Uranium Glass

Uranium Glass

Uranium Queen of 1956, Brook Robin (image via mentalfloss)

Believe it or not: People used to color glass with uranium (in oxide diuranate form).
Uranium was not seen as being particularly dangerous during the 19th century; so the development of various uses for the element, such as tableware and household items were quite normal. The peak period of popularity was from the 1880s to the 1920s. The proportion usually varied from trace levels to about 2% by weight uranium, although some 20th-century pieces were made with up to 25% uranium. The color of uranium glass ranges from yellow to green and when it’s seen in blacklight it becomes fluorescent! It’s radioactivity can be measured but they say it’s harmless.

During the cold war, in the 1940s to 1990s, the availability of uranium was shortened to most industries and uranium glass was no longer used as much. Nowadays uranium glass is mainly limited to small objects like beads or marbles as scientific or decorative novelties.


(image via collectorsweekly)

-The use of uranium in its natural oxide form dates back to at least the year 79 CE, when it was used to add a yellow color to ceramic glazes.

-The discovery of the element is credited to the German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth. While he was working in his experimental laboratory in Berlin in 1789.

-In 1841, Eugène-Melchior Péligot, isolated the first sample of uranium metal.

-Radioactivity was discovered by Dr. Henri Becquerel  In 1896 he used uranium for this discovery.

-The first major producer of items made of uranium glass is commonly recognized as Austrian Franz Xaver Riedel, who named the yellow (German: Gelb) and yellow-green (German: Gelb-Grün) varieties of the glass “annagelb” and “annagrün”, respectively, in honor of his daughter Anna Maria. Riedel was a prolific blower of uranium glass in Unter-Polaun (today Dolni Polubny), Bohemia from 1830 to 1848. By the 1840s, many other European glassworks began to produce uranium glass items and developed new varieties of uranium glass. The Baccarat glassworks in France created an opaque green uranium glass which they named chrysoprase from its similarity to that green form of chalcedony.

(knowledge via wikipedia)



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