Cambridge Swans - Part VI - Mold Orders

by Les Hansen
Issue No. 323 - March 2000

Following publication of the first several articles of this series, Willard Kolb provided me with photocopies of mold orders from original records of the Cambridge Glass Company. They offer very useful information on the approximate time of introduction of the Swans and, especially, of the supplemental pieces for the swans. Therefore, this final article on the Cambridge swans will fill some gaps regarding production periods that were missing in Part I and Part IV of the series.

Mold Orders Affecting Swans
Date Order No Item Number & Description Item Appearance
1-12-28 3333 1040 Very small swan (3") Fall 1928 catalog
1-12-28 3334 1041 Small swan (4½") Fall 1928 catalog
1-12-28 3335 1042 Small medium swan (6½") Fall 1928 catalog
1-12-28 3336 7043 Medium large swan 8½") Fall 1928 Catalog
1-12-28 3337 1044 Large swan {10") Fall 1928 Catalog
1-12-28 3338 1045 Extra large swan (13") Fall 1928 Catalog
1-14-28 3339 1050 Candlestick insert for 4½") Fall 1928 Catalog
3-30-28 3416 1047 Cover for 6½" swan Perhaps not produced
3-30-28 3417 1048 Cover for 8½" swan Unknown
7-19-28 3477 1051 oval liner for ½" swan Perhaps not produced
9-24-28 3515 1052 Oval liner for 10" swan Fall 1928 Catalog
5-28-30 3853 1221 Large swan or aquarium Production delayed?
10-20-30 3918 1221 Swan aquarium Production delayed?
1935 71 1221 Swan punch bowl CL#41 1937)
1935 72 1221 Swan punch cup CL#41 (1937)
1-05-37 5205 1492 Alter 1048 (8½" cover) CL#31 (1-6-1937)

Nothing new is gleaned from the first seven mold orders that are listed. Molds ordered during January 1928 were in production by fall 1928. The two mold orders during March 1928 were for covers (#1047 and #1048) for the 6½" and 8½" swans. Notations on the mold orders indicate that the 6½" swan with cover was to be used as a ½-pound candy box and the 8½" swan with cover was to be used as 1-pound candy box. Because these covers were ordered in March 1926, the molds for the covers could have been made in time for these items to be included in the fall 1928 catalog; however, they were not in that catalog. Obviously the cover for the 8½" swan is the Cambridge Swan cover described in Part IV of this series of articles that had feather detail to match the Type I swan it covered. This cover doesn't have a knob of any sort and only a couple of these have been reported to date - both in light emerald. As far as I know, a cover for a 6½" swan has not been reported to date; therefore, the mold for this cover may have never been made. However, a cover (with feather detail) for a 6½" swan could surface in the future, because Cambridge glass items previously unknown to exist appear with regularity.

During July and September of 1928, molds were ordered for oval liners for the 8½" (#1051) and 10" (#1052) swans. The mold order for the 8½" swan liner indicated that the liner was to be used as a "fern dish," however the mold order for the 10" swan liner (a flowerpot) had a notation to make this size (10") first and also to get castings for the 1051 (8½") but do not start. I am unaware of the existence of an oval liner for an 8½" swan; therefore the notation on the mold order for the 10" swan liner might suggest that the mold for the 8½" swan liner was never made. Interestingly, the mold for the 10" swan liner was not ordered until September 24, 1928, yet this liner was illustrated in the fall 1928 catalog. Either the mold was quickly made or, more than likely, the catalog illustration was developed without using an actual liner.

Mold orders were issued three times for the #1221 swan punch bowl. The first two mold orders were during May and October of 1930, and the third one dates to sometime in 1935. As far as I know, the first reference to the swan punch bowl being offered for sale is in Circular Letter #41 of the Cambridge Glass Factory from 1937 that was reproduced in issue #192 of the Crystal Ball. The latter two mold orders do not appear to be orders to alter an existing mold, so perhaps the making of a mold for the swan punch bowl was held up for some reason on two occasions. Certainly the extreme size of the punch bowl suggests that the mold would have been a very difficult one to make. The initial mold order (5-28-30) had a notation to leave out a great deal of feather detail. Even though the mold for the swan punch bowl probably wasn't completed until sometime in 1935 or later, this notation fits with earlier conjecture that the swan punch bowl was made in only Type 2 (some feather detail) and Type 3 (no feather detail).

Occasionally, Cambridge glass collectors hear that the 16" swan punch bowl was originally introduced as a fish bowl or aquarium. This has always surprised me, because the swan punch bowl would, practically speaking, make a lousy aquarium. The glass is extremely thick on the outside body walls of this swan, so light is heavily refracted when passing through the swan from any angle. Certainly, a swimming fish would be difficult to detect from a side view of a swan punch bowl filled with water. The two early mold orders could explain the basis of the aquarium theory. The original concept (in 1930) for the swan punch bowl might have been that it was to be used as an aquarium. However, by the time the mold for this big bird was ordered for the final time (in 1935) or was completed (sometime between 1935 and 1937), the intended use for this swan probably was only as a punch bowl. Circular Letter #41 from 1937 states only that this item is a punch bowl. Furthermore the first and only mold order for a swan punch cup was in 1935, at the same time as the last mold order for the swan punch bowl. Perhaps reference material from 1935 to 1937 will surface in the future and help to clarify whether Cambridge ever marketed the 16" swan as an aquarium.

The last entry in the mold order list for swans is for the #1492 cover for the 8½" swan, which was a reworking of the #1048 cover for the 8½" swan. A notation on the mold order indicates, "Make cover plain and put rose knob on it." This mold order was dated January 5, 1937, and it had an immediate impact at the factory because Circular Letter #31 was issued to sales agents on the very next day (January 5. 1937). It stated that "we have changed the design [to Type 2, with most feather detail removed] of the swan [8½"] and have made a cover for it [the #1492 without feather detail and with a rose knob]. Whether this announcement was made to gauge demand before the mold was actually altered, or if the mold was quickly altered and put into production shortly after January 5, 1937 is unknown. The altered cover with a rose knob for the 8½" swan was made in crystal and moonlight (probably for a very short period of time) and is highly prized by swan collectors today.