Vintage Uranium Glassware Under a Blacklight Casts an Eerie Green Glow

Uranium Glass

Glow N Show Antiques | $90
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Did you know that there is a type of glass that glows? It may sound like something out of science fiction, but it's real and has been around for centuries. Known as uranium glassware, this special substance emits an eerie green shine when placed under a black light. It’s then that you’re able to see the details of the plates, vases, and serving dishes in a new way—one that appears to have a radioactive quality (but is safe to use).

So, how does this glass glow green? The name says it all; the glass has uranium in it, which is added to the glass mixture before it is melted and formed into an object. The amount of uranium can vary from being scant to up to 25% of the heavy metal element.

Uranium glass became common in the late 18th century and enjoyed widespread use until the middle of the 20th century. The Cold War effectively put an end to making new uranium glass, as its availability was curbed from the 1940s to the 1990s. It never really picked up again to its pre-Cold War days. Now, these pieces are collectibles.

If you’re interested in finding uranium glass, there’s good news: it’s fairly easy to find in vintage and thrift stores. (Just make sure you bring a UV flashlight with you to check if the pieces glow.) You can also virtually hunt for it and buy it on Etsy. Either way, when you have enough, you can decorate a whole display cabinet around them—scroll down to see the “glowing” display one Redditor shared.

Uranium glass is a unique type of collectible glassware that glows green under a blacklight.

Uranium glass wasn't produced much past 1940, but you can now find it in thrift stores and on Etsy.

Uranium Glass

Kent Vintage | $71.42

Once you've collected enough uranium glassware, you can display it with black lights so that it's always glowing.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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