So what’s all the fuss about English Sea Glass? Why is it so beloved amongst sea glass aficionados? Most commonly found on beaches adjacent to the small coastal town of Seaham in northeast England, much of this glass originates from end-of-the-day river way dumping’s by Victorian-era decorative glass manufacturing companies. Tumbled for 150+ years by turbulent waves and currents, the glass eventually arrives on shore with a number of special features that sets it apart from sea glass elsewhere.
Unlike thinner, flatter vessel sea glass shards, English sea glass is often rounded, ranging in size from small marble-shaped ovals to large glass orbs, or ‘boulders,” that sit heavily in the palm of one’s hand. Some shards have an incredible luminosity, where they seem to glow from within.
Oftentimes, you may find “pontils” or ‘puntys,’ sometimes with dots of colored glass on the end. Even better are the “multies,’ which are shards of sea glass consisting of two or more colors. These resulted from different vats of clear and colored glass fusing together upon dumping. ‘Multies can also be found in other areas of the world on beaches situated near artisanal glass works (i.e. Davenport, CA. or shorelines near Murano, Italy) but English multies have a special flavor like nowhere else.
On these shorelines, you can also find a remarkable number of bottle stoppers, stopper stems and codd marbles, both clay and glass, that were used to seal bottles.
Each year at the Beachcombing Conference, we offer participants small wrapped packets of English sea glass, called “Lucky Dip,” but this practice may become a thing of the past within the next few years because of the expense. (We do have a sufficient supply for IBC ‘2016, so no worries!) The demand for this glass by collectors and sea glass jewelers has increased tenfold in the past decade, as have the number of people combing Seaham beaches for it. Poor Seaham. Its success as a sea glass capital may be its eventual demise, as quality English sea glass is getting harder and harder to find.