Last Updated: Jul 19, 2016     Views: 662

Uranium in glass dates back to 79 A.D. with mosaic glass discovered in Kap Posilipo, Italy. The oldest record of colored glass with the addition of uranium is by a Count Harrach Glassworks in Bohemia exhibited in Prague in 1831. Uranium glass became more prevalent in Europe in the mid 1800's and started to decline at the end of the 19th century. In January 1943 the US Government issued an order that prohibited the use of uranium for non-military purposes.

Uranium oxide in glass is used has colorant and can be verified under ultraviolet light. Fluoresce under ultraviolet light cannot be the deciding factor to whether a piece is old or not. Particular colors of fluorescence are never caused by age. If or how the glass fluoresce depends entirely on the ingredients used to make the glass. The articles and books listed may be of some interest to you.

 The black light book for antiques & collectibles : detect reproductions, fakes and repairs the scientific way / [from the publishers of Antique & Collectors Reproduction News].

Fitz Stephan, Die Lumineszenz von Gläsern im UV-Licht. Eine Methode zur Herkunftsbestimmung?

 Glück und Glas: Zur Kulturgeschichte des Spessartglases Munich: Haus der Bayerischen, Geschichte; Munich: Verlag & Antiquitäten, 1984, pp. 137-143

Newbound Betty, That Old Black (Light) Magic, Glass collectors Digest v12, no 1 June/ July 1998, pp 55-57

Strahan, Donna, Uranium in Glass and Enamels” History, Identification and Handling Studies in Conservation v216 no 3. 2001 pp. 181-195

Tomabechi, Ken Uranium glass Tokyo : Iwanami Book Service Center, c1995

If you wish to obtain copies of any of these items, please contact your local library. The Rakow Research Library is a member of the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC); your library can contact us through OCLC or they may mail an Interlibrary Loan form to us. You may request up to five items at a time. We send photocopies of articles and microfiche copies of our books (if they have been microfilmed) through Interlibrary Loan for four weeks use.

The special uses of uranium in glass varies. Uranium glass is used as a material to produce a speciman for measuring neutrons. Uranium glass is used as a bonding agent to adhere metal to glass. With a proper mixture of raw materials, uranium glass can be made such that it has a similar coeficient of expanison to that of tungsten and has other favorable characteristics, such as properties for high temperature processing. Uranium was primarily added to clear glass for the beautiful color it produced, other than the scientific purposes forementioned.

It was once touted that uranium in glass transformed fruit juice into a healthy tonic. But of course that is not true. I've attached a some information about ultraviolet light and fluorescence. Uranium in glass isn't the only oxide that will fluoresce under ultraviolet light. I hope you find this information useful. This website may answers some other questions you may have about uranium glass.

Attachment(s) included: Vaseline uranium.doc, Black light or fluorescence.doc JB

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