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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Orange Sea Glass

According to most experts on sea glass, orange is the single rarest color we sea glass enthusiasts might find out there.

Because I beach comb a lot, I have had the good fortune to find quite a few pieces of orange glass, over the years. For many collectors, though, a piece of orange will remain something they only hope to find, but it never actually shows up.

There are good reasons why orange sea glass is so rare. If you think about it, where have you actually seen orange glass, to begin with? It's not a color that was ever used for any "production" or "large scale manufacturing" of glass. There are no orange bottles, that I know of. Orange glass dish ware? Not something I have seen.

I have found that you can always get a good idea of the sources for older sea glass by making a visit to your local antique mall and looking at the old glassware and bottles the vendors have for sale. You really are not likely to find much, in the way of orange glass.

There are a few "known" sources of older "production" orange glass. A limited number of automotive turn signals on older cars from an era where such things were still made of glass, rather than plastic. Same with a small number of lens covers on "caution" lamps and lanterns used for road works barriers, for example.

Another source for orange sea glass is "Amberina" art glass, which was first made in the 1880's but still in pretty limited amounts. It was in production into the 1960's and is generally the source for "two toned" pieces of orange sea glass because it was a mixed red and orange.

But even when we can identify the source of a particular color of glass, we still have another factor to consider: What's the likelihood that glass will make it into the ocean?

Aside from the scarcity (or not) of the original glass, you have to consider the nature of it breaking and being discarded. Since colors like clear, brown and green tends to be "utility glass" it is also more likely to get broken and discarded as a natural part of use. And so, it will get thrown away... finding its way to dumps, some of them by the sea side. Or someone might enjoy a beer at a seaside picnic and toss the bottle in the ocean... and it becomes sea glass.

But people aren't going to have their orange Amberina glass AT the seaside. And if it breaks, out comes the superglue, rather than the trash can. And when an orange turn signal on a car, or a lamp at a road works barrier gets broken, it's going to be on a road somewhere, not on a beach. And that's where part of the rarity comes from. In order for that turn signal to become sea glass, it has to be swept up, put in the trash, that trash hauled to a seaside dump... and then pushed into the ocean, all of which has to have happened during a time before environmental protection laws made it completely illegal to push trash into the ocean.

Two-toned, from "Amberina"
So we have two rarity factors at work, when it comes to orange sea glass: One, orange is simply uncommon, as glass. Two, it's unlikely to be broken somewhere where it will even make it to the beach.

Mixed in here are some of the pieces of orange sea glass I have found, over the years. As you can see, true orange is extremely bright, and quite different from various "golden amber" tones that often get mistaken as being orange.

Finding a piece of orange is a "true treasure" for any sea glass collector.

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1960 vintage Danish national now living in the Pacific Northwest... active in the global HSP community; active beach comber and sea glass collector; lifetime collector of postage stamps from Scandinavia; writer and consultant, primarily to the metaphysics and self-help industries, writer at OM Times magazine; artist who doodles on rocks; eBay & Etsy entrepreneur and studio and production assistant at Radio Nahmaste.

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