I Wanted to Quit Social Media Until I Found Antique Glassware Groups

published Jun 20, 2023
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Uranium Glassware in antique store, shades of green
Credit: antony cullup/Shutterstock

Like so many other millennials, I grew up on the internet. I remember when the CD-ROM came to my house for our first internet setup as my family waited eagerly for the dial-up to make its screeching hum. I spent my afternoon hours on AOL Instant Messenger. By 15, I had my first social media account, MySpace. I spent my online hours befriending strangers with similar interests, sending messages back and forth with no intention of meeting up. 

A few years later I joined Facebook (as soon as I got that college email address), then Twitter, then Instagram. I’d share photos from my travels and keep up with friends I met along the way. I found freelance writing work through online colleagues and I even made some real-life friends through a networking group during my post-grad year living in Australia. 

But somewhere along the way, all of it started to feel toxic. Photos in my feed were so edited I couldn’t decipher what was real anymore, especially when it came to body and self-image. During the pandemic, my social media became even worse, a cesspool of not-so-hot takes and conspiracy theories. If it weren’t for my need to stay on these platforms for my work as a freelance writer and website owner, I would have escaped entirely. That is, until I found the one corner of the internet I actually love — the antique glassware Facebook groups. 

Credit: Caroline Eubanks

I didn’t discover these groups until the pandemic, when I started collecting antique glassware. I attended my first Depression Glass show in 2021 upon the recommendation of my grandmother, a fellow collector, and began picking up finds at antique stores, estate sales, yard sales, and thrift stores. I became obsessed as I added colorful pieces to my built-in shelves, falling especially in love with uranium glass and pieces from the Blenko and Fenton companies.

As my collection grew, I did research for a story on uranium glass. I joined a number of Facebook groups that center around this hobby and discovered a like-minded community of individuals across the globe. At first, I was happy enough to see everyone’s finds, comparing costs in different places and admiring the condition of the items. I read stories about pieces passed down from family members or valuable items found for amazingly cheap prices at thrift stores. People whose relatives had worked at the glass factories shared their memories.

Credit: Caroline Eubanks

In the uranium and glowing glass group, I learned about the many types of materials that make glass glow under blacklight, including cadmium, manganese, and selenium, as well as recommended brands of blacklights and glass cleaning supplies. Members also shared online versions of company catalogs to use as resources when treasure hunting.

I soon found out how supportive the groups were. When one member found a vintage Blenko decanter base, another member helped them find the right stopper for it. When I found a purple vase in the laundry room of an estate sale, I felt like it might be something special. I posted a picture and the Blenko group members were able to identify it as a rare and valuable 1930s piece. Now that I’ve found these online resources, I feel like I’m becoming an expert one Facebook post at a time — and honestly, it’s one of my favorite parts of the entire internet.