By Rebecca Ruger-Wightman
What’s in a name? When it comes to lime sea glass, the answer is…almost everything. Lime sea glass is perhaps the only sea glass color to correlate directly with the contents it once held—lemon-lime soda, most notably 7 Up.
Arguably the most vibrant shade of green, lime glass should not be confused with uranium or Vaseline glass, which glows under black light. Lime glass—sometimes called chartreuse—is lighter and brighter than Kelly or olive green, showing stronger hints of yellow than other greens. The glass color can be created with the addition of iron oxide, sulfur, and/or calcium.
Most of the lime green glass you find comes from the 20th century. 7 Up was created in 1929, originally named Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda. (Yes, you read that right.) Until 1936, when the name 7 UP was decided upon, the original name reflected the addition of lithium citrate, a mood-altering drug, which remained in the recipe until 1948, often being promoted as “the feel good soda” and also sometimes marketed as a hangover remedy.
Other sodas that also came in lime green bottles—also selling lemon-lime sodas—are Sprite (read more about special edition Sprite bottles on page 44), Squirt, Mello Yello, Upper 10 (from RC Cola company), and Ski Citrus Soda, to name a few.
Several beers were once been poured from lime green bottles, but not in numbers that even come close to soda, and in recent years, fewer and fewer green bottles are used for beer. It used to be that green beer bottles shouted “foreign” beer, which back in the day equaled “better” beer. But over time, the green bottles came also to be known for an occasionally “skunky” odor, which was a result of the green bottle filtering out less light than a brown bottle. Ultraviolet light reacts chemically with the hops used to produce the beer and results in a skunk-like odor. Though using a brown bottle (or can or keg) instead of a bright green bottle can reduce the incidence of “lightstruck” beer, some brands still feel that using green glass is more important than the flavor of their beer.
Because plastic began to gain popularity in the 1970s, it’s safe to say that lime green sea glass you might find originated sometime between the 1920s and the 1970s. There are rare occasions of apothecary and some over-the-counter medicines being sold in lime glass jars and bottles from perhaps the later 1800s until as late as the 1950s. But these would be rare finds indeed, and like so much sea glass, hard to definitively identify, absent any telltale markings.
Lime glass was also made as art glass or Depression glass. Beginning in the 1920s and perhaps produced in greatest quantity by the Federal Glass Company of Columbus, Ohio, many patterns of Depression glass were made in lime green, one of dozens of colors used in all kinds of Depression glass patterns and sets.
A very pleasant combination of freshness and energy, lime green sea glass may be found as often as one in 50 pieces, or as rarely as one in 500, as always, depending upon your location.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine July/August 2019 issue