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Using A Blacklight To Inspect Antiques Before An Auction

Friday, June 14th, 2019
antique auctions in the texas panhandle

People can use a number of unscrupulous tricks to misrepresent the items they are trying to sell. They can hide or mislead you regarding the age or condition of antique items. They can also try to mislead reputable auction houses into selling fake items. You can find a way around many of these misrepresentations by using a blacklight, which can reveal a lot of information about the condition of an antique. You should always work with reliable auction dealers who stand behind the authenticity of their items as well.

How do black lights work?

A black light emits ultraviolet radiation through a wavelength not visible to the human eye. When this electromagnetic spectrum reflects off of an object, it produces a light you can see. This reflection is what shows you any previously repaired areas on certain items or touch-ups that have been applied. Some antiques are known to glow under specific ultraviolet light, while a more modern reproduction of some pieces will not glow. Read more to find out about which types of antiques a black light examination will help you determine authenticity.


Specific forms of glassware will glow when placed under a black light and this will help you determine authenticity. Both vaseline glass and depression glass contain uranium oxide, which will make them glow under a fluorescent light. You can research glassware before attending an auction to determine whether the pieces you’ll be looking at have an established fluorescent effect.

Ephemera on paper

Posters, baseball cards, photos, postcards, and certain other paper products created before 1930 will rarely glow under a black light. During the 1940s, paper manufacturers began to use chemicals known as optical brighteners to make paper whiter. This means it will most likely glow under UV light. The effect will tell you if the paper product is older than the 1940s.

Cast iron

There are a lot of interesting pieces created from painted cast iron material at auctions. They include door stops, coin banks, and mechanical toys. Some of these pieces can be valuable if you find them in good condition with their original paint intact.

There are a lot of reproductions of cast iron antiques too, and they are not always easy to spot. If one is constructed or repaired with modern glue or paint, it will show up under a black light.


If an antique dealer has repaired a piece of fine porcelain, you may not be able to see the change. When you use a black light, you can see any touch-ups done with glue or modern paint. The black light will also help you distinguish between soft-paste porcelain or hard-paste porcelain pieces. Soft paste porcelain will glow deep purple or blue and hard paste porcelain will glow white.

Other important information about using a black light on antiques

The black light test will not provide you with all the information you need about an antique. You should still conduct a test or exam in with an expert if you can. You can speak with one before buying an antique of considerable value. Also, you may be able to find valuable antiques at auction that do not appear to be by using a black light.

Auctions in the Texas Panhandle

If you are looking for auctions in the Texas Panhandle, contact the reputable experts at High Plains Auctioneers today. You can reach us at (806) 244-6776 or Contact Us by email. You can also check out our Upcoming Auctions to see a catalog of what we will have available!