Yes, these pieces are so radioactive they glow! With the help of a ‘black light’ Ultraviolet torch, these innocent yellow pieces with the whitish ‘Vaseline’ finish really put on a show. But no need to be alarmed – the radiation they emit is a tiny fraction of a percent of our everyday experience, where the sky, the ground, and the items we interact with emit some degree of radiation. It’s just that these ‘Uranium Glass’ pieces are so pretty!
As a result, they’re well collected.
Originally, Uranium was a curious mineral, often a bi-product of metal mining and with no real use. Glass blowers found it gave a tint to glass, inventing a use for it – of course, the fluorescent nature under UV light was still hidden until this modern age.
There’s an ancient Roman instance of Uranium in glass, with some mosaic tiles in a Bay of Naples Villa having 1% Uranium Oxide. During the Middle Ages, it appears in German glass as a tinting agent, and continued up into the Victorian era, particularly in the Bohemian works of Franz Xaver Riedel, who named his product after his daughter Anna – hence ‘Annagrün’ (Anna yellow-green) and ‘Annagelb’ (Anna yellow)! This pioneering commercial effort lasted 1830-48, by which time many other European glassmakers were copying the method.
France and England were prolific in the late 19th century, and America came to love their radioactive wares.
Then came the Atomic Bomb, and the Cold War; suddenly the Uranium was the ‘hottest’ commodity on the planet, and a strategic resource; the US confiscated all supplies as they pushed on with their nuclear ambition.
These days, there’s plenty of Uranium around – but putting it in your glassware isn’t really done!
We have an interesting selection of Uranium Glass in stock.
See the Uranium Glass Collection here >>