How to identify uranium glass



2016-03-17 15:47:12

Uranium glass (aka Vaseline glass) was manufactured using trace amounts of (you guessed it!) uranium.

Uranium oxide was first used as a glass colourant in the 1830s.   

While today there is general acknowledgment that this wasn’t a great idea, it did make for some striking glassware that is very popular with collectors today.


Uranium glass from the mid-1800s was handblown and so is more valuable as the technique was used in high-end glassware.


With the advent of mass-production at the turn of the century, the price drops substantially.

It’s perfectly possible to pick it up from flea markets for just a few dollars.

Also US glass prior to 1943 used full uranium, however that year the government placed a moratorium on it as it was all needed for the nuclear weapons program.

Production resumed in 1958, but depleted uranium was now used.

How to identify it

The simplest way to positively identify uranium glass is through the use of a black light and a Geiger counter.

A black light will make true uranium glass glow very brightly, while the Geiger counter will indicate the presence of radioactive material.

However, it’s unlikely that you’ll have these to hand.

The other alternative is to hold up your suspected item to the sunlight. You should be able to detect a faint, but characteristic green glow.

How much is it worth?

Value is largely dependent on the maker and the rarity of the individual piece.

Genuine items from the 19th century are highly sought after, with some selling for tens of thousands of dollars.

It is a broad market though and pieces can be had in good condition for substantially less.

While it’s well known among dealers, it’s less well known among the general public.

Will it kill me?


Uranium glass only includes trace amounts of the material and is around as radioactive as a fire alarm. 

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