The Controversial Near Cut Water Set

by Joseph A. A. Bourque
Issue 302 - June 1998

The year was c. 1975. While browsing through one of the better antique shops in my area, I greeted the owner who was a friend of mine. I asked him: "Anything new Guillaume?" "Joe" he retorted, "You know that everything I have in my shop is old. I dont deal in new stuff!" This was a standard joke with us.

Inverted Strawberry Jug and Tumblers I asked him if he had any recent finds that would interest me. He then informed me that he had just received a water set in Pink Slag that he wanted me to look at, adding, "The woman who sold it to me told me that it had some age".

As he was unwrapping this beautiful jug set with six matching Pink Slag tumblers, I informed him that the water set was not old and was relatively new. My friend. the shopkeeper, was taken somewhat aback by my opinion and told me that if I could convince him that the set was new, he would give it to me free of charge.

The set was, simply put, gorgeous. I knew which glass firm had made it and when it was made (See figure 1, at left). Without even picking up a single piece of the set, I asked my friend to examine any of the six tumblers closely. He did but failed to notice what I had intended for him to see. So, at this point I asked him if he thought that this was a matching set. He replied in effect that it was, that the coloration was the same, the sunken strawterry motifs on the sides of all seven items were a match, the embossed strawberry flowers and sprigs on the base motifs matched (See Figures 2 & 3, below), and that all seven items were signed NEAR CUT. We both knew that this trademark was the Cambridge Glass Company trademark.

Detail of bottom of Mugs At this point, I picked up one of the tumblers, found a barely visible "B" signature and pointed this out to him. He became a bit perplexed at this point end asked me what the "B" stood for. The "B" stands for Bennett. I informed him; Harold Bennett of the Guernsey Glass Company, Cambridge, Ohio. I told my friend that, like other proud manufacturers of their ware, he (Bennett), had placed his initial on these tumblers.

The way it worked out between Guillaurne and me was that I ended up "bailing him out" of his dilemma by paying him its cost. It worked out quite well this way for both of us.

So much for he opening part of this article. Following are paragraphs and/or excerpts from existing articles which were written about 24 years ago by members of our own National Cambridge Collectors, Inc. NCC), in our official organ, Cambridge Crystal Ball. These are reprinted verbatim.

[A] Issue No. 3, page 5 (July 1, 1973): patterns by Ruth Forsythe. "INVERTED STRAWBERRY has been reproduced and yet it has not been reproduced. This statement does not seem to make sense, but as in most reproductions a new mold was made of the pattern. Also, very few pieces have been made. Actually, the only ones are the tumbler and toothpick holder. A water pitcher in a size that was never made by Cambridge in the first place in this particular pattern ... were never made originally by Cambridge in the Inverted Strawberry pattern. These new pieces do bear the NEAR CUT mark. In the new Inverted Strawberry, the strawberry and flower are coarser and there are no mold marks on the pieces. Remember the Cambridge INVERTED STRAWBERRY had definite mold marks."

[B) Issue No. 4. page 4: Patterns by Ruth Forsythe. "Had an interesting experience recently in an Antique shop in Brazil, Indiana, regarding some Inverted Strawberry pink slag tumblers. The shop owner told me that they were not very old, but were made from an old mold of the now defunct Cambridge Glass Company. I tried to explain that the mold was not original, but that a new mold had been made. Believe it or not, he showed me a recent issue of a very well known price guide from which he had obtained the information. So-o-o its in the book. Right or wrong it's in the book, and I feel certain the gentleman believed the book and not a complete stranger who walked into his shop."

[C] Issue No. 5, page 5: Collectors Corner by Bob Coyle. "Collector from Shelby, Ohio asks about glass companies in the Cambridge area reproducing glass from the original Cambridge moulds. The Imperial Glass Co. of Bellaire, Ohio, purchased the existing moulds from the Cambridge factory when they closed, and to the best of our knowledge, they are the only company that have used the original moulds. We are aware of some Inverted Strawberry pieces being produced with the Near Cut mark, but these are made from new molds and with careful examination the detail is obviously not as fine as the original Cambridge pieces."

[D] Issue No, 16, page 5: Collectors Corner by Frank Wollenhaupt. "I do know that one woman from Florida was really upset about reproductions, especially the Inverted Strawberry. I happened to be talking to her at the Cambridge Show. I asked her to foLlow up our little conversation with a letter when she made it back home. I still haven't received her letter."

[E] Issue No. 17, page 8. "IS IT CAMBRIDGE?" by David McFadden. "As collectors of Cambridge Glass, my wife and I are interested in the existence of reproductions and re-issues. (A reproduction is an article resembling Cambridge which has been made from a new mold. A reissue is an article made by another company using an original Cambridge mold.)"

[F] Issue No. 22, page 9. "IS IT CAMBRIDGE?" by David McFadden. "The Inverted Strawberry pitcher and tumblers have caused much concern. The Inverted Strawberry pitcher by Guernsey Glass is made on the Inverted Thistle pattern pitcher with the Inverted Strawberry design, therefore it is not the same as the original Inverted Strawberry by Cambridge. The Guernsay Glass pitcher is marked with a honey bee in the bottom (off center). The Inverted Strawberry tumblers are harder to identify. Inverted Strawberry Pattern Some of them have been marked 'Nearcut' in the bottom and most are marked with the letter "B" on the side near the base. (The letter "B" was not put on some ot the first tumblers produced.) The pitcher and tumblers have been made in several colors and have been decorated with Gold and Red Flashed as well as having been carnivalized."

[G] Issue No. 33, page 11: "IS IT CAMBRIDGE?" by David McFadden. "Information given to us is that the Guernsey Glass Co. has removed the "Near Cut" mark from their Strawberry tumbler mold and has increased the size of the "B" which appears on the side of the tumbler, near the base."

The excerpts above have been reprinted from our Crystal Ball to give you an idea of the problems which faced our members and collectors of Cambridge Glass over 20 years ago, as regarded the jug and tumblers made outside of the Cambridge Glass Company in Inverted Strawberry. Take a close took at Figure 1 which you can only see in black-and- white and visualize it in a beautiful pink slag color. Look good at the actual rubbing of the jug (See Figure 4, at left) so you can identify it should you run across it in the future.

Until next time,