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Black sea glass fascinates me for two reasons. Firstly because it isn't, Black i mean, it's always a very dense colour, such as blur, red, or as shown here, a lovely deep honey colour. Secondly because it could be old, really old. While a lot of sea glass of this type was made at Seaham, there are also pieces being washed ashore from wrecks, and in the case of the North Sea, these can date from the 16th century as much as from the 19th. This piece has a colour that indicates it being made to protect a valuable cargo from sunlight, such as olive oil, or sherry.


Between the 1870s and 1930s, laws were passed in both the United States and the UK, that determined the colours and shapes of the bottles that were produced to contain poison; with many people being illiterate, it was essential that the colour, shape and embossed lettering of the bottle clearly indicated that it contained a dangerous substance. Bottles in colours such as cobalt blue, honey amber, black and emerald were produced, and ensured not only that they stood out from others on the shelf, but these shades also gradually became recognisable as containing substances for the public to be wary of. More decorative colours, shades of aqua, orange, yellow, red and more were used for ink bottles, as it was realised that these too were in fact poisons if consumed.


The Candlish glass and bottle works at Seaham, England was the source of most of the glass discovered on the beaches below the factory site. Discarded, broken or below standard glass, at the end of each day, was hurled from the cliffs and then tumbled, eroded and polished by the sea over many years. In it's day, the six bottle and glass houses formed the largest glass production facility in Europe and exported across the world. Everything from decorative glass items to the humble beer bottle was made at these glasshouses, and the volume of production meant that the volume of waste was also high, leading to Seaham and the adjoining beaches becoming a rich source of sea glass, even today, almost a hundred years since the factory was forced to close due to shortages of raw materials.

More information on John Candlish can be found on his Wiki page, , and the glassworks can be seen in this amazing archive,

Black Sea Glass keyring - or is it... E0590 - from Seaham, UK - (NE England)


  • Handmade item
  • Material: sea glass
  • Feedback: 739 reviews
  • Ships worldwide from Seaham Harbour, United Kingdom