Also known as uranium glass, Vaseline glass glows bright green under ultraviolet light, thanks to the uranium oxide added to the glass in its molten state. In natural or indoor light, Vaseline glass has a yellow or yellow-green tinge with an oily sheen, which is where its name comes from. Vaseline glass is not to be confused with Custard glass and Burmese glass, which also glow under ultraviolet light. While Vaseline pieces are transparent or translucent, these pieces are opaque.
Uranium oxide was first used as a coloring agent in the 1830s; Vaseline glass was produced commonly from the 1840s through World War I, though it was most popular from the 1880s onward. A variety of companies produced it, including Adams & Co., Steuben Glass, Cambridge Glass Co., and Baccarat, which released its first Vaseline glass piece in 1843 under the name “cristal dichroide.”
Different companies called its distinctive color different names, including citron, jasmine, golden green, mustard, Florentine, and canary. Pieces could also have different exterior color finishes, like satin, opalescent, iridescent, rubina verde, and yellow-green.
Vaseline glass was produced in a variety of styles over the years, from Victorian to Art Deco. During the Great Depression, some manufacturers added iron oxide (rust) to the Vaseline glass mixture in an effort to make the glass look greener in natural light. As a result, Vaseline-glass purists exclude this Depression-era glass from the Vaseline-glass family, since Vaseline glass in the traditional sense does not include iron oxide in its composition. Carnival glass was also produced in Vaseline glass varieties, which generally had a marigold, iridescent look.
Although making dinnerware out of uranium may seem like a bad idea today, companies produced an endless variety of Vaseline glass dinnerware pieces, including wine servers, water pitchers, mugs, and butter dishes, along with more decorative shapes like candlesticks and paperweights.
Around 1943, the U.S. government halted the production of Vaseline glass altogether, as uranium became a heavily regulated substance. In 1958, uranium oxide was deregulated, and the production of Vaseline glass resumed. This time, however, producers used depleted uranium in place of more radioactive natural uranium.
Practically since its invention, Vaseline glass has carried the burden of a bad reputation. Stories of Vaseline glassblowers dying young from lung cancer raised the question of r...
The U.S. Nuclear Regulation Commission studied the health risks of Vaseline glass in its 2001 report, “Systematic Radiological Assessment of Exemptions for Source and Byproduct Materials.” This report agreed largely with what collectors had been saying all along—radiation from the glass was equally (or, in some cases, even less) harmful than the background radiation levels we are exposed to every day.
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Recent News: Vaseline Glass
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Business card event set at Hawley Antique ExchangeNEagle, November 27th
shop,” said Debbie Gillette, Executive Director. The Hawley Antique Exchange is described as the home of the largest collection of vaseline glass in the world. The Exchange houses over 30 dealers with unique treasures for everyone from around the...Read more
What's that worth? Area residents tote attic treasures, heirlooms to Baton ...The Advocate, November 21st
Advocate staff photo by APRIL BUFFINGTON -- Richard Dingler, left gets two antiques bowls looked at by Louise Nichols at the Attic Treasures & Collectible event held at the East Baton Rouge Main Library on Saturday, November 21. Advocate staff photo by...Read more
John Wheat Long Sr.Post Searchlight, November 13th
He was also an avid collector and knowledgeable historian on his family lineage, the Civil War, coins, antique golf memorabilia, fishing accessories, cigars, Vaseline glass, plus a host of other things. John was preceded in death by his parents...Read more
Chamber Networking Event PlannedPocono Business Journal, November 13th
The Hawley Antique Exchange is the home of the largest collection of Vaseline Glass in the world. The Exchange houses over 30 dealers with unique treasures for everyone from around the globe. Please visit their website at www.haexchange.com for ...Read more
O'LEARY ANTIQUES AUCTIONSMaine Antique Digest, October 12th
GLASS: Peking carved glass vase, large cranberry etched bohemian glass vase, cranberry swirl glass pitcher with ornate silver plate top. Kosta Boda sign. Bertil Vallien, 1930's Cambridge vaseline glass buddha lamp, Wave Crest box, Zannetti elephant...Read more
Museum showcases treasured glassPress-Enterprise, August 16th
The shelves glitter with the multi-hued colors of jadite candleholders, amberina vases, carnival glass bowls, antique salt cellars and fluorescent Vaseline glass. Housed in a late Victorian-era bungalow, the Historical Glass Museum contains more than 5...Read more
Vaseline glass is a little-knownThe Pike County Courier, February 17th
“You didn't have to become an expert to know Vaseline glass," said Eric Martin, who with his wife, Ida, owns the Hawley Antiques Exchange on Route 6 in Hawley. "All you had to do was take a portable pocket-sized black light, and if it glowed the unique ...Read more
A Quick Guide to Vaseline GlassWall Street Journal, August 9th
WHILE VASELINE GLASS may have a rather unappealing name, the antique tableware—distinguished by its radiant yellow-green hue—is anything but. Typically seen in the form of Victorian-style bowls, pitchers, plates and candlesticks, the glass can look ...Read more