Poor Man’s Silver – Mercury Glass

Mercury Glass at Wishful Living

Mercury Glass at Wishful Living

Mercury glass, also known as silvered glass, has been popular throughout Europe and America for nearly 200 years. It contains neither mercury nor silver - it's actually clear glass, mold-blown into double-walled shapes and coated on the inside with a silvering formula, which is inserted though a small hole that is then sealed with a plug. First discovered in early-19th-century Germany, mercury glass was used as an inexpensive and tarnish-free substitute for silver in objects such as candlesticks and doorknobs. It then gained favor in France and England, where it was made into useful household wares like vases and goblets, and in America, where it was turned into glass vases, goblets, tankards, tumblers, and even spittoons. Some critics condemned it for "looking too much like mirror and too little like silver," which is exactly what people liked about it. At worst, mirror attracts a few glances, while genuine silver attracts thieves. Appreciation for the inexpensive baubles rose, until the advent of the light bulb, in "modern" light, no burglar would mistake glass for silver. Known as "poor man's silver" in England, mercury glass provided an inexpensive alternative to the silver that furnished the houses and churches of the wealthy.

At Wishful Living we offer a variety of inexpensive mercury glass pieces. The picture above shows votives ($5.00), jars ($8.00) and the square box with lid ($14.00).

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