Vaseline Glass is actually a nickname for “Uranium Glass” — or glass that was manufactured with uranium added prior to melting. It has a transparent yellow color with a hint of green (see photo right) in its’ natural state. The nickname “Vaseline glass” was applied due to its’ color reminding people of a popular petroleum jelly.
History of Uranium Glass
Vaseline Glass found its’ stride from 1880 to about the 1920′s. The production of Vaseline glass came to a halt during WWII when the US Government confiscated uranium supplies. It wasn’t until 1958 that production started again. There are still a handful of glass companies manufacturing it today.
Is my Vaseline Glass Real?
During the Great Depression, glass manufacturers made colors like canary yellow that is often confused with authentic Vaseline glass. One true test is that Vaseline Glass with glow green when black light is applied (ultra violet light).
Another method, not as readily available, is that real uranium glass will register on a sensitive Geiger counter even though they are considered harmless levels of radiation.
There are also forms of uranium glass that are opaque. They are truly uranium glass but not the translucent Vaseline glass sought after by Vaseline Glass purists.
It can be quite confusing for the new and old collectors alike since dealers are labeling anything in the yellow to green color arena as “Vaseline Glass”. The easiest way to make sure you know what you are getting is to by Vaseline Glass in person rather than on the internet. It is too easy to dupe an excited buyer when they can’t see, touch or test to make sure they are getting the real thing.
Another way is to be as informed on the topic as you can. Barrie Skelcher wrote a book explaining the ins and outs of Vaseline glass as well as uranium glass. It is called The Big Book of Vaseline Glass (A Schiffer Book for Collectors). It is available from Amazon.com. Click the image or the link for more info about the book.