Identification

Every piece of sea glass gives us clues about what it used to be in its past life and the journey it has experienced.

There are four main characteristics for identification:

SHAPE
The shape of a piece of sea glass is important to determine the type of object that it comes from. Bottles are the main source of sea glass. Finding a fragment of sea glass that came from a bottle is very common.
Here are some of the most frequently found shapes of sea glass:

  • Bases - bottoms of bottles, tableware or vases. It may be round, square or rectangular depending on the kind of object. It is not uncommon to find lettering or drawings on the surface of the base.
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  • Beans - also called "heels", usually the very outside edge of the base of a bottle, vase or other container. The lower area where the body of the object starts to curve into the base.
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  • Kick-ups - also called "push-ups", primarily found on glass bottles, for strength and stability. A pushed-up portion of the base which takes up space inside of the bottle.
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  • Handles - handles of a glass object like a cup, a vase etc.
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  • Rims/Lips- very top portion of a bottle or jar. Can be threaded, smooth, dimpled or grooved depending on the type of closure. 
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  • Stoppers - old glass bottle closures used for medicines, perfumes and liquors.
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  • Insulators - first produced around the 1860's for use on telegraph lines and later for telephone lines and electric power lines. Usually thick and bell-shaped (but can also be found in an array of other shapes) with internal threading.
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  • Flat Pieces - pieces that come from flat surfaces such as windows, trays, frames, etc.
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  • Marbles - once popular children's toys, they start as perfectly round - due to this, they are usually found intact.
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SMOOTHNESS
The smoothness of a piece indicates two things:
  • Age - in most cases the sharper the edges and shinier the surface, the "younger" the piece. Simply, the process of erosion isn't far along enough for the piece to be completely frosted and smoothed.
  • Environment - the appearance of sea glass is affected by physical and chemical processes - depending on the type of the ocean floor and the salinity, the piece will have different finishes.




COLOR
The color can also help us to determine the original source of a piece of sea glass. Certain objects    were more likely to be made with certain colors, please see the COLOR CHART for more info.
   



TYPE
Other than shape, smoothness and color, the specific type and what it is composed of can further help us to identify where a piece originates from.

  • Regular glass - transparent glass in different colors. The most commonly found sea glass.


  • Milk glass - also called "vetro lattimo" in Italian, an opaque glass. See our ART GLASS page for more info.

  • Bonefire glass - glass that appears "bubbly" from being melted in a trash bonfire. Identified by inclusions of bubbles, sand and pebbles that stuck to the glass in it's molten state.
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  • Wired/Security glass - glass with metal wire in it.
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  • Textured glass - glass with patterns or lettering on the surface.
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  • UV/Vaseline glass - glass that fluoresces under UV light due to the addition of uranium salts (a colorant) during production.
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  • Art glass - glass made with multiple, colored layers, textures and processes. See our ART GLASS page for more info.