One of the hottest trends in home decor right now is faux mercury glass. Mercury glass finishes are on candlesticks, ornaments, bowels, etc. Did you know this trend is not new? Real mercury glass has been around since 1840 and was sometimes known as poor man’s silver.
The real mercury glass is free-blown double walled glass that is filled with a silver nitrate solution to give it the silvered, mirror look. There was no actual mercury in any of the tableware. My guess is that since mercury was used to as a reflective coating on mirrors, that the similar effect contributed to the name.
Depending on where it was produced different decorative techniques were used. The English would often use colored glass and would etch out a picture so that the silver showed through.
The Czech would decorate by painting, etching, and surface engraving. The painted ones are my favorite.
A couple of ways to determine if it is real or a reproduction, look for a double wall and a bottom that is not solid (true antiques would have been sealed on the bottom). Real mercury glass is super light and so there is usually a weight difference between the real and reproductions.
We found a lot of antique mercury glass at Marburger and sites like Ruby Lane and Etsy has some for sale too. I’d love to start a collection of mercury glass but a small vase or candlestick is usually around $100 a piece (well out of my grad school budget). In the meantime, I can still get the look of mercury glass by getting reproductions and they are all over the stores – I’ve seen reproductions at Hobby Lobby, Target, Pier One, the boutiques in Stillwater, etc. Look at this wall of mercury glass at TJMaxx!
Check out Saturday’s blog when I show you how my mom and I incorporated mercury glass into our Christmas table scape!
Also, we were not working or compensated in any way by the retailers mentioned in this post. These retailers were only mentioned to help you in your search!