Vaseline Glass – Watch it Glow

vaseline glass

Since we’ve opened our upstairs store, Kevin has told me to be on the lookout for “Vaseline Glass.” He told me it was sometimes yellowish-green just like the color of Vaseline, but other pieces could look more green; he promised me that I would know it when I saw it.

He bought a black light soon after upstairs opened and told me to take any glass to the back room if I suspected it to be Vaseline Glass by using the black light as a test. If the glass started to glow, we would have ourselves a real piece. This made for a fun disco party (by myself, ha) with glass every once in a while– I can’t tell you how many pieces of green or yellow colored glass I’ve tested since we’ve opened upstairs!

One morning about two weeks ago, Kevin was telling us that he could not believe in the time that New Leaf has been open that Vaseline Glass has never come through the doors. That same day we received a huge load of glassware and I made a joke saying,

“Maybe our first piece is in one of these boxes.”

As we started to unpack the boxes and price things, I came across a plate.

Kevin was right; I knew it when I saw it.

I was starring at the yellowish-green plate with my mouth open for a minute before I held it up to show Kevin. In excitement, he ran upstairs to grab the black light. We turned the lights off in the bathroom downstairs, (now you know what gets tested in the bathrooms around here), and all we could say was,


The plate was glowing brightly, just like a green glowstick would. Sure enough, New Leaf finally had its first piece of Vaseline Glass! That same day, we found a set of wine glasses and cups in the group of boxes that glowed as well! We thought the glasses were just Depression Glass, since they were more green than the plate, but when we took a black light to them, those babys glowed just as bright!



What in the world makes Vaseline Glass glow?

Small amounts of Uranium would be added to a glass mix before melting it, which gave the glass it’s pretty green color. If the glass is more green than yellow, it is referred to as Uranium Glass, while the yellowish tint is named after its look alike substance, Vaseline. This glass glows when put under a black light because of Uranium being a radioactive substance. However, when this glass was being made, no one was aware that they were putting radioactive materials into their glassware! (But don’t worry, although Geiger Counters will detect the radioactivity in the glass, there isn’t enough Uranium to cause harm).

Modern Vaseline Glass became a hit in the mid 19th century, with most of it being made from 1880s to the 1920s. During the Depression, a greater concentration of Uranium was added to the mix to give the glassware a brighter green color. During World War II, the U.S. halted the making of this glass, due to needing Uranium for the war.


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