Megan and I love antique stores. Whenever we have some extra money, most likely you’ll find us at a thrift store or an antique mall. Almost half our kitchen is older than we are.
Most of our collection is carnival glass or uranium glass. Come over sometime, we can tell you patterns and ages of pieces in our collection.
(Crash course: Carnival glass is a type of dishware that has certain salts mixed in that gives it the beautiful luminescence you often see in oil spots in the sunlight. The most common colors are red, blue, green, and amber.)
(Crash course the second: Uranium glass was first in production in the 1880’s and contains depleted uranium. This gives it a curious shade of either yellow or green and lets it fluoresce under a black light. Almost all production of uranium glass stopped in the early 1960’s.)
We also have a few pieces of moonstone, which is also very pretty. It has rounded bumps across the glass like droplets (called hobnails) and the glass is clear until you reach the edges or hobnails, where the color becomes opaque white.
Now, this makes us rather geeky whenever we enter thrift stores or antique malls or flea markets. We each have a keychain-sized ultraviolet light for identifying true uranium glass from simple green glass. We’ve been stopped multiple times by shop owners and multiple other customers as we pull out our lights and check a particular piece. It’s kind of fun, though, to explain, especially to customers old enough to know these pieces when they were in production.
We’re also checking for patterns, air bubbles (signs that glass is older or hand-blown), and makers marks.
So, this weekend we’re down in the Springs. Just in the city proper, there are 5 Goodwills, 2 ARCs, and 1 Salvation Army that I know of. Then there are a handful of ma and pa thrift and consignment stores. Megan and I have a preferred route that we take to hit up most of these. Up until now, it had usually just been for clothes, but this time I was wanting to test a rumor that one can find uranium glass and carnival glass at places like Goodwill or ARC. It doesn’t sound right, especially when you know the age and value of some of these pieces.
But sure enough, we did find. Sitting amid the tea sets was a small green glass that glowed under my light. Megan and I got it.
The big surprise came when we visited the ARC. In the first cabinet we found a one pint measuring cup that glowed. It had enough uranium in it that it glowed from inside the cabinet before we had even picked it up. This was the find of the month for us. How could anyone not see what this was? How could someone have donated it? How could an ARC employee simply affix a sticker on it to be sold for only ten dollars, when it could easily be sold for five times that much? Whatever. It was going to be ours. We had to get it. It was our treasure for the day.
The rest of the day had that happy feeling in the back of our mind of finding something beautiful.