Featured Museum Piece
Firenze Punchbowl And Cups From Cambridge Glass
Our featured museum piece for this month would work nicely for the holidays, a rare punchbowl set made by Cambridge Crystal. This set includes 8 cups, a large 11 1/2" diameter punch bowl, and a 17" diameter underplate. The set was first crafted in 1937 using the Cambridge Company’s newly-etched design, Firenze (pronounced FER-EN-ZAY). Firenze is the traditional Italian spelling for Florence, a city located in Tuscany, Italy and considered by many to be the birthplace of the Italian renaissance. The etched Firenze pattern features whimsical scrolls and a gorgeous center design that is fan or shell-shaped. Cambridge applied this etched pattern to their “Pristine” blank, which was made from 1937 to 1958. The name Pristine conveys a sense of clean lines and simplicity, and this understated shape was easily decorated with a variety of etchings and designs. Although Pristine shaped pieces are relatively easy to find, the Firenze etch has become quite rare. This punch bowl set is quite a find, and we enjoy displaying it in our public museum rotation.
The Cambridge Glass Company originated in 1873 when a group of businessmen from the town of Cambridge, Ohio decided to charter a glass producing facility. The founding businessmen sold their plans for the Cambridge factory to the National Glass Co. of Pennsylvania. A factory was built and opened its doors in 1902. Most of the company’s early designs were heavy, pressed-glass patterns. Arthur J. Bennett, an English native, was hired to manage the Cambridge factory. Most of the patterns produced between 1901 and 1906 were actually designed by Bennett. In addition to designing many of the company’s early patterns, Bennett also designed the company’s first backstamp, which read “Near Cut.” In 1907, Bennett liquidated his lifetime savings and purchased the Cambridge factory for $500,000. In 1916, the Cambridge Glass Co.’s sales appeared to be peaking, and it was decided that an additional operation at Byesville should be closed.
By 1917, all of the Byesville operations were moved to the Cambridge, Ohio location. Arthur Bennett decided that the company should have a plan to carefully manage the growth of the business. By avoiding rapid expansion, Cambridge was able to successfully weather the Great Depression, and throughout the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s, achieved steady growth. It was during this time that the company released it most successful shapes, colors, and etchings. In 1931, the company debuted its very successful “Rose Point” etching, as well as the popular “Nude Stems” collection. Many of the company’s most famous colors were developed during this period, including “Carmen,” “Crown Tuscan,” “Royal Blue,” and “Heatherbloom.” Soon after the end of the World War II, the company began to experience declining sales. Fine crystal was in less demand as more Americans purchased cheap, imported crystal. In 1958, the company closed its doors for good, and Imperial Glass acquired all of Cambridge’s molds and equipment.
While the Cambridge company is now closed, its legacy lives on at Replacements. We’d love to have you come visit our 12,000 square foot Showroom and Museum to see these incredible glass pieces. And while these particular pieces are not for sale, we do have a huge selection of beautiful, authentic Cambridge Glass pieces that are available for purchase. Our Showroom and Museum are open from 9:00am to 7:00pm ET, 7 days a week; free tours are available from 10:00am to 6:00pm ET, 7 days a week. The Showroom and Museum are conveniently located between Greensboro and Burlington, NC, at exit 132 off Interstate 85/40. We look forward to seeing you!
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