Morning at the beach

The second lowest tide of the month of May was around 8:30 AM on Tuesday the 28th. I was determined to return to the beach that day to collect sea glass. The advice is to go one hour before and stay one hour after low tide. I planned to be at the beach from 7:30 until 9:30. This meant that I would need to take the 6:54 train to arrive in time.

Luckily, I caught the train just before it arrived, at 6:53 AM. It was about 7:20 by the time I got to the beach. Sunrise was at 5:12 AM, so the sun was already pretty high above the horizon. Although the weather forecasts said it would be 55-57 °F from 7 to 9 AM, it felt much warmer than that.

Taken at 7:20 AM

The sun was shining down onto the beach, through a cloudless sky. There was little to no wind. The water was calm, as the tide was negative at the time. Seagulls flew overhead, dropping clams from above to crack the shells. They had various calls, and one of them sounded just like “hello.”

At low tide

The plastic bag that I had used to collect shells in last time had some sand in the bottom. I brought it with me, with the intention of returning the sand to the beach. However, as I was dumping the sand out, I was concerned that people might think I was littering on the beach. There was one site with tips on beachcombing, and the author said to bring a plastic bag to collect trash with. Since I had an extra bag, I decided that I might as well use this one for any garbage that I found. There was a scrap of plastic and a discarded paper cup nearby, so into the bag they went.

I took some more steps toward the pebbles that the waves had brought onto the sand. When I looked down, I saw something blue and translucent. There it was. My first sea glass find of the day was a blue piece! I wanted to find a blue piece because I think they’re the prettiest. Then I found a green piece.

The piece is cornflower blue, even though it doesn’t appear that color in the photo. It’s not pictured where I found it.

When it’s sunny, it’s easier to search for sea glass than when it’s overcast. However, reflection alone does not help because wet rocks and shells will also shine in the sunlight. I noticed that it helped to have the light shining down and reflecting towards me, so I walked up and down the beach.

When I wanted to wash the sand off of a piece of glass or my hands, I counted my steps as I walked down to the water, so I would know roughly where to return to. When the tide was lowest, I counted 50-60 steps. After it rose, it only took 30 paces for me to reach the water.

Negative low tide. The water flows in small streams between the raised portions.

I kept wondering if I was being greedy. I remembered in one of the Little House books, Laura and Mary had found pretty pebbles, but “Laura was a greedy little girl” and took too many so that her pocket ripped. I feared something similar happening to my bag, so I held it by the bottom, where the sea glass was. Meanwhile, I held the garbage bag by the handles. I tried to justify my taking the pieces I found because I took the time to search for them. But should I leave some behind for other people? I didn’t even comb one third of the beach, though, so there possibly is more sea glass along other parts of the shore.

Everything that I had found up till 11:00. They’re not that great, but I’m just collecting for fun.
I didn’t want to take the mouth of the bottle at first, but it was frosted and rounded all over, so I wonder how old it is. Even now the thought that it had once touched another person’s lips makes me feel strange.

I found quite a few pieces of trash on the beach. Some could argue that sea glass is trash as well. I felt okay picking them up with my fingers. However, I didn’t feel comfortable picking up a latex glove, so I used the interior of the bag to grab it. The interesting thing was that nearly every time after I picked up a piece of trash, I found a rare color piece of sea glass nearby. One could say that it’s good karma, but it also makes sense because the garbage and glass washed ashore together. However, helping to clean up the beach is nice act to the wildlife and to other people who visit the beach.

A tiny cobalt blue piece!

Tiny red and yellow fragments

After finding a few tiny pieces of red, blue, and even yellow sea glass, and a ton of greens, I no longer picked up most of the green pieces I saw. I also passed up several white and brown pieces if they did not seem ready enough, and only kept the ones that had unique shapes or were well frosted. I had read that seasoned collectors will even pass up a rare color if the piece isn’t frosted all over or has imperfections, such as chips and cracks. I stopped picking up green pieces unless they were good pieces, but I still ended up keeping many not so good ones. I’m thinking maybe I should bring the premature pieces back to the same beach, if I were ever to return.

The large blue piece I didn’t keep because it wasn’t “ready” yet.

I also found a large blue piece of glass, but it was not frosted enough, so I left it where it was. There was also a light blue shard that was quite a beautiful color, but it could be frosted more. I couldn’t decide what to do with it, but finally returned it to the sea. I dropped it in as the waves swallowed it and it was no longer visible.

I threw back the light blue piece.

I saw the tide rise, and it was 11:00 when decided to head back. However, as I was leaving, I spotted a beautifully frosted piece of sea glass. Then I spotted more larger, well frosted pieces among the larger pebbles higher up. Why had I been spending so much time at all the small pebbles? The rare colors were there but they were all very small pieces. I ended up not leaving the beach until 11:40.

I did a lot of walking, bending over, and squatting that day. My feet hurt and the smallest toes on both feet still felt numb two days later.

Original post 6/8/13

How old is that piece of sea glass?

I was reading more on sea glass last night when I came upon dating bottle fragments by markings. Thinking about that large green piece of the base of a bottle that I found, I was curious to learn more about it. The edges were quite frosted but there were a few chips, which probably happened more recently. I thought it might be a beer bottle, and since I don’t drink beer, I would have no idea what was usually at the base of beer bottles.

It was obvious that the word ended in “glas” but I wasn’t sure what the beginning read, or how many letters had been lost. While I first thought a letter looked like a ‘w’ followed by an ‘a’, last night I thought maybe it was a ‘u’ and then guessed, from the ‘r’ and ‘a’ that the whole word could be “duraglas”, since it sounded like a possible name.

When I Googled “duraglas” the first result was from the Society for Historical Archaeology page. It explained that the script Duraglas notation on bottles produced by the Owens-Illinois Glass Company was used starting in 1940 and continued until the mid-1950s. That meant that this bottle fragment could be from the 1950s at the latest!

According to this site, which has several pictures of antique Owens-Illinois bottles, “Typically, the number on the LEFT of the diamond logo is the plant code number, the number on the RIGHT is a year date code, and the number below the logo indicates the mold number.”

The bottle that I found had the old O-I trademark, with the diamond, oval, and I in the center, which was gradually phased out over a period of four or five years, beginning in 1954.

If the number to the right of the logo is indeed the date, well tough luck, since part of it is missing. However, it looks as though there is a 4. I’m not sure if there is anything to the right of the 4, such as another digit that has broken off, or a period.

An article on the SHA page discusses the dates on the bottles. “Owens-Illinois continued the singledigit numeral/period system until 1946, although the company began integrating a two-digit system as early as 1943, but the 43 date code is rare…. Bottles made in 1943-1946 may contain either single-digit numerals followed by periods or doubledigit markings, such as a 4. or 44 for 1944.”

Could this bottle fragment be from 1944? Either way, it seems like it could be from any time between 1944 to 1954, inclusive.

Although I have been unable to find an image of a bottle that has “Duraglas” below the numbers, given the green color, I now think that this most likely was a 7 Up bottle.

Edit: I actually wrote this post yesterday. This morning I found a picture of a bottle from 1952, in which “Duraglas” is below the numbers, but it’s still not quite the same.

If anyone has any more information on this, I’d appreciate it if you’d share it!

Original post from 5/23/13 9:39 PM

Beach trip

Although I first learned about sea glass when I read this article back in 2010, I didn’t become interested in actually finding some until last week. That’s when I decided I needed to go to a beach before leaving Massachusetts. Although there are plenty of beaches in California, the northern California ones are rocky and windy. (Interestingly, those beaches are good locations for finding sea glass. However, once I get home, I won’t have the freedom to go to the beach.) All the “best” beaches for recreation in Massachusetts are on Cape Cod, but I don’t have a way to get there.

I researched what I could about finding sea glass on beaches. Although Revere Beach isn’t known for sea glass, it was listed as a beach where sea glass could be found, and it is accessible by subway. The station is just a short walk from the beach.

My original plan was to go there with my sister on Sunday at noon, because low tide was at 1:00 PM. However, we were both very sleepy on Sunday, so we didn’t go anywhere.

On Monday afternoon I had a PT appointment. The weather forecast included thunder storms after 3 PM, so I thought going to the beach wouldn’t be a good idea. Besides, low tide was during my appointment. I didn’t get out until after 3:30. By then it was 81 °F and muggy outside, and it didn’t look like there would be a thunder storm, so my sister and I headed off to the beach.

We stayed there until about 5:30 PM.

 Although the temperature at the beach was reported to be 81 °F, it felt much cooler there. There was a breeze, but it wasn’t terribly windy. Still, I felt I needed to wear a sweatshirt, and thankfully my sister let me use hers.

I was amazed by all the sea shells on the sand. I have never seen such a sight before, since all the beaches I’ve been to were just rocky, with little sand, and practically no shells, but lots of seaweed. The flatness of Revere Beach makes it not as good for sea glass finds. However, after stopping to look at and pick up shells, I finally made my way to the tide line. Amongst the pebbles, I spotted something green and frosted.

My first piece of sea glass, though it’s not where I found it. I thought that little claw was cute.

I was excited to have actually found a piece, even though it was green and not worth much. Afterward, my sister started finding them, and she turned out to be better at it than I am. She found the brown and white piece. Those three are the most common colors, of course. I don’t really care for finding orange, even though it’s the rarest, simply because I don’t like the color orange. I also found part of the bottom of a bottle. I don’t think it was that great, since the whole piece wasn’t frosted, but I decided to keep it. I threw several pieces back into the water because they were still not completely frosted yet. Looking at the pieces I collected, I now think I could have left a lot of them behind. However, I do like the sea foam green one that I found.

The sea glass that my sister and I found. It’s not that great, hehe.

I plan to go back to the beach before leaving Massachusetts, since the low tide will be negative next week. The time on the day when it is lowest is quite early, but the next day it’s at 8:30 AM, which I think isn’t too bad. If I can get up at 6 AM I can arrive by 7:30. Sunrise is at 5, after all. I hope the weather will be nice.

The thought of going out to the beach by myself makes me feel a bit uncomfortable, but after going with my sister, I know what to expect, so I think I will be fine. I am not sure if it’s worth it for me to bother going again, but I didn’t look at the whole beach last time. Also, it wasn’t sunny, so it was hard to discern dark glass from rocks. (Then again, they could have all been rocks.) Even if I don’t find any sea glass, I might still be able to take some nice photos.

Tiny shells on a large one. The smallest ones measure 7 mm.

Original post 5/22/13 8:18 PM