Lake Erie Beach Glass Colors
The colors of beach glass found on the shores of Lake Erie are specific to this area. The beach glass pieces deemed as "rare" found amongst the fresh bodies of water surrounding the Great Lakes are very different than sea glass rarity found on the coasts or in other countries. I've created a break down of each color and its origin specific to the beaches I frequent along Lake Erie in North Eastern Ohio and North Western Pennsylvania.
Red beach glass originates from the depression glass area of vases, and decorative items around the home. Amberina a super rare color much sought after was utilized in such. Other red pieces may originate from shipwrecks along the Great Lakes or discarded remnants from auto accidents as well.
The rarity of orange comes from the production of orange glass, in general, being minimally produced throughout the years. Art glass and decorative glass items were produced in lower volumes some even dating back far enough to deem this color of beach glass antique.
Yellow & Light amber
This type of glass comes from depression glass, stained glass, or certain types of insulators. True yellow is extremely rare to find washing up in Lake Erie. The actual glass before it was tossed around in the waves contained Selenium in it which gives it that very rare appeal if you're lucky enough to find this treasure.
Olive Green & Forest Green
Sometimes appearing black or as if its a rock. When held up to the sunlight or bright light it will reveal that its a dark olive green. This is a rare color for Lake Erie and typically can be found more towards Erie, PA. Originally from 1840s-1880s beer, ale, liquor bottles.
If you are able to score a piece of pink then you've just found a super rare find! This color comes from depression glass which was used around the house. It was actually mass produced and cheaply made at the time, however, many of the pieces produced were not originally this color.
Certain types of beach glass turn lavender from the sun and the sand naturally over time. This color is from manganese dioxide used in the actual glass breaking down from the UV rays and high-intensity pressure between the sand and the waves. This type of glass is from pre-WWI canning jars that the manufacturing companies tried to eliminate any color remnants on so that the jars were a crystal clear.
Robin's Egg Blue
This is not your typical blue its almost a cerulean blue and can typically be found more towards the Cleveland, OH beach areas. Carnival glass sometimes contained this color from the 1900s.
Marbles come from a few different origins depending on what they look like. Some of them are children's marbles (Catseye being the most popular find) and others are from old ship's ballasts. The clear smaller marbles originate from paint cans that were discarded as the marble in the bottom is what helped to stir the paint.
Dark Cobalt Blue Slag & Black/Maroon
Specifically in Conneaut, OH there was a GE plant that used cobalt and black.maroon glass insulators for various reasons such as shipping, and on electric poles as glass makes a great conductor to protect the electricity from entering the poles which enter the ground. This type of glass found at Blue Lagoon, Conneaut Township Park and skirting beaches is actually blue slag remnants that the GE plant used to prevent an erosion issue. These were faulty insulator pieces, to begin with, that were never used for their intended purpose.
The cobalt blue beach glass that is smoother and not deemed as slag was probably from either a Noxema bottle, Milk of Magnesia container, poison bottles, Vick's vapor rub, and other vintage glass uses.
This type of beach glass glows under a UV black light. It's from vases and fine dinnerware that was produced with uranium or plutonium in the glass. This was phased out of production in the 1920s due to the rising cost of using uranium.
This glass has wire right inside the glass. It was typically used in office buildings and bathrooms so that you could not see through the glass and was also a security precaution.
Usually from vintage Coca-cola bottles as their production of glass bottles changed in the 1900s. Clear glass replaced this color in the 1920s used for other bottles and jars.
Antique Coca-cola bottles and other bottles from the 1800s to early 1900s. Other bottles and glassware in this time era were known to turn this color during mass production due to containing iron in the sand.
Leaded Depression glass and dinnerware usually found in thicker pieces turn up as a grey or greyish-light blue. Found more in Geneva, OH and Cleveland, OH beaches.
Brown & Clear & Green
Still in production today these hues of beach glass are most common on the shores of Lake Erie.
Also known as milk beach glass or white beach glass. These finds almost look like white rocks but the color is denser and clinks to the teeth will reveal that it's actually glass. Not utilized for carrying milk despite the common vintage nickname these finds were once used for bottles, vases, candy dishes, and dinnerware around the 1930s and 1940s.
These are an epic find for any treasure hunter! Utilized instead of bottle caps or fasteners to seal a bottle these finds were prevalent with bitters, pharmaceuticals, jars, and other uses. Some dating back to the late 1800s and others were still being produced in the 1900s depending on the color you find.
Also known as a push-up or pontil. This is the part of a handmade blown glass bottle that pushes up into the inside of the bottle. Typically from champagne bottles or other bottles before the 1920s.
A class of their own
There are some beach glass finds that just cannot be classed by color alone and are extremely rare to cross paths with. Sunglasses lens, glass eyes, baby doll parts, fully intact antique bottles, mirror glass, pieces with letters or words still intact or multi pieces, for example, are in a class of their own.
This is not a complete list of every single color possible to find on the shores of Lake Erie, as I will be adding more to this post soon. So be sure to check back to read more about the origins and color rarities! There are still cornflower blue, dark violet, and a few other colors I have yet to add to this list!