Finding Beach Glass in Maine

Click here for your FREE
weekly New England
newsletter! (And get 12
FREE desktop

Bring the heart of
Maine into your home
with beautiful, affordable,
high-quality Maine prints.
Visit our
Maine Print Gallery

Visit our
Marketplace for
everything New England!

More Travel Info:
Beach Glass: A Vanishing Resource
by Sherry Ballou Hanson

Good-sized chunks of sea green glass are a rarity these days, if my collection
is any indication. I have owned my best large pieces for many years. Still, if
you know where to look, you can find these treasures: pieces of broken
bottles and jars sanded to a fine frosty finish by the action of rocks, sand and
water. Even the rare sliver of red, or that hunk of cobalt the rich blue of a
stained glass window can often be recovered by the diligent searcher.

In Maine, along coves, harbors, sheltered beaches and on the islands you can
still pick up a blue piece, maybe even red, as I did four years ago in
Mackerel Cove on Bailey Island. Those red fragments glint from a tall glass
jar on the window-sill in my office, reminders of a cold, sunny day in early
March when the hunting was good, before the tourists came.

Have you ever wondered where the various colors come from? Purple shards
almost certainly did not start out as purple glass, any more than aqua colored
chunks necessarily started out as soft drink bottles. The pink beach glass
earrings I bought last summer at a craft fair in Bath were made from
Depression glass, a rare find on any beach. Surprised? Read on.

If you find a thick hunk of dark olive-green glass, known as “black glass,”
this was produced from iron slag up to 1860 and was used for beverage
bottles needing protection from light. Most glass produced before 1880 was
aqua green, the natural color of a product made of sand, lime and soda, so
says Mary Lou Quinn of Lubec, creator of the Beach Works line of beach
glass products. Mary Lou and her husband have been collecting sea glass
since 1991, and her earrings, necklaces and hair ornaments are all made from
naturally aged, ocean tossed chunks.

The real blue, green and purple colors of that time were produced by adding
metallic oxides, cobalt for the blue of medicine bottles. So maybe the blue
chunk you find this summer will be quite old; or you might have a well-worn
piece of an Arizona Iced Ted bottle of the 1990s! Sulfur was added for yellow
or green glass, nickel for brown. I find lots of brown glass, which I suspect is
someone’s spent lager, but you never know.

You might be interested to know why red glass is a rare find. Copper and
gold were used to produce a garnet red and a ruby glass, respectively. These
precious metals, still used today, explain the absence of red glass from most
collections. Less rare is purple, but this color is misleading.

Clear glass was most commonly produced between 1880 and 1914 and was
made with manganese, which turns a rich light purple when exposed to
ultraviolet rays. That piece you found last summer on one of the islands
could be quite old!

Clear glass produced between 1914 and 1930 usually changes over time to an
amber color, again, indicating that you might have an old treasure. A few
years ago I found several pieces of this straw-colored glass in the vicinity of
Fort William Henry at Pemaquid. This color is particularly nice on a pair of

You have your favorite places to hunt beach glass and I have mine, so I’m not
going to give too many hints. I’ll just say look for those little coves and
harbors with some wave action, maybe that little beach on the island you
land on in your kayak next month. We don’t want to give too much away, lest
the hoards descend and take away all the treasures. Good hunting this

About the Author:  Sherry Ballou Hanson has published hundreds of articles
in magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and on line publications Sherry was a
Health Correspondent for in 2001. She also wrote the Mid-Coast
chapter or Fodor’s Travel Publications, Inc.'s 2005 Gold Guide, Maine Coast.
Sherry lives in
Brunswick, Maine, and in her spare time, enjoys walking,
hiking, inline skating, biking, kayaking, skiing, archery, writing, reading and
star gazing.
Beach Glass
Subscribe Today -- It's Free!
The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
©The Heart of New England online magazine
...celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine, New Hampshire & Vermont!
Contact| The Heart of New England HOME | Search

Click Here to Get Your FREE Weekly Newsletter Today!
Maine Getaway Poland Spring Resort Poland Spring Resort
Hotels & Resorts In Maine
Maine Getaway Poland Spring Resort
POLAND SPRING RESORT Welcome to our home! Donald Ross 18 hole Golf Course.There is no resort on the planet that can match the beauty, the wonders, the fun, the shows, the music, and the history of Poland Spring and the Lowest Resort Rates Anywhere!

Starting At: US $119/Trip

>> Click For More Details & Pictures