of you know I sell many small collections of antique and reproduction
items on "eBay" from time to time. Recently I have been
cleaning out some of my personal wares in an attempt to lower my
the most resent items have been strands of original trade beads, some very
rare ones I found out. Some of these beads have traveled at least three
continents, and have graced numerous owners before finding me thirty years
ago. I know very little about "trade beads" and
have gained in knowledge more in the last month than in forty years from
"bead" collectors. This was a good lesson in "do
your homework" when your not sure of what you have.
Of over 40 strands of
these beads, some having over 50 beads per strand, mixed varieties from
all over Europe to Africa. My very favorite strand that I decided to keep
was a group of (30) "Lewis & Clark" trade beads with (3)
"Ambassadors" trade beads in the center. This has driven the
collectors crazy trying to make deals to get hold of this strand as they
are not chipped or cracked, only signs are that of being used. Pictured
below are a few other "Lewis & Clark" trade beads
that I did sell.
LEWIS & CLARK Trade
Other names: trade
beads, "Lewis & Clark", fancy florals
Type of bead: wound
Made in: Venice
Found in : Africa
Approximate Age: early
Overall Condition: Small
corrosion, and pitting are a normal part of their patina attesting to
their age and extensive use. Another mystery is who wore
them before those that will have them next.......after us.
Bead size: Beads
are 10-15mm in diameter.
Strand length: 31
Example of a
strand of original trade beads.
The term "Trade
Beads" typically applies to beads made predominately in Venice
and Bohemia and several other European countries from the late 1400s
through to the late 1800s.The heyday of this "trade"
period was from the mid 1700s through the late 1800s when millions
of these beads were produced and traded in Africa and the Americas.
The Venetians dominated the
market and produced the majority of the beads sold during this time
period. The J. F. Sick and Co, based in Germany and Holland was one
of the largest bead brokers/importers during this period. Moses
Lewin Levin was a bead importer exporter operating out of London
from 1830 to 1913. More information may be found in The History
of Beads (Dubin).
Today these beads are more
popular and collectable than ever. Thousands of these beads are in
private collections around the world.
To learn more about
"trade beads" read;
The History of Beads (Dubin),
Collectable Beads(Liu), Ornaments From the Past: Bead Studies After
Beck (Bead Study Trust), The Bead Is Constant (Wilson), Arizona
Highways (July1971), Africa Adorned (Fisher) and the John and Ruth
Picard series of books; Volume III - Fancy Beads from the West
African Trade, Volume IV - White Hearts, Feather and Eye Beads from
the West African Trade, VolumeV - Russian Blues, Faceted and Fancy
Beads from the West African Trade, Volume VI - Millefiori Beads from
the West African Trade and Volume VII - Chevron and Nueva Cadiz
qui én negocia"