Love Affair with a "Flying Lady"

by Cliff McNeil
Volume 25 No. 2 - September 1998

In the late 30s, estimated at between 1936 and 1937, the Cambridge Glass Company introduced a flower/fruit centerpiece bowl in the Statuesque Line. This beautiful oblong shell-shaped footed bowl Carmen Flying Lady bowl features at the front, a nude sea maiden with flowing hair partially covering her breasts and body. Her arms are outflung towards the rear of the bowl, as if supporting it, and one knee, the left one, is raised with her foot supported on the shell.

Interestingly enough, the workers called the bowl the "Flying Lady" bowl. While researching the history of the bowl, I had the opportunity to discuss it with Lynn Welker, Margaret Lane Antiques, New Concord, Ohio. Lynn has been to many of the original glass workers' homes, and every one of them refers to the bowl as the "Flying Lady" - no one refers to it as the Statuesque Line fruit bowl. He also shared with me that the townspeople who owned one of these bowls were apt to hide it in the cellar when the minister came to call as it would certainly have been considered somewhat risque for the area and time period.

Apparently, there was a circus that came to town just prior to the production of this item, and there was a German lady trapeze artist that captured the admiration and affection of the townspeople. In honor of her visit and memory, they dubbed the Statuesque fruit bowl after its model as the "Flying Lady" bowl. The name stuck, and it has been called this since. While this cannot be proven, it is a well known story in the area and certainty lends charm and romance to an already fabulous glass item.

The "Flying Lady" bowl has been found in carmen, royal blue, moonlight blue, amethyst, amber, forest green, crown tuscan, decorated crown tuscan, crystal, frosted crystal and windsor blue. I have seen it featured in a 1930's magazine article for Diamond walnuts in light emerald green but have never found it in that color, nor have I ever spoken with anyone who has seen it in this color.

Charleton Flying Lady bowl Like anything else, there is always the potential of other colors surfacing which makes the treasure hunt for these beautiful and elusive items so much fun.

Most usually found are the crown tuscan undecorated bowls. Values encompass a large range with the undecorated crown tuscan being the least expensive and the royal blue at the highest end of the spectrum.

Research shows the "Flying Lady" bowl was no longer being produced when the factory closed in 1954, but we are unsure of exactly when they stopped making her. We do know that the mold for this piece was sold to the Imperial Glass Company when Cambridge closed its doors for the last time. In 1984 when Imperial went out of business, they offered the Cambridge maids far sale. Unfortunately, prior to the National Cambridge Collectors Club mold purchases from Imperial, they had already sold the "Flying Lady" bowl mold to the owner of Summit Art Glass.

The "Flying Lady" bowl has not been reproduced. One of the reasons is that although the body and shell were molded, the single center foot is blown. We believe the cost of reproduction and the difficulty presented in doing so due to the foot have thus far protected this lovely lady's place in history.

You can learn more about this and other Cambridge glass by visiting the MegaShow Glass bookstore. I would also encourage anyone with an interest in Cambridge glass to join the National Cambridge Collectors Club. This organization is dedicated to education and the preservation of this wonderful glassware. We who love the glass should endeavor to do all we can to help in this worthy effort. You can join the NCC by writing to National Cambridge Collectors Inc., P.O. Box 416 Cambridge OH 43725-0416, or visit their web site at www.CambridgeGlass.org

Editor's Note: Thanks to Cliff for permission to reprint this article, which originally appeared on the MegaShow web site.