I would like to preface this article with a little personal
information: my wife and I are swan collectors, not specifically
CAMBRIDGE. Our collection started with the rescue of three glass
swans (they turned out to be L.E. Smith) from the junk bin of a
house we moved into while I was a student at the University of
Michigan at Ann Arbor, Michigan, about 1951 or 1952. They were
pretty lonely for about twenty years when my wife started more
serious collecting. When she got about a hundred, she asked me to
catalog them to minimize buying duplicates (cataloging them
didn't help, we still bought duplicates). She got her first
CAMBRIDGE swan (a 3" Type III in late emerald, with a paper
label, in 1971.
In cataloging her collection, I got interested and began studying. I was mostly interested in glass, although, name it and we probably have a swan in it. I became an N.C.C. member in 1981 (I just checked my CRYSTAL BALLS to find out when).
This article is the result of examination of CAMBRIDGE, MOSSER, LEVAY (made by Imperial), CAMBRIDGE by IMPERIAL, and SUMMIT ART swans in my collection and at the N.C.C. Museum. I asked Phyllis Smith if an article would be worthwhile and she said yes and passed by draft along to Bill, who added some exact dates, along with some other suggestions.
I am especially indebted to Bill for giving me some exact dates of mold changes. My original premise was that all the molds were changed at the same time. After finding that this was not the case, some restudying of my collection brought about some changes in my conclusions and quite a change in the draft article.
We speak of Type I, Type II and Type III Swans. I don't know if anyone has defined what is meant by the three Types. I hope this article will give a definition, but it may not coincide with present conceptions. I will state the definition, as I see it, after I have given the EVOLUTION, as I see it, with the facts I have available. (I didn't expect to come up with the length that this article has turned out to be.)
The sizes of swans made by CAMBRIDGE starting in December 1928 were: 3", 4 1/2", 6 1/2", 8 1/2", 10" and 13", measured from tail to breast. (I do not follow this way of measuring in my collection. I measure the overall length in centimeters.) In either case, the size obtained is taken as a nominal value because the swans varied both in body length and overall length according to the amount of distortion, or shaping, that was produced while the glass was still hot. There is, of course, more variation in size when the overall measurement is taken because of the amount of head/ neck adjustment while the glass was still pliable.
CAMBRIDGE introduced the swans identified by mold number only. In subsequent catalogs, they were identified by their various uses, as well as mold numbers.
* = Introduction: Fall 1928, page 52.
The introductory design was the swan mold currently called Type I
TYPE 1-3": 1928 - 1933
TYPE I - Other Sizes: 1928 - 1939
All sizes of the Type I swan were the same design, but execution was slightly different. Some of the larger sizes have a lack of symmetry; the 8 1/2" swan has 11 large wing feathers on one side and 9 on the other. The 4 1/2" has 11 and 10. Only the 3" has 10 on each side. The obvious feather of all Type I molds is the feather detail, not only on the large feathers, but on smaller wing, breast and tail feathers.
Feather Detail of Type I, 8 1/2" Swan
In the catalog reprints from the National Cambridge Collectors, we find the following:
We can conclude from these entries that the change from Type I to Type II of the 3" swan occurred in 1933. The mold order book entry indicates that the change from the original, for other sizes, took place in 1939. It may be assumed that the original 3" mold was also changed at the same time, even though it had not been used since 1933.
TYPE II - 3": 1933 - 1939
The reworked Type I 3" (#1040) was apparently never used by CAMBRIDGE, but was sold to IMPERIAL with the other CAMBRIDGE molds. When IMPERIAL went out of business, this mold was purchased by BOYD'S CRYSTAL ART GLASS and used to make many colors not made by CAMBRIDGE.
The 3" Type II (1040 1/2) was a new mold, with somewhat different design. It had the C in a triangle mark. It featured somewhat spread wing tips and the large wing feathers were more "swept back." A deep notch separated the tail from the wings. A feature of the 3" Type II was a "dimple" in the wings and the area around the dimple was a "mottled" effect, without the "blister" effect found on other sizes. The Type II 3" swan was a little longer, measured tail to breast, but it was still called a 3" swan and the mold number was 1040 1/2 (although later the 1040 number appears again, possibly by mistake: the 1949 catalog carries a reprint page from the 1940 catalog).
Type I and Type II 3" Swans
Some of the differences between Type I (1040) and Type 11 (10401) can readily be seen:
|Type I||Type II|
|no notch||notch between tail and wings|
|flat tail surface||fan like tail|
|upright major wing feathers||swept back major wing feathers|
Type II - 3" Mold #1040 1/2
For some of the other features of the Type II take a closer
The detail of the major wing feathers consist mostly of a central spine for each feather. The balance of the wing is an indistinct pattern - simply "lumpy." The wing includes a "dimple."
TYPE II - Other Sizes: 1939 - 1940
The other sizes were reworked in 1939 (rework order of 23 Jan. 1939). The reworking consisted of removing feather detail, which left the large feathers with only outline and smooth rounded surface within the outline. The under-tail feathers became "blister" shape. Most of the neck was made smooth. The mold mark (C in a triangle) was removed by polishing it away. In the 4 1/2" and 6 1/2" molds, however, the polishing away was incomplete, so the C and the triangle can still be discerned on some swans made in these molds. Milk glass swans that I have in the 4 1/2" and 6 1/2" sizes do not have any vestige of the mark, and 6 1/2" swans made by IMPERIAL do not have any vestige, so it must have been completely removed at a later date.
Feather detail of Type II 8 1/2" smooth feathers of reworked mold
Comparing Figure 4 with Figure 1, the difference is obvious;
all feathers have lost their detail. I have not seen any pictures
or catalog pages from the Jan. 1939 - Feb. 1940 period. Bill says
that there was no Type II in the larger swans. This is a question
of definition of the Types. Bill says they went from Type I to
Type III in the larger than 3" molds. If we define Types simply
by change in the product, the 1939 change would have resulted in
a Type II. If there was a Type II, they were made only for a
short time (possibly a year); they would have been the same in
shape as those made presently by BOYD and SUMMIT. IMPERIAL also
made some in this configuration for LEVAY. I have three 8 1/2"
swans that might be identified as Type II: two crown tuscan and
one carmen. There appears to be no flare. Maybe Bill and I can
get together and compare swans as well as notes.
In the catalog reprints from the National Cambridge Collectors, we find the following:
From these entries, we can conclude that the change from Type
II to Type III took place in 1939 for the 3" swan; the Type III
apparently reverted to the #1040 mold designation.
If there was a Type II in larger sizes, the change to Type III took place in 1940 after the flaring tools were made.
TYPE III 3": 1939 - 1958
The Type II 3" #1040 1/2 mold was reworked and apparently returned to the #1040 mold designation. It is not this simple, however. We could have another type, a Type IIIA (reworked Type II, 1939 - 1940) and Type IIIB (reworked Type II with flare, 1940 - 1958). Type IIIA was made in the reworked Type II mold. Type IIIB was made in the same mold, but with the spreader. Type IIIB had a further spreading of the wings and wider internal dimension due to the use of the new plug, so that the cavity was closer to round instead of oval as in Types I and II. Type III, the reworked Type II, with or without the spreader, was also a little longer from tail to breast, it also had the "blister" shaped feather structure on the breast and under the tail. The "dimple" in the wing was removed forming the "blister" shaped feather detail on the wings where the "dimple" had been. The neck was smoothed. The large wing detail was removed so the feathers were like the larger size swans. The tail was made more round instead of squared off as in Type II. The "C in a triangle" mark was removed.
Type III 3" swan showing details different from Type II
Figure 5 shows the change made from the Type II:
The central spine has been removed and the major feathers are convex rather than flat as in Type II. The "dimple" has been removed. The detail of small wing, breast and under-tail feathers is "blister" shape as with the larger swans. The "fan" shaped tail is more rounded instead of squarish at the top as in Type II.
The distinction between Type IIIA and IIIB is not as obvious as one might think. When a group of Type III swans is put on a table together, they can be distinguished, but when observed one at a time, as when buying, it is not so easy. Particularly, if you find a MOSSER swan. The biggest problem is distinguishing between unmarked MOSSER and Type IIIA. The key to the distinction is mold wear. During many years of usage certain defects appeared in the mold. A small projection on the swan's left foot, and the left foot became broader; the difference in width of the left and right feet is quite obvious. Less obvious is a mold closure defect in front of the swan's right wing (on marked MOSSER swans, this defect seems to have been fixed). This reworked mold, with its defects due to long use, without the "spreader plug" is the one obtained by MOSSER. On the other hand, the CAMBRIDGE Type IIIA was made in the newly reworked mold. It has been said that the elder MOSSER obtained it when he left CAMBRIDGE GLASS. It has been used by MOSSER for many colors similar to ones used by CAMBRIDGE as well as many other colors. MOSSER made swans with this mold without the flaring tool, since 1960 without any marking. In the early 1980s, a mold mark was added; "M in an Ohio outline."
left: MOSSER left foot right: CAMBRIDGE Type IIIA
Note the projection on the MOSSER swans foot. I have been using this projection as a guide to MOSSER swans for a long time. But the more definitive factor is the width of the foot; particularly in comparison with the right foot. The right foot didn't "grow" in the same manner as the left. The Type IIIA feet are both the same size. Also, I have seen MOSSER swans with the projection removed.
TYPE III - Other Sizes: 1940 - 1958
For the other sizes, the change from Type II (if there was a Type II) to Type III consisted of a manipulation after the swan was removed from the mold; while the glass was still pliable, a flaring tool was forced into the back of the swan to bend the "feathers" outward. IMPERIAL used the flaring tool for swans they made and labeled "CAMBRIDGE by IMPERIAL." They did not use the flaring tool for swans they made for distribution by LEVAY.
Comparison of swans made with and without the flaring tool - both by IMPERIAL
According to N.C.C.'s reproduction of the CAMBRIDGE catalog of 1949 thru 1953, (the N.C.C. Color book indicates that milk glass was produced only from February 1954 to the plant closing in July 1954) swans in milk glass had different mold numbers:
Although the mold numbers are different, the molds used for
the items that I have seen are the same molds.
DEFINITION: There are two possible definitions of the Types:
1. Whenever the product changed, a new Type was formed. The result of this definition would be four types for 3":
Three Types for larger sizes:
2. Types were defined by new or reworked mold: Three types for 3":
Two Types for larger swans:
I tend to favor the second definition as more in keeping with what I believe is the common perception.
3" Swan - #1040
3" Swan - #1040 1/2
3" Swan - #1040
4 1/2" Swan - #1041
6 1/2" Swan - #1042
8 1/2" Swan - #1043
10" Swan - #1044
13" Swan - #1045