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Mercury glass, also known as silvered glass, 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. A few manufacturers did, for a time, try to line their glass with a mercury solution; this practice was discontinued due to expense and toxicity, but it helps explain the origin of the misnomer.
First discovered in early-19th-century Germany, mercury glasswas used as an inexpensive and tarnish-free substitute for silver in such objects 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, sugar basins, tumblers, and even spittoons. Some critics condemned it for “looking too much like mirror and too little like silver,” which is precisely what people liked about it. At worst, mirror attracts a few vain 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.
Black Mercury Glass
simple post earring that lacks
earring with a hook that
meets with a hinged clasp
earring that lightly swings on
a post or french wire backing
dangle earring with tiers of
earring with one component on
an ear wire or post top
open, circular earring that
loops around the ear lobe
single row hanging earring
with linked components
set of two earring pairs, often
including mismatched studs
stud earring with an attachable
An earring that can be worn as a chandelier or the chandelier can be removed and worn as studs