Uranium glass

These wonderful beakers and glasses are found in the museum in Theuern










In the year 1789 a pharmacist and chemist named Martin Heinrich Klaproth discovered the element uranium and later pointed out that its salts could be used as colouring material. Within forty years of his discovery, production of glass coloured with uranium had grown into a profitable industry. Every form of glassware in various fluorescent shades of green, yellow, brown, red and even blue was popular in the 18th and 19th centuries: Wine and liquor glasses, decanters, lampshades, bowls, figurines, even laboratory reagent flasks… Especially valuable were hand-blown glass pieces decorated with intricate engravings, etchings or hand-painted. There is even a 13″ diameter globe of the earth made from uranium glass. There are several large collections of uranium glass in Germany, especially notable is the exhibition in the castle of Theuern (near Amberg) which unfortunately is not accessible right now.

The production of uranium glass was terminated in Europe in the first half of last century; however, there is still production in the US and Japan.