How It All Began - Part III

by Mark Nye 
Issue #282,  October 1996

"... There is no man, however, that judges what is wanted closer, and while giving something different in pressed glassware yet hits the popular idea, than A. J. Bennett of the Cambridge Glass Co. As told in these columns before, he has an original way of getting his designs. Instead of utilizing a piece of cut glass and making his imitation from that, he makes his own designs in cut glass and then produces his imitation, copying no one and having a distinct and different line when completed. 'Nearcut' glass has an enviable reputation. It received the highest award at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition <1904> and on several occasions has received even higher awards when judged by buyers. This year's productions will certainly sustain that reputation. The most massive and brilliant addition to 'Nearcut' productions is the Dorothy line. As stated, the design is original and its facsimile does not exist in cut glass. The beautiful metal so prominent a feature in the lines of this company is again to the fore. We've had several popular Dorothy's in days gone by, but they promise to be eclipsed by this one. The 'Fern' design is also an addition. It is a lighter weight line, and, of course, lower priced. It is an extensive one and contains a great number of pieces. For those who like the colonial, there is the Paul Revere. This is old English style and is a combination blown and pressed line. It has the wide panel effect and its massiveness gives it a very handsome appearance. The toy tea sets, which have become a fad, are produced by Cambridge in pleasing array. These are in imitation cut and are bound to delight the younger generation to the extreme. In display jars, Mr. Bennett has a line that is not equaled by any. The Roman and Venetian show jars with imitation cut glass foot and stoppers will be an adorning feature of any establishment as well as being very useful. The grocery display jars which have made such a decided hit are still there and promise to be in wider demand than ever before. Something entirely new is the glass rolling pin. This is very light and is easily kept clean, as the pin is a hollow glass cylinder, into which is fitted a wooden ring, which protruding at both ends makes handles." China, Glass and Lamps, January 12, 1907.

This was taken from a report of the 1907 Pittsburg Glass Exhibition.

One of the problems researchers encounter with trade journal reports is that more often than not line numbers or other definitive identifiers are not given. Another is the use of common names that may or may not appear in company catalogs, Cambridge being no exception. Sometimes common names will be used in a catalog for one year or one edition only. After that or perhaps even before, only the line number appears. Further complicating matters is the fact it appears Cambridge issued a number of catalogs during the Nearcut era and researchers have no sure way of knowing if we have copies of all or if there are still more to be found. A Cambridge advertisement published in the December 29, 1906 issue of CGL made mention of several Nearcut designs, including Sunburst and Paul Revere. The latter design was also cited in the preceding trade journal report. Yet, none of the known catalogs make mention of Paul Revere or Sunburst.

The October 26, 1907 issue of CGL carried an advertisement for "The NEW CIGAR JAR. Colonial Design." In fine print under the illustration of the jar is a line number, barely legible and the words Cigar Jar, Paul Revere design. The number may be 2360 (sic). This same jar turns up in the 2630 line. The 1910 Cambridge catalog had this to say about the 2630 line: "A very sensible plain cut fluted pattern that is of colonial effect, but low in price. When finished it is extremely bright and makes a good stock pattern." The listing includes at least three blown items, thus matching the description provided in the report of the 1907 Pittsburg show. Thus Paul Revere may very well be the 2630 line.

One candidate for Sunburst is the 2656 line even though most people would describe it as a star pattern. In fact it is known to Pattern Glass collectors as Star of Bethlehem. The 1910 Cambridge catalog had this to say about the line: "Cut Sunburst very clear, fine in shape and most desirable for the trade where a clean, attractive pattern is wanted at a reasonable price."

Dorothy is 2647, Fern or Fernland (its correct name) is 2635, and Feather is 2651.

The only listing available for the Dorothy line is from the 1910 Cambridge catalog and it lists some 30 pieces, including a number of nappies and the four-piece table set, spooner, butter and cover, sugar and cover, and cream. The Feather listing is more extensive, with over 70 pieces offered in the 1910 catalog, the same for 2630. Fernland, illustrated in a Cambridge catalog dated 1906 on the cover, consists of at least 46 pieces. The 2656 line, Sunburst or Star of Bethlehem, was made up of some 50 items. By 1913-1914, these lines, for the most part, had been discontinued. A few items remained available, but the complete sets were no longer being offered.

The catalog page captioned DISPLAY JARS AND FISH GLOBES comes from a Cambridge catalog issued circa 1916. This same page was used several years later in Catalog No. 10, issued circa 1920.