The Cambridge Glass Company

by Mark Nye
Issue 320 - December 1999

It was shortly after the beginning of the 20th Century, now quickly coming to its end, that the Cambridge Glass Company was founded, its plant built, and the first glass bearing its name produced. The following is excerpted from the column "Western Glass and Lamp Factories" that appeared in the May 8, 1902, issue of Crockery and Glass Journal. (CGJ)

"Every indication now points to a better activity for the remainder of this fire and to a satisfactory closing of the year's trade. The glassware plants are all fairly busy now in completing the years demands and preparlng for the July vacation. Arrangements are making by some to introduce some new lines in midsummer, a practice that in earlier times was common, but which has been generally abandoned for some years, except in a few instances. The preparation of some new short lines and pieces for early fall trade by two or three Factories is reported now, but the majority of the plants will not place any new patterns of importance on the market until December.

"The manufacture of lamps is taking precedence of all other branches at present. These plants are using their full capacity, and from their present orders all feel confident that it will require the fullest operation to meet the demands. Decorated lamp manufacture is the one important glass industry that has been growing beyond the expectations of the manufacturers. Within three or four years, this manufacture has doubled or trebled the number of its factories in the West (Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio, Ed. note), besides largely adding to the output of the old ones ...

"At the National Glass Co. trade is reported satisfactory with all their various establishments running smoothly.

"Trade at the United States Glass Co. is reported to have shown a noticeable improvement the past week.

The Cambridge Glass Works, a model three furnace plant with every modern improvement, commenced making glass this week."

Thus the trade was informed of the first production of the Cambridge Glass Co.

What appears to be the first Cambridge trade journal advertisement appeared in the September 25, 1902,. issue of CGJ and was a half page in size. It is perhaps the only one that included Mr. Bennett's name and company position. A November 1902 sdvertisement omitted Mr. Bennett's name but did list nine sales agents, from coast to coast. Cambridge Advertisement It too was half-page size. The CGJ issue of December 2, 1902, had a full-page Cambridge advertisement of which part of the copy read "Manufacturers of Pressed and Blown Glasswarc of every description." Quite a claim!

Radium was featured in another half-page advertisement dated January 21, 1904. There were now 12 showrooms, New York to Seattle, Washington. At the end of 1904, a full-page advertisement, published December 15, was a "teaser ad" for the Marjorie pattern introduced the following month. Another "teaser ad," this one from December 1905, extolled the Marjorie line but also gave hints about a new line for 1906. This turned out to be the Lotus pattern.

All of this is now history; the company long out of business, the principals deceased, the factory buildings leveled, and only a few of the workers from the last years still around to tell us how it was. As the century comes to a close and the 21st Century only weeks away, the National Cambridge Collectors is making plans for a new museum to preserve for the next century, and hopefully beyond, the history of the Cambridge Glass Co. through representative examples of its product, equipment, and surviving company records.

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