Posted 6 years ago
A very popular pattern to collect today among shaker collectors is Northwood’s Cactus pattern. This stylized cactus pattern is a square shaped shaker, narrowing slightly towards the top, that stands approx. 3 5/8 inches tall with a standard tin type lid. There is a Jewel type design on each of the 4 panels and well as an upward and downward curved design from just below the top down and from the bottom upwards. This pattern is entirely different from the perhaps the more well-known Cactus shakers produced by the Indiana Tumbler & Goblet Co. and should not be confused when seen.
The interesting aspect about this pattern is that it was produced in many colors and types of glass. Found in transparent colors, opaque, cased, and opalescent stripe makes it a great shaker to look for and a challenge to assemble all of the colors and glass types, which could potentially be upwards of 13 different colors and varieties! The opalescent stripe pattern is the only opalescent pattern I’m aware of on the Cactus shakers. I’m not aware of any other shapes that this pattern has showed up in, possibly a toothpick holder or sugar shaker would have been interesting.
An advertisement showing the Cactus shaker appeared in Crockery and Glass Journal, December, 1894 along with some other glass items made in the period.
The following are the colors that I can think of:
1. Cranberry Opalescent Stripe (Fig. 2)
2. Blue Opalescent Stripe (Fig. 2)
3. Canary Opalescent Stripe (Fig. 2)
4. Pink Cased (Fig. 3)
5. Green Cased (Fig.3)
6. Light Green Opaque (Fig. 4)
7. Darker Green Opaque
8. Blue Opaque (Fig. 4)
9. White Opalware (with & without decoration) (Fig. 4)
10. Clear Amethyst
11. Clear Apple Green
12. Clear Blue (Fig.5)
13. Clear Vaseline (Fig. 5)
I’m sure there are possibilities of other colors that may show up or variations in decoration.
In my opinion, the opalescent stripe examples are the rarest and the most desirable to collect. The canary opalescent example shown here has a most interesting story. This example was discovered under a street in Jersey City, NJ. When the street had to be dug up for water main repairs, a large grouping of bottles was discovered. Among the bottles this shaker was discovered! The other interesting thing about this shaker is that it survived unbroken for all these decades buried under a city street!
Note the satin, iridized finish on it due to being buried.
I would suspect that this was a popular line due to the vast number of colors that it was produced in. I believe that they came with a tin or maybe a nickel plated top over brass.
It has always amazed me the colors and varieties that went into seemingly every day utilitarian type items. But during this period, the competition was stiff and glass makers always had to come up with something new and exciting items to keep ahead, not to say that the Victorians used little restraint in fancy design.
As a shaker collector and not a glass researcher, I always try to write from a collector’s point of view. If anyone has any additional information or other color variations, I would love your input.