Early Cambridge Etchings

by Mark Nye
Issue No. 277 - May 1996

Previously, a rather lengthy paper dating to 1905 outlining the development and current status (1905); of glassware etching in the United States was reprinted over several months (late 1995 and early 1996). In that paper there was no specific mention of the Cambridge Glass Co. At the time it was presented, Cambridge had been in business for only three years and was probably not engaged in any etching work.

The earliest trade journal mention of Cambridge etchings of any type, needle or plate, dates to December 1914 with the publication of the following in China, Glass & Lamps.

"The Cambridge Glass Co., of Cambridge, O., will be prominently represented at the annual glass ware display in Pittsburg. W. C. McCartney, secretary of the company, having charge of the exhibit, which will be on view during the entire month of January at the Fort Pitt Hotel.

"Samples of the lines produced by this well-known concern will be shown, including a new one, also the favorite 'Community' a fine Colonial line, which has proved to be an excellent seller and is in great favor among buyers.

"The reliable 'Nearcut' will also have a prominent place in the display, also the product of the company's Byesville, Ohio branch plant, including many exclusive designs in lead-blown stemware, cuttings, needle and plate etchings. New styles and novelties are also noted in the lead-blown line, which should be good trade winners ..."

The January 15, 1915 issue of China, Glass & Lamps contained a write-up of the Cambridge display at the 1915 Pittsburg Trade Show. The following were taken from the article:

"The deep plate etched fuchsia design is taking well."

"Large lines of blown stemware and tumblers are shown and there is a great variety of needle and plate etchings and cuttings."

The February 1, 1915 issue of China, Glass & Lamps contained a full-page Cambridge advertisement that featured, among other items, two pieces of stemware with the etched fuchsia design, a pattern we now know as Marjorie.

One of the earliest Cambridge catalogs to show etched ware was "CATALOG OF LEAD BLOWN TUMBLERS AND STEMWARE" issued about 1913. There were three pages devoted to plate etchings and reprints of two of those pages are included in this issue. These etchings are rarely, if ever, seen today. I have yet to see my first piece of Strawberry Design, plate etching No. 402. Shown on these pages are seven etchings, Nos. 401, 402, and 404 through 408. From the comment on the third page, "For Full Line of Etchings See Price List," it can be concluded there were other plate etchings being produced at the time the catalog was issued.

In this same catalog, seven pages were used to illustrate various needle etchings then available. Like the early plate etchings, Cambridge needle etchings are seldom seen today and many probably go unattributed due to their similarity to those produced by other glass companies. As space permits, these seven pages will be reprinted in the Crystal Ball .

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