There are about a thousand different types of antique glass out there and Vaseline glass is particularly well known. However, it can be quite difficult to identify Vaseline glass among all the others. Uranium glass seems pretty similar, and it is not uncommon for people to question whether they are, in fact, the same thing or not.
Vaseline glass is one of many different kinds of uranium glass. Vaseline glass can be identified by its transparency and its Vaseline-yellow color (or neon green color if shown under a UV light). Other uranium glasses have greener coloration and are often opaque rather than transparent.
If you’re still slightly confused, don’t worry because we will go into the major differences between Vaseline glass and other uranium glasses in just a moment. We will also hopefully answer any other glass-related questions you might currently have. Here’s everything you need to know about Vaseline glass!
What’s the Difference Between Uranium and Vaseline glass?
Vaseline glass is a type of Uranium glass but it’s not always the same. So what exactly is different about Vaseline glass? There are a few ways you can identify Vaseline glass and differentiate it from other kinds of uranium glass. Here are some of the easiest ways to tell.
How Can You Tell if it’s Vaseline Glass? Is it Real?
First, you can tell by its color. Vaseline glass is almost always going to be pale yellow in color and it’s also usually transparent. Other kinds of uranium glasses are green or other colors. A lot of uranium glasses are also transparent, but several varieties are opaque as well. If you encounter an opaque glass dish that has greenish tints, you will know that it’s not Vaseline glass.
The real teller, however, is to use a UV light (aka black light). Shine this light over the top of your Vaseline glass. If it doesn’t glow when under the light, it’s not Vaseline glass. When you shine a UV light over Vaseline glass, it should glow a neon green color. If every other test leaves doubt in your mind, try this to eliminate any other possibilities!
Is Vaseline glass Depression Glass?
Another common misconception that a lot of people have is mistaking Vaseline glass for depression glass. Both Vaseline glass and depression glass contain uranium which is why they’re so often confused. However, depression glass also contains trace amounts of iron oxide which subsequently gives it a greener color (like uranium glass).
And another thing? Vaseline glass is quite a bit more valuable than depression glass on the antique market. Depression glass can sell for as high as $200 but might also go for as low as $15. It really depends on the coloring, the design, and the type of piece you are trying to sell.
Why is it Called Vaseline Glass?
Most everyone has probably used Vaseline (petroleum jelly) at one point or another during their lifetime. And yes, in case you were wondering, that is how Vaseline glass got its name. Because it is most often that pale, yellowy color, Vaseline glass seemed like the perfect name for it to go by.
Do They Still Make Vaseline Glass?
As a matter of fact, they do still make Vaseline glass! While the production formula has changed and varied somewhat over the years, there are still a couple of places out there that make their living selling Vaseline glass. Some of these places include Summit Glass, Boyd Crystal Art Glass, and a couple of other places.
There were thousands of companies that began producing glass during the 1830s (which is when uranium was first used to color glass). Coudersport, the Cooperative Flint Glass Co., and dozens of others are all responsible for creating Vaseline glass dishes with unique designs. If you’re lucky enough to come into possession of a rare design, you could probably sell it for a good chunk of change.
Vaseline glass was manufactured for the first time in the 1830s as mentioned earlier. It became seriously popular between the 1880s and the 1920s. Despite a short ban being put on the manufacturing of Vaseline glass between 1943 and 1958, Vaseline glass has been in steady production ever since then.
Now you know all about Vaseline glass and where it comes from. The next thing we need to discuss is usage. Is Vaseline glass actually all that safe to use? If it is or is not, how do you tell?
Is it Safe to Use Vaseline Glass?
Vaseline glass has been put to use by people all over the world for a lot of years. In fact, it is still being made in a lot of places so it stands to reason that if it’s still being manufactured, it must still be safe to use. Technically, yes, it can be safely used. But there is something you should know.
Uranium glass is not just a name. It is called that because uranium is the primary ingredient used in the glass to give it its color. Vaseline glass, too, gets its pale, petroleum jelly color from the amounts of uranium in it. A test done by ORAU will confirm that Vaseline glass/uranium glass can leach uranium into food that it might hold.
So what happens? Uranium can exude certain levels of gamma radiation because of several different components. However, don’t let this scare you. This radiation is usually far too small to make a serious negative impact on the person who is exposed. So, you can rest easy knowing that there’s really nothing wrong with using Vaseline dishes.
Similarly, HPS has released a reassuring statement. Yes, uranium can leach out of your Vaseline glass. However, because this uranium was mixed in with the glass upon production, it holds in the majority of the uranium content. This means that you need not worry about uranium radiation in the bottom of your dishwasher or cabinets, and least of all, on your skin.
Vaseline glass dishes can become dangerous, however, if you do not take proper care of them. Antique dishes tend to be sturdy and durable quite a lot of the time, but they will become more and more fragile with use and age. This means they will slowly become more susceptible to chips, cracks, and complete shattering.
If your v-glass dishes have become chipped or cracked in any way, it might not be a bad idea to restrict them to shelves and decorative tables in your house. Sure, cracks might potentially release more uranium, but that’s not the biggest concern here. You may start finding glass fragments in your cupboards or even worse, in your food. This makes using cracked or chipped Vaseline glass dishes particularly dangerous.
Caring for Vaseline Glass
So, with all this being said, you’ve got to know how to properly care for your Vaseline glassware. Don’t be intimidated by this, though, because it isn’t altogether that hard. You can start by caring for your glassware the same way you’d care for your other dishes. Make sure to wash them regularly with lukewarm water and soap and always avoid abrasive cleaners.
When you wash them, make sure you’re not using water that is too hot. A sudden temperature increase could potentially cause your Vaseline glassware to crack, thus preventing further use. You should also try to avoid dishwashers as well because they can often be a little too rough on delicate glassware. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
If you are displaying your glassware in a place where dust is an easy collectible, it’s also a wise practice to run a rag over it from time to time. Dust isn’t necessarily dangerous, but if too much of it is allowed to gather, it will certainly dull the color and shine of your dishes. Vaseline glass can really glow and shine when it’s cleaned properly. Take advantage of that shine!
From there on out, all you can really do is be careful about how you store them. If your Vaseline glassware experiences regular use, make sure you aren’t storing it underneath a bunch of other heavy dishes. This will quickly result in them getting broken or at least damaged. You should give them their own shelf where they can rest carefully and safely.
You should also be sure to store your glassware out of reach. If you have a household that’s full of curious kids, then you definitely don’t want to store your Vaseline glass dishes in an easily accessible area. Keep it away from your little ones and it will last even longer.
Is Vaseline Glass Valuable?
Now for the million-dollar question (pun intended): is Vaseline glass valuable? As with most antiques, Vaseline glass will most likely fetch some kind of price. If you are fortunate enough to come across pieces with rare designs, you can bet that the value and price are going to go up.
Is Vaseline Glass Worth any Money?
Before you get too excited, you should know that there are a few conditions surrounding a piece’s value. Certain individual pieces probably won’t sell for any higher than $50 or so. However, several other pieces might be able to bring in as much as $1,000. Again, that depends on the piece and the condition it’s in.
First, you should be able to get more money with a piece that is considered vintage. True Vaseline glass began production all the way back in the 1830s and has been continually manufactured since then. If you are fortunate enough to find pieces from that era, you can bet on getting a lot more money for it.
How Can You Tell How Old Vaseline Glass is?
There isn’t really a way to tell how old Vaseline glass is. The only way to tell is to check the bottom of the dish. Usually, you’ll be able to find both the name of the manufacturer and the date it was made on the bottom. This will tell you exactly how old the dish is and confirm whether it’s vintage or not.
The next thing that will determine a Vaseline glass dish’s value is the condition it’s in. Any cracks, chips, discolorations, or any other kind of damage might significantly decrease a piece’s value depending on how severe it is. This is why taking the best care possible of your dishes is important. If you intend to sell them later, cracks and chips are not an option.
As mentioned earlier, you will also probably reap a larger profit from pieces with rare designs. For instance, there was a rare children’s alphabet mug that was manufactured by the Adams and Co. Glass Company back in the 1880s. Only a few of these were made. If you happen to come into possession of a Vaseline glass dish of a rare design, talk to an appraiser as soon as you can. This will help you to determine the true value of the piece.
Hiring an appraiser is a surefire way to get an accurate assessment of the piece you own. Having a professional’s opinion will help you to sell at full potential. It will keep you from being either over or undersold. This way, everybody (including the buyer) will be kept happy throughout the deal.
Even if all these conditions are taken into account, Vaseline glass is neither the rarest nor most valuable antique out there, simply because it is still in production and it probably won’t stop anytime soon. As antiques go, Vaseline glass is, shall we say, a bit more commonplace than a few other things out there. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still make a couple thousand on a piece of glassware.
So, make sure you’re selling your pieces to the right people and talking to the right appraisers and you’ll have a fulfilling and non-frustrating experience. As long as you are careful to take the best care of your glassware possible, it will last for years and who knows? One of your pieces might turn into a family heirloom someday.