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The Victorians Used To Use Uranium To Make Glowing Glassware

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We love artwork made with innovative materials — but sometimes, it can go too far. This Victorian-era glassware, made with uranium to make it glow, is definitely in that category.

Today, the glow of uranium glass, which you can still find in antique collections around the country, is mostly observed under a blacklight. In the 1800s, they were using kerosene lights for a similar, albeit much less dramatic, effect.

Via The National Bottle Museum:

The "Heyday" for Vaseline Glass was the Victorian Era. Under the soft light produced by kerosene lamps or gas lights, Vaseline Glass appeared to glow. When electric lighting became commonplace in the home, the glass lost a great deal of its charm. Gaslight and kerosene lamps have varying light frequencies, creating the glowing appearance, but incandescent and fluorescent lights have a more steady frequency, eliminating some of the characteristic "magic" once attributed to Vaseline.


Vaseline glass use had largely disappeared by 1950 and, by the '70s, radioactive materials were prohibited from being included in glassware. Still, the EPA notes that, the antique vaseline glass continues to emit enough slight radiation that it will show up a Geiger Counter even to this day.

H/T commenter usedtobehere, who made note of the glassware in this post on fashion trends that (literally) killed.


Images: Vaseline Glass Collectors, Inc