A piece of Hanford history will go up for auction next month.
Bonhams, a British auction house, is expecting the former window to fetch $150,000 to $250,000.
The company indicates in its auction materials that the glass dates to World War II, when Hanford was racing to produce the plutonium for the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan.
That links the piece of glass to an event "central to our understanding of the evolution of the human species and the dual nature -- both destructive and creative -- of human ingenuity," according to Bonhams.
The heavily leaded glass was originally sold by the federal government to a salvage operator for its metal casement, before becoming a collector's item, Bonhams said.
Such Hanford artifacts are no longer easy to come by. Since the early '90s, Hanford officials have had agreements with state and federal historical preservation agencies to search out and save important items rather than letting them fall into private hands.
The yellow window that will be auctioned is described as a 54-by-36-inch rectangle of six-inch thick glass weighing 1,500 pounds.
The window is clear, but contains so much lead that it "reacts more like a metal than a glass, crumbling when ground or cut and sweating like ice when heated," according to Bonhams.
The glass would have been used to shield scientists or other workers from radioactive materials they worked with behind the glass.
It emits an eerie yellow glow, thanks to the lead, which "evokes the material's atomic origin," according to the auction house.
The glass is lit with three LED lights and mounted on a rustic antique wooden cart. The auction house assures bidders that it is not radioactive.
The Washington Post reports that the auction house has had success selling Hanford glass before, including an orb made from glass produced for Hanford that sold for $10,000 in 2012.
The window will be auctioned Oct. 22 in New York in a "History of Science" themed sale. Among the other items is an Apple 1 computer motherboard that makes the Hanford window a relative bargain at half the projected price.
For those who want to just look and not buy Hanford artifacts, the federal government is working to make that possible.
DOE has stepped up efforts to preserve Hanford artifacts as more buildings have been torn down in recent years as part of work to restore the nuclear reservation to its pre-World War II condition.
DOE has 1,615 items in its collection, said Colleen French, DOE government programs manager.
This year, historical specialists finished going through all Hanford buildings and facilities of historical significance to tag items that will be preserved, with the exception of some areas that will have ventilation improved for eventual environmental cleanup.
Many of those items have been picked up and stored and others, which are integral parts of structures, will be collected once demolition starts.
"Tax dollars paid to develop them and paid to maintain them," and the public should have access to them, French said.
In the next 12 months, DOE plans to look for a partner in the Tri-City area that can exhibit items along with information that will put them in context and tell the story of the Hanford nuclear reservation.
-- Annette Cary: 509-582-1533; email@example.com; Twitter: @HanfordNews