Radioluminescence

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Radioluminescence is the amusing phenomenon of mixing a radioactive compound and a phosphorescent compound, resulting in the particles from the radioactive material energizing the phosphor compound, making it glow. Before the event of doping zinc sulfide with various metals to make it glow from stored sunlight, this was the only kind of glowing paint you could get.

The first, and probably most common, radioluminescent paint was a mixture of radium-226 in the form of a salt (Possibly radium chloride, RaCl?) with pure zinc sulfide. This was discovered by William Crookes, who was amusing himself by making zinc sulfide sparkle, when he spilled his radium all over it, and decided he liked the results. This paint was used THICKLY on basically all military equipment until about 1960.

Later on, young women emplyed to hand-paint dials of watches or what have you getting severe bone deterioration because radium, once ingested, masquerades as calcium, which is put into bones, but once in bones it gave them radiation poisoning, and then decided to leave, which didn't do any good for the bones at all. This resulted in a lengthy lawsuit, and eventually, the heavy restriction of radium paint..

Other more friendly isotopes where used in paints, such as the short-lived promethium, (half life of only 3.7 years, anything with promethium would hardly be radioactive today) and even today you can get watches with small glass vials of tritium gas with the insides coated in phosphors to illuminate the hands of your watch. Oddly enough I have never heard of any other isotopes being used, but I don't see why they couldn't be, so I guess I might just be waiting to hear about it.

This is my collection!

Travel Alarm Clocks

These are one of the most commonly found uses of radium-luminous paint, the folding travel alarm clock, consisting of a nice little box with a clock inside, when opened, the clock folds neatly out so it can be set on a night table next to your bed, and when you leave your hotel the next morning, simply snatch it from the table and it will fold into it's neat little case. Note: The three in the back are intact, the others are missing their case(acquired cheap from a clock repair hobbyist), and I have one loose face (Heavily varnished, no worries) from one that I dismantled.

Date added(year-month-day):20111012, sample number:15

Tags:radium, intentional, glow

Baltimore Radium Watch

This is a vintage pocket watch from about 1930-50s made by Ingraham clocks, and is particularly precious to me because it goes right out and says "RADIUM" on the dial, and there's nothing I like more then something that states the presence of an element. Sadly when I got it it was, as you can tell by the picture, pretty beat up, and missing it's front glass which makes it very dangerous, some of the radium paint has already flaked off the dial and there's hardly any left on the hands.. Immediately after this picture it was carefully sealed in a plastic bag, never to be disturbed again.

Date added(year-month-day):20110912, sample number:10

Tags:radium, intentional, glow

Westclox Radium

Westclox is a nice old clock company which, on numerous occasions, employed radium-luminous paint on the numbers of it's many clocks. This specific series named either Big Ben or Baby Ben is one of my favorite to collect, because they tend to be highly radioactive, and because we share a name. The clock face in the front is believed to be pre-1930s, and is varnished to assure radium doesn't get everywhere.

Date added(year-month-day):20110903, sample number:9

Tags:glow, intentional, radium

Timex Watch

Beautiful little Timex brand wrist watch, looks like the hands might be gold or gold plated, and it has radium paint on the hands. Not just any radium paint, but paint with emphasis on RADIUM, being twice as active as most my watches with much less paint. You can also tell because the radium areas are burned brown, where as less radium-thick paint will look green or white.

Date added(year-month-day):20110726, sample number:1

Tags:glow, intentional, radium

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