From its origins in early nineteenth-century Germany, mercury glass, also known as silvered glass, has enjoyed a loyal following—first among those for whom sterling was too dear for the budget and later with collectors who loved its antique look. Above: A mélange of mercury glass, linens, and gilded bibelots graces a china cabinet.
From a distance, it might be hard to tell the difference between mercury glass and silver, but closer inspection will reveal the true nature and nuances of this tarnish-free counterpart. The name itself is a misnomer, for it contains no mercury. In truth, it is composed of double-walled clear glass with a silver nitrate solution poured between the layers through a tiny hole, which is then plugged.