Uranium Glass, a form of glassware known for the vivid green glow it exudes under ultraviolet light, contains from 2% to 25% uranium oxide by weight. Also known as Vaseline Glass and negligibly radioactive, these pale yellow to jade green pieces were popular home and tableware items from the mid-nineteenth century through the start of the Cold War.
Uranium Glass Marbles
(images via: The Marble Connection)
“You’ll put someone’s eye out with those uranium glass marbles!” You don’t know the half of it, mom. The USAF’s A-10 “Warthog” ground-attack jet makes mincemeat out of enemy tanks firing a Gatling gun loaded with depleted uranium slugs. Translation? All your aggies are belong to us.
Seriously, a marble that looks like a miniature Loc-Nar just can’t be beat. Imagine showing up in the schoolyard with these bad boys, then lighting ‘em up with a mini blacklight keychain… now that’s all kinds of awesome.
Uranium Glass Atomic Rooster
OK, they’re actually uranium glass hens but an Atomic Rooster reference was mandatory in this case. Uranium glass hens are surprisingly common, acting as lids for salt cellars, sugar bowls, even cookie jars. Heck of a place to keep cookies, if you ask me.
(image via: Look in the Attic & Co.)
Contrary to your probable first assumption, uranium glass glows green under ultraviolet light, not due to any residual radioactivity. Under normal lighting uranium glass objects can range from pale yellow to medium green in tint, and can vary from opaque to transparent.
Uranium Glass Crookes Tube
(images via: The Cathode Ray Tube Site)
What’s a Crookes Tube, you ask? I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you… OK, not really, come back and sit down. Crookes Tubes date from the era of real steampunk and Film Noir when electricity was a novelty and radioactivity even more so. The early Crookes uranium glass discharge tube above didn’t have to be made of uranium glass but aren’t you glad it was? Paging Marvin the Martian, I think we found your Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator.
Uranium Glass Bulldog
(images via: Bonanza.com)
Hellhound, you say? This li’l guy creeps me out even without the aid of a blacklight. Notice how his eyes glow red when the blacklight is on… that’s not supposed to happen, is it??
(images via: Globe Antiques & Collectibles)
Here’s another uranium glass bulldog, made by the Mosser Glass Company. Stated to be a “Bulldog Vaseline Glass Doorstop Figurine,” this pug-ugly pug deserves better than being a lowly doorstop, and he sure knows it.
Uranium Glass Shoes
Ruby slippers, meh. Uranium glass slippers, yeah! Skipping down the Yellow Brick Road in a pair of uranium glass slippers would have served Dorothy (and her little dog, too) very well indeed. What flying monkey would dare to go up against these bodacious bilious booties?
Uranium Glass Juicer
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade… on a glowing green juicer made of uranium glass! Most any kitchen implement has been given the “vaseline glass” treatment, which seems strange as neither vaseline nor uranium belong anywhere near most any kitchen.
The above selection of uranium glass juicers illustrates the variety of tints and grades of transparency that made this type of glass so popular for so long… and we’re talking roughly 2,000 years: the Romans made uranium glass and used it in their mosaics. Of course, they didn’t have blacklights or UV lamps back then but uranium glass gives off a slight green glow in ordinary daylight, courtesy of the sun’s natural UV rays.
Uranium Glass Dog Button
(images via: Cairn Rescue Network)
These Vaseline Uranium Dog Glass Buttons are hand-made in the Bohemian town of Jablonec where the arts of glassmaking and button-making go back many centuries. Wear a glowing glass button with a dog’s face on it? Czech!
Uranium Glass Box
The mere concept of a “Uranium Glass Box” sounds like something out of sci-fi; the perfect place for Lex Luthor to keep his Kryptonite (he probably keeps his Uranium in a Kryptonite Glass Box).
(image via: eBay/BarberShopShaving)
A uranium glass box to store your razor blades and hone them fiendishly sharp… I’d trade my Gillette Fusion for one any day. They say Jack the Ripper conserved his deathly implements of horror in one of these boxes. Sounds like a cool place to store one’s post-cremation ashes.
Uranium Glass Skull
(images via: Artskulls)
Move over, Indiana Jones, there’s a new kid on the glass block and (unlike your last effort) he’s getting glowing reviews. Yes, it’s a phosphorescent skull fashioned from uranium glass. If it didn’t already exist, someone would have to make one.
(images via: Glasskulls.com)
Any budding Colonel Kurtz’s out there should take note: all you really need to lord it over some primitive, undiscovered tribe is one of these uranium glass skulls and a pocket blacklight. Somebody starts up, you flick on the UV… let the kowtowing begin!
Uranium Glass Keyboard
(images via: Dovetail Designs)
Steven Klein has built the ultimate steampunk keyboard & stand, featuring hand blown uranium glass keys and space bar infused with around 3% oxides and uranates of uranium by Mark Matthews. Eureka, break out the lead foil finger-cots and let’s do some isotope typing.
(images via: Matthews Marble Interest Group)
One can easily imagine Edgar Allan Poe, H. G. Wells or Ray Bradbury hunched over Klein’s so-called Celestial Keyboard, which is housed in a cabinet crafted from cherry, quilted maple and ebony wood. It’d also look right at home on Captain Nemo’s Nautilus.
(image via: Janne Moren)
Collecting uranium glass is a popular hobby and can be quite lucrative as well due to the age and rarity of some pieces. Perhaps it’s not a good idea to accumulate too many pieces in a single location, however, as you never want to have a critical mass.