It’s pretty isn’t it? Does it keep time? Yes, it does. It’s made of copper. It runs on a mainspring and has to be wound up. This particular clock was made in West Germany. Year unknown. So why should the buyer beware? Is there some knock-off alarm clock at Target that has more bells and whistles? Nope.
Look at the hands of the clock. Notice that nice-looking green paint on them. And what about it? The green paint is called luminal. During the Edwardian era and clear into the Twenties, this paint was notorious for one overt bad element that wasn’t understood back then: it’s radioactive and can expose a person to a small dose of radiation. Luminal paint was applied because of its ‘glow-in-the-dark’ effect it produces. Over time, however, this paint loses its glow and the chemical structures break down. The small inset glass won’t protect from its radioactive properties, either.
Would you want this on your nightstand? I sure wouldn’t. I was keen to the painted hands after watching two very informative documentaries about Hidden Killers of the Victorian home and Hidden Killers of the Edwardian home.
Was luminal restricted to just clocks? Nope. Way back during the 19th and turn of the 20th centuries luminal was used in clothing, toys, and people even hosted luminal balls never realizing they were exposing themselves to radiation.
Both documentaries intrigued me immensely simply because I love both eras. I love how they dressed back then. But I don’t agree with their strict morals or domineering attitudes. It got me thinking so I reviewed all of my antiques, and thankfully, never collected anything with luminal paint on it. I do have books with gold-painted pages, gold-painted shaving mugs and some uranium glass known as carnival glass and depression (era) glass and the risk of heavy metal toxicity exposure still remains, perhaps.
I always strongly advise to wash and dry your hands before and after handling such antiques. Never touch your eyes, nose or mouth either, and don’t make a regular habit of drinking or eating off of the antique dinnerware. I will get more into the Transferware and Ironstone dishes in another post. However, the Vaseline glass does emit a glow when placed under a black light, so although not related to the luminal paint specifically, can fall into this category of glowing antiques. If you ever get the chance read about the Radiation girls its very creepy what they were subjected to being purposely mislead to believe that radium was safe.
The radiation girls were U.S. factory workers who all came down with radiation poisoning from ingesting the luminous paint used on the clock dials. They would lick their brushes to a fine point thus ingesting small levels of radiation.
So does this clock from West Germany contain radiation since the dials are painted? Who knows. But its better to be safe than sorry. Thanks for liking, commenting, re-blogging, sharing. I truly appreciate it. 🙂