I display Trade Beads on our Walker Goldsmiths website to introduce the collections that are for sale and to highlight some wonderful history. I can say that each necklace that I’ve created is a collection of authentic antique beads with amazing histories. The posts here on Walker Goldsmiths and on activeartist.net are about trade bead histories.
This custom made necklace, TB485, Sharon’s Choice is an exquisite example of top of the line, highly collectible Trade Beads. I call it Sharon’s Choice because my favorite Bohemian/Polish girlfriend, Sharon, loves this piece! The large, appox. 1.5″, center faceted Cobalt Russian is a thing of beauty. This individual bead was probably made in Bohemia in the early 1800’s or earlier. Faceted glass beads were made and faceted by hand on the island of Murano, Italy as far back as the 1200’s and who knows when this shape and color were first created, but they were very popular for their beauty. The sweet 1/2″ red beads with the gold application are pressed glass from Venice. I’m guessing they were made to impress any Chinese trade. The individually made round blue monochrome beads are Gablonz, Bohemian as well as the 3/8ths” faceted Cobalt Blue Russians. These are the real deal in the world of “Blue Russians”, of Pacific Northwest Coast Fur Trade History. And the molded, faceted Red 3/8ths” glass beads are very old Venetian-made. There’s a few small chevrons, Bohemian crystals and Czech cobalt’s in this necklace as spacers.
We can’t know the exact age of a bead without some fancy scientific chemical analyses applications like Spectrometry or X-Ray Fluorescence, but we can often know the provenance from family member to member and other historical research like ships cargo lists and glass manufacturing work logs. I’ve found the least authentically reliable to be family stories as they always seem to be blown out of proportion, but they are the most fun and adventurous with shades of real possibilities.
This goes into the romance element for me to imagine the 5 W’s of a Trade Bead; What, When, Who, Why and Where! There’s names that have been given to the beads over time to identify them and we’re getting a better and better idea of What, When , Why & Where they come from with scientific techniques. Even Who made them is find-able. The real mystery is Who has had them over time and where have they been hiding all these years. It’s the real story and I love it! Is it your turn?
The TB485, Sharon‘s Choice Trade Bead Necklace is $250. from Walker Goldsmiths. Matching Earrings are also a possibility.