers desiring more information about the Sea Shell line are referred to Lynn Welker's excellent article on this topic published in the February 1978 issue of the Crystal Ball.

It was during the mid-to-late 1930s when Abels, Wasserberg & Co., Inc., of NYC began using Crown Tuscan and Coral blanks as bases for hand painted decorations known as "Charleton." Collectors sometimes forget these decorations were not done by Cambridge nor were they sold by Cambridge. Cambridge simply provided the blanks to the decorating company as did other glass makers.

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