Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

Colour My World – Electric Lime

As most of you know, I am a mineral collector. Living in Cobalt Ontario is a dream come true for the two rockhounds in our household.

Mineral collecting is also a great source for blogging material. Today, by way of kicking the mood up a notch, I will tell you a bit about the mineral autunite.

Some minerals are named after the discoverer; other species, like autunite are named after the locality at which they were first discovered: in this case, the Autun District in France.

Autunite is a secondary mineral resulting from the oxidation of primary uranium minerals in hydrothermal veins, granite pegmatites, etc. –

Yes, that’s right, uranium. As in radioactive.

In our mineral collection, we have a sub-set of radioactive minerals, thanks to our proximity to the Canadian Shield. Mostly, though, the Ontario pieces we’ve collected are boring old black and brown and not the eye-popping electric lime green, yellow, or orange, that is found elsewhere on the planet. As an added bonus, the material is just about blinding under UV light.

Vaseline or Uranium Glass is highly collectible. On the left is a dish under regular incandescent lighting and on the right under ultra violet light.

Before it was discovered to be harmful, uranium was used as a pigment in glassware and sold as “Vaseline Glass.” On the left is a dish under regular incandescent lighting and on the right under ultra violet light. Autunite would react similarly to UV light. Click for source.



Autunite 2.8 x 2.2 x 1.2 cm from China – click on image for details.

A radioactive mineral specimen usually commands higher prices because of the “hot-rock” status, and because they are usually more colourful.  The seller had listed the piece pictured above as “green mica”, and mica is a very common and less desirable mineral. But we recognized it as autunite, with the vibrant colouring. and bought up every piece we could at very cheap prices. Until the seller got wise, that is, realized his error, and started to charge accordingly. You win some, you lose some!

***  ***   ***

Inspired by Jennifer Nichole Wells and Colour Your World – Electric Lime

… and wouldn’t you know it. Just as I was crossing i’s and dotting t’s, I realized that I am a week early for the electric-lime challenge.

What’s that saying? You win some, you lose some?

Categories: Mineral Collecting

Tags: , , , , , ,

24 replies

  1. If you stand next to this stuff long enough do you begin to glow as well Maggie? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Now, that is about as electric as lime green can get !

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I first looked at the photo of the Autunite from China I thought I was looking at a cross section of a head of lettuce. The mind sees what it wants to see. Very cheery color you’ve got there. Interesting to know about those old green dishes. Never heard of such a thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A wonderful burst of colour on an otherwise uncolourful day 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lol! Well, I have a whole new appreciation for lime green, now. AND for botryoidal malachite. He’s one of the Rolling Stones, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your autunite vs. mica story reminds me of a garage sale find I made a few years ago. The seller had some of her deceased mother’s jewelry for sale including some lovely carved vintage Bakelite bracelets that she thought were just cheap plastic. I thought for a moment that I should tell her… but decided not to. I felt sort of bad about it, but I still have and love my bracelets. That electric green is amazing… it isn’t dangerous to have around your house, is it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like Bakelite… And that particular design era. Nice find for you!

      Is it dangerous to have U mineral s around? You need to take precautions. This particular specimen of autunite is very fragile, so when it arrived in the mail, we opened the package outside so we wouldn’t spread radioactive dust in the house.

      As for radiation, we follow the usual precautions: don’t carry it in a pocket or wear it, don’t keep it stored near a desk or bed, where you’re likely to spend long hours in proximity.

      The more lethal concern is the radon gas that is emitted. If it is inhaled, it settles in the lungs. We store the specimens in acrylic display boxes that keep the gas contained. But we open them out doors and at arm’s length so as to not get a snootful of radon.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Very cool.

    I’m thinking of exposing our well water to UV light, just to see what happens. It’s nasty stuff and I am sure it will glow….. or something worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Fascinating post, Maggie. We have lots of green glassware at our nearby antique warehouse, but as you say, they could be fakes!! Thanks for the tip off. Would you use such glassware knowing it contains uranium? I imagine it’s just a collector’s piece.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Barbara. Thanks for commenting.

      I don’t know enough of the science to say whether the Vaseline Ware is safe to use day-to-day. But as you suggest, there is more value in the items as collectors’ pieces, so you’d want to protect the dishes from wear.


  9. Wow! Very interesting and the perfect shade of green.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Such a wonderful, informative post. Thank you so very much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My husband collects rocks (lots in the house and garden) and I’m also interested in them. This reminds me of what used to be used for luminous clock and watch hands… is it that? Astonishingly bright colour that the computer screen does justice.


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