The Glad and Sad Parts of Collecting - Part IV

By Joseph A. A. Borque, Sr.
Issue 300 - April 1998

Dear Readers,

I find that collecting glass items, especially Cambridge, Ohio, glass, can be rewarding, therefore causing one to be GLAD that she or he collects it. On the other hand, it can cause one to become quite SAD should one or more pieces become broken or damaged in any way.

If you recall in Part II of this article, I referred to my three- piece table center set as being "most striking." I was so GLAD that I was able to purchase it. It made me happy to be the proud owner or this scarce set in Cobalt-1 Blue. The bowl bore the large Triangle-C trademark, denoting it had been made circa 1925. It was a matching set, all three pieces bearing the identical copper engraved cutting.

Broken Candlestick If you look at figures l and 2, you will se that this elegant table center set has been totally destroyed FOREVER! The bowl was not broken apart as were the pair of candlesticks, but it too is ruined! It is full of minute cracks and fissures ("frizzles"}. See figure 3 (below left). It is not the same as crackle glass. I photographed it to share this data with you. May this never happen to you, dear reader. Read on so you may prevent this from happening to you

Were I to ask you how this set got damaged, I doubt that many of you would have the answer. I’m not sure that I have the complete answer to this enigmatic happening myself.

A few months ago, I was searching through some stored Cambridge carton boxes for a swizzle stick I wanted to write an article about. As I moved one of the boxes, I heard glass tinkling within. At the same moment, I got that sinister feeling that what I heard was broken Cambridge glass! My fear became a reality as I opened the box to discover that it contained my Cobalt-1 three- piece table center set. As can he noted in figures 1 and 2, both candlesticks were broken in several pieces and Figure 3 depicts the state ot damage to the bowl. It was a very SAD moment for me.

Broken Candlestick Sadness was then replaced by irritability. I had personally packed this box, and I had not dropped it. Each item was well padded to prevent breakage. The box was intact. Nobody had handled the box other than me. I could not readily reason howl could have allowed this to happen.

I took the box home to study this enigma. At this point. I decided to return to my storage area with my inventory ledger in hand. After checking my listings, I returned to my storage area, found a certain box and gently shook it. I heard the tinkling sound of breakage for the second time that day. Inside this box was a second pair of Cobalt-1 candlesticks which had also been well packed while in pristine condition. They were broken in pieces as were the ones of the three-piece table center set.

Bowl with cracks The next three boxes I checked out each contained over a thousand size No. 6 toy marbles made by Master Glass Company of Bridgeport, West Virginia. These were old stock marbles which I had personally purchased from the owner of Master Glass, Mr. Clinton F. Israel. I had purchased them in March of 1971.

Dear readers, you have probably guessed by this time what I was searching for. If you guessed COBALT-colored glass, you are correct. Those three crates of Master marbles were all Cobalt Blue, and were in pristine condition when I stored them in 1971. What I am about to say is astounding. Not a single one of them was intact! All of them, thousands of them, were all cracked and/or broken to pieces!!

Enough suspense. The cause of this damage was temperature - FREEZING TEMflERATURE that is, of COBALT BLUE colored glass. These items were all left in cold storage. Though it is a bit unusual, the cold winter weather in New Hampshire reaches 15 degrees below zero at times. I have made spot checks of my Cambridge in storage, and everything but those items of Cobalt glass seemed to be in pristine condition, to include items in the delicate 3011 line (Statuesque), pressed jugs; thin stemware items, etc.

As soon as warmer weather arrives, I will check everything in cold storage and if I discover anything worthwhile, I will share it with you.

The reason I discussed the Master Marble Cobalt Blue marbles, which, incidentally were titled "Azure Blue Clearies," was because these were made with cobalt oxide as I strongly suspect were the various shades of Cobalt made by Cambridge. (Master used only 1 oz. of cobalt oxide to 1,650 pounds of batch to give these Cobalt Blue marbles their coloration.).

If you have read this article series throughout, you would have noted that parts II and III dealt with RADIOACTIVE GLASS. You would also have noted that this Cobalt-1 three-piece table center set is radioactive and will remain as such for the next 16,900 years, when its URANIUM atoms will become fully decayed. This three-piece set, along with a pair of identical candlesticks to the set, and about 5,000 individual toy marbles, are all Cobalt Blue radioactive glass.

So far, the only damaged glass from the cold freeze has been Cobalt Blue radioactive glass. Radioactive emissions create HEAT. Could heated glass subjected to sudden extreme cold temperatures cause fissures in the glass which would eventually crack it into pieces? Just a thought. But what is not a thought and is a fact is that those thousands of Cobalt Blue marbles and five individual pieces of Cambridge Cobalt (Blue)-1 were all in mint condition when packed away in cold storage and later became cracked or broken.

I expect to be at the Cambridge Convention this year to celebrate the 25th Silver Anniversary. I’ll bring this broken table center set with me so you can see it as a memento to NEVER FREEZE CAMBRIDGE GLASS. Why did the deep freeze only damage the Cobalt glass? I do not have the answer to this: I’ll leave it up to the nuclear physicists to solve, unless anyone of you have the answer.

Until next time,