Thursday, February 17, 2011


I went on a tour of Boston years ago and was intrigued by some of the panes of glass in the windows of homes on Beacon Hill. Apparently, during the Civil War glass makers were forced to find a substitute for the lead used in glass making. They substituted manganese-ironically as a way to keep the glass nice and clear. Once exposed to ultraviolet light (like the rays of the sun) glass with manganese turns purple. Oops.
By the early 1900's most glass makers had stopped using manganese. Some modern-day glass collectors consider purple glass-also called "sun colored" glass-to be damaged goods and worth less than clear, pure glass from the same time period...not me! I love the purple hue of sun colored glass.
Most glass that is truly "sun colored" (from the mid 1800's-to the early 1900's) is light violet, or lavender. It is not usually dark purple-although I suppose that is possible. I have read that darker purple bottles may be the result of using radiation in a lead-lined box, which speeds up and intensifies the process. I like the idea of leaving a jar or bottle on a stone wall in the garden and watching the color turn as summers go by.

 I have one bottle that is much darker on one side than the other. I imagine it sitting on a windowsill, one side facing the sun, for years and years...

The most I've ever paid for a bottle or jar is $12.00, some I've gotten for as little as $2 or $3...I love the hunt, I love the bargain, but most of all I love seeing sunlight flood through the glass, showing off the soft purple colors...

 What do you collect? 

Many thanks to the following sources for information or pictures used in this post:


  1. I LOVE the purple ones the best and look for those as well. Thanx for sharing

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  3. I wish I had read this before our trip to Boston last November. I'd have looked for those tinted windows.