Friday, 05 July, 2002

Uranium Glass

Antiques are big business here in central Texas, as are pawn shops.  I don't recall ever seeing anything like the Antique Mall before I moved here.  Certainly not in Phoenix or Fresno, where I lived previously.  The Antique Mall (and similar places, of which there are dozens around here) is a very large strip mall space wherein vendors rent small spaces (10 by 10, for example) to sell their wares.  It's not strictly antiques, mind you.  More like a permanent flea market, but with a focus on antiques.  The vendors aren't always there (on the contrary, usually aren't there), but you can always purchase because there's a central cashier and the vendor's space number is on a sticker attached to each item.  Debra and I wander these places periodically, just to be doing something, mostly, but every once in a while we'll find something interesting.  I collect old bottle openers, for example, and I find some pretty neat specimens at these places.  I'm kind of choosy about what I add to my collection, though, so it's not always a successful hunt.

The second booth I walked into today had this amazing display of uranium glass under a black light. (It's the best picture I could get.  Any closer, and the flash made a terrible reflection on the glass case).  What surprised me most about uranium glass (other than I had never heard of it) was that the EPA, AEC, FDA, and all the other government agencies haven't banned its manufacture, sale, and possession.  Not that it's harmful or anything.  Although the radiation will register on a Geiger counter, we're talking very low levels.  I'd suspect you'd get higher readings from the granite blocks making up the U.S. Capital building.  Fascinating stuff, this uranium glass.  I wanted to buy a couple of pieces, but the stuff's absurdly expensive.  A simple cup cost more than $200.00.  I'd have done it for $20, just for the novelty.  But $200 is way over my limit for "cool stuff."