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(Search pattern:amber beadman, since Mon, Apr 04, 2005, 21:32:55)

Travelling to Morocco
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Posted by: quadrastreet Post Reply
12/20/2007, 14:45:11

I'm going to be in Southern Spain for a month in September 2008, and was thinking I'd do a week in Morocco.

Do you have any suggestions on finding trade beads to buy in Morocco? What cities or towns should I visit?



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Re: Trade Beads In Morocco
Re: Travelling to Morocco -- quadrastreet Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/21/2007, 02:14:24

Hi Quad,

No doubt you can find some trade beads almost anywhere in Africa, though they continue to become more and more scarce. However, Morocco is not really a place where you should expect to find many, and few bargains. The "home" of trade beads is West Africa, particularly Ghana and environs.

In Morocco, I would spend my time searching for locally made beads and traditional beads/jewelry of North Africa—their fabulous enameled silver, coral, amber (admittedly imported, though they probably think of most of this as "theirs"), and also unique beads such as carved wood, scented paste beads and the like, and beadwork. There are also new local beadmaking industries, some of which make unique or unusual products.

Be on guard for the ubiquitous newly imported beads from India and China, that are neither trade beads nor traditional elements.

Have a great time.

Jamey



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yellow ovals
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Posted by: kees Post Reply
12/14/2007, 08:31:53

can somebody help with those yellow egg shaped beads?
they are about 15 mm long x10 mm diameter.
i am looking for about 75 pieces.
thanks

1_yellow_ovals.jpg (150.4 KB)  


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My "Berber" Necklace
Re: yellow ovals -- kees Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/14/2007, 14:41:34

Hello Kees,

This is a necklace from my collection that I made in about 1982. In 1980 I made my first trip to the eastern US, with stops in New York and Boston. In Boston, I went to the Harvard campus museums, and at one of the gift stores I found this enameled Berber pendant. I combined it with some silver Berber coins I had previously bought from Liza Wataghani, and added some Venetian trade beads—including the plain wound yellow beads that more-or-less resemble amber—chosen because they have the same colors as the pendant (yellow, green, dark blue). Berbers love amber.

So there it is.

Jamey

05JA_berber_nk.jpg (37.2 KB)  


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what are the yellow beads?
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Posted by: Carlene Post Reply
12/14/2007, 06:08:23

a Netherlands customer collects beads from all over the world. he has been looking for the yellow ones in the picture which he believes are Dutch from the 1800-1900s and traded into Africa. he would like to know more and would also like to find some of these for his collection. any info would be helpful...

Carlene

kralenfromKees.jpg (165.9 KB)  


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Not Dutch
Re: what are the yellow beads? -- Carlene Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/14/2007, 11:00:51

Hi Carlene,

Having viewed the collections of Dutch beads recovered in Holland, and particularly in this context the plain wound beads, I can say I have not seen any opaque yellow specimens, such as would have been made to resemble amber. These beads are most likely Venetian, and are from the 19th to 20th centuries. The yellow glass is virtually the same as the glass used to make "Hudson's Bay beads"—the red-on-yellow overlay beads (such as Joy shows in her post here), that are usually either spheroidal or cylindrical.

The only "yellow" Dutch beads are those in the translucent brown group, that might be considered to slightly resemble amber.

I do not doubt that other European industries also made plain wound yellow beads, similar to the Venetian types. However, not the Dutch, and not in the early 18th C.

Jamey



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amber?
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Posted by: chezmew Post Reply
12/09/2007, 03:44:04

Hi everyone,

Could someone lead me in the right direction for some good information on Amber?

I just love it, and I am seeing colors of Amber that I have never seen before, like the lemon color.......?

I also recently purchased this pendant on Ebay...150192122035

I probably paid too much, I bought @ the "buy it now price", but it was only $6. higher than the opening bid.

I really wanted it, obviously........ :)

Can anyone explain to me how this was done?

Carved from the back, to make the stripes & other details?

Any imput would help me.

I plan to incorporate this piece into something nice, hopefully w/ more cherry Amber if possible.

Thanks so much and I really enjoy this forum!

Susan



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Re: Amber?
Re: amber? -- chezmew Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/09/2007, 07:10:07

Hi Susan,

Amber is one of my specialties.

Joyce and I have agreed that in the near future I will compose an informational article about amber, that will go up here.

For some information about "cherry amber" read the posts gleaned from recent messages archived here, via the link below. (I did a search on "cherry amber" encompassing 300 to 30 days ago.)

Your piece does appear to be carved on the back side—and the description also says that. It is certainly not "cherry amber," and that's a name that should be discarded. The question may be if your piece is really amber (?). Perhaps is it—but MANY things that are called amber are not; and most things that are called "cherry amber" are not amber.

Nevertheless, it is a good-looking pendant.

Jamey


Related link: http://beadcollector.net/cgi-bin/anyboard.cgi?fvp=%2Fopenforum%2F&tK=cherry+amber&wT=1&yVz=yTz&aO=1&hIz=300&hJz=20&cmd=find&by=&xcfgfs=tK-wT-yVz-aO-hKz

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Friday Show and Tell: Snazzy Little Wound & Trailed Beads
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Posted by: Joyce Post Reply
11/09/2007, 18:32:47

I couldn't resist this little strand on the 5.00 table at the flea market last Sunday. When I have seen such beads loose, I have guessed them to perhaps be Czech, or maybe even Japanese. But here, they are strung with little filigree caps and red thread in the way that many strands from Italy are done. They're matte, and feel very nice. They're only about 6mm x 10mm. Any ideas re. age/origin?

DSC03866.jpg (114.6 KB)  


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Re: Saturday Show and Tell: some of my pure trash
Re: Saturday Show and Tell: Fat Indo-Pacific Necklace -- Joyce Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: vikuk Post Reply
11/10/2007, 09:19:35

This stuff - which is modern - really is supposed to be made out of trash - sweepings from the amber jewelry workshop. The beads themselves have lumps of "stuff" inside them - the type of stuff one could imagine being found on your average asian floor (talk about inclusions :)
But there still seems to be enough amberite type material in these beads that allow 'em to pass the amber tests. They smell right after being tortured with glowing metals - and gawd blimey - they float in brine.
I reckon the beads come from Burma - they are made up into these big 108bead malas - sold as Tibetan - and I aint ever seen a tibetan wearing this stuff - never. But they're fun trash - I like 'em

amber_mala_1.JPG (60.3 KB)  test_1.JPG (51.8 KB)  


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[empty of content]
Re: Re: Saturday Show and Tell: some of my pure trash -- vikuk Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
11/11/2007, 12:59:10



Modified by Beadman at Sun, Nov 11, 2007, 13:00:02

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'Asian Pressed Amber' ?
Re: Re: Saturday Show and Tell: some of my pure trash -- vikuk Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
11/11/2007, 12:59:29

Dear Vikuk,

Reading your message, it sounds as though you may think that pressed amber (ambroid) is made by beadmakers in Asia, who would take discarded material and reconstruct it.

In fact, although this is a suggestion that has been made many times, there is no evidence that pressed amber has ever been made in Asia, and is only made at three locations: Germany (where it was invented in 1881), Poland, and Russia.

An assumption has been made that anyone can take some amber—because it is resin—melt it and reform pieces into larger blocks (or whatever). Actually, because of the physical change that amber resins have undergone, real amber, when heated, does not melt and become a liquid. It becomes, at best, a hot gummy mass. furthermore, if it is not hot enough it hardens, and if it is a few degrees too hot, it catches fire. In order to press amber, an apparatus is required that gauges temperature very precisely, and can then apply great pressure on the material to press it. Consequently only industries that have these machines make pressed amber.

When I was in China in 1997 I bought prayer beads similar to those you show (and from a retail store here in California, recently). It is difficult to know the source of this amber, whether it's Chinese, from Borneo (the source for "root amber"), Burma, or what. The amber seems dark colored and to have darker inclusions. It may look "pressed" but isn't--as demonstrated by uncut nodules. But it is very unlikely the amber has been pressed unless it is imported from Europe as such. Of course, I suppose that sooner of later the Chinese will HAVE this equipment. But we cannot assume that any amber is pressed in Asia until we know that is a fact.

Jamey



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Tibetan Prayer beads, part ll
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Posted by: chezmew Post Reply
11/05/2007, 19:11:42

I picked up several strands @ a show recently, they are very nice, about 8mm in size, carved from yak bone (I believe that's what he said), w/ inlaid silver, turquoise & coral.

Some strands are lighter in color, the beads have been bleached, while the unbleached strands are more of a coffee w/ cream color.

Said to have been made in Nepal, but is there a website that maybe specializes in Tibetan prayer beads?

Thanks,

Susan



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Re: "Tibetan?"
Re: Re: "Tibetan" -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: nishedha Post Reply
11/07/2007, 00:54:02

It would be interesting to know how many of old "Tibetan Beads" were made in Tibet proper...



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Re: "Made In Tibet" ?
Re: Re: "Tibetan?" -- nishedha Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
11/07/2007, 12:15:13

Hello Nishedha,

It is always been my contention that most of Tibet's beads—agates (particularly), coral, amber, and turquoise were imported (from India, the Mediterranean, China, Northern Europe, and Persia). I have said this many times. So the answer may be "very few."

Nevertheless, it's clear that the Newari metal smiths of Nepal have made many beads and artifacts for Tibetans and Greater-Himalayans; and I do not doubt that Tibetans may have made beads for malas from materials like wood and seeds. I also expect they made beads such as the mosaic-coral beads that are based on recycling broken specimens.

The problem with current beads is not just that they are not "made in Tibet." The problem is that they are passed-off as "old" or even "ancient," with the inference that they were owned and used by Tibetans—when many current beads were made in China, may have no Tibetan tradition to speak of, and were made for export and to be misrepresented as "Tibetan" (based on some diabolical idea that China "owns" Tibet). It is the misrepresentation that I resent most. Followed by their mistaken identity.

Jamey



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I am probably mistaken.............
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Posted by: mosquitobay Post Reply
08/24/2007, 19:37:52

I am probably mistaken about this, but I thought I recalled a discussion on this forum or NBS a few years ago that the whole fake amber business started in the late 1800's. (?)



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Copal-like resins have been substituted for amber since ROMAN times.
Re: I am probably mistaken............. -- mosquitobay Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
08/25/2007, 16:38:05



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So-called "African Amber" - can anyone document the popular eBay concept....
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Posted by: Joyce Post Reply
08/24/2007, 16:31:17

We're going to focus on search criteria "African Amber" on eBay, contacting sellers re. corrections that need to be made re. representation. Popular descriptions include allegations that ground up amber particles are bound by synthetic resins, that copal is bound by synthetic resins, and that these are considered "African Amber". Can anyone show any documentation of this at all, besides "my eBay seller told me so" or "my African trader told me so"? If this were actually done, wouldn't there be a known manufacturer in the Dominican Republic, or somewhere in Europe?

I remember the Picard's sample card posted on the old nbs forum ages ago, I believe from Czechoslovakia, with the title "Simulated Amber" - exact examples of some of the phenolic plastic beads from the west African trade. But "Simulated" does not mean it contains amber, any more than simulated leather contains genuine leather.

Sorry to be redundant re. certain points. Even horn is being titled on eBay as "African Amber".

Getting back to the real stuff, and there is genuine and lovely amber from the African trade, worth dollars per gram....two tablespoons dissolved salt in 8 oz. water will be a helpful guide. If the bead in question sinks like a chunk of lead, it's NOT amber. If it floats, it is LIKELY amber.


Related link: Amber Test
Modified by Server Admin at Fri, Aug 24, 2007, 17:50:48

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Re: So-called "African Amber"
Re: So-called "African Amber" - can anyone document the popular eBay concept.... -- Joyce Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
08/25/2007, 16:35:40

Hi Joyce,

It feels like I have posted this a million times.

The most numerous fake amber beads, found throughout Africa, and at many other places, are cast phenolic plastic beads, most made in Europe (probably Germany, as near as I can tell), and sold everywhere as "amber." This plastic was developed and commercially released in 1926. Therefore, this year, none of these beads is older than eighty-one (81) years old. Many are newer. Perhaps MUCH NEWER.

There are lots of things that can be done with and to amber to alter, beautify, or extend it. When ambroid (pressed amber) is made (by fusing very small pieces together), it is not unusual for a VERY SMALL QUANTITY of other resins or plastics to be added to increase flow. (Because true amber does not liquify when it's melted. It just gets gummy!) It would be less than 5 %—and is permitted by law to be added.

This fact, taken out of proportion and turned around, has become skewed to where people will say that their PLASTIC beads "have some amber in them." Or are "amber mixed with plastic" or "mixed with resin." 99 % of the time (maybe 100%), these are nothing more than entirely plastic beads.

There is an amber preparation, in which small pieces or particles of actual Baltic amber are suspended in Damar resin. But when you view this material, you can SEE the amber bits in a transparent yellow matrix. It is called Bernit, or Bernat. A similar material, amber bits in polyester resin, is called Polybern.

Since a high percentage (easily 75 %) of fake amber beads are phenolic, it would be IMPOSSIBLE for those beads to have ANY amber in them. Repeat—IMPOSSIBLE. The temperatures necessary for the production of the plastic would destroy any amber particles. (Amber is a delicate, heat-sensitive material.) Plus, there would be no chance for the amber and plastic to melt together. At best, we would see chunks of amber floating in a plastic base—and that is exactly what we do not see with phenolic plastic beads. The above products (ambroid, Bernit or Bernat, and Polybern) are the origin of the bogus stories that "my beads are amber mixed with resin," for what are factually just commercial plastic beads.

Since there is now at least one company that claims to be producing "synthetic amber," to call commonplace plastic beads "synthetic amber" is bogus.

While a brine test will immediately indicate imitations that are heavier than amber (such as old Celluloid and phenolic plastics), just because a material floats in brine, this does not, in any way, "prove" it's authentic amber. Some synthetic plastics float in brine, and even in plain water (!). The brine test is good to prove a bead is a fake. It does not prove a bead is authentic. To get closer to authenticity, it is necessary to perform a hot-point text. Even then, it takes chemical analyses to make a legal case, and to determine the SOURCE of the amber.

I generally do not affirm that I can prove a bead is amber. What I say is that I can often (nearly always) prove it when the bead is NOT amber.

"Amber" is a popular name. It is NOT a scientific and/or legal name (except where the name—"bernstein"—is legally regulated—as in Germany). To be scientific, we have to talk about succinite ("SOO-kin-ite"). A material is either succinite or it is not. Many fossil resins that are not succinite are still honesty called "amber." But the folks in countries that produce succinite may argue as to whether the other stuff is "amber" because it is not succinite. This alternative amber (collectively usually "retinite") comes from Burma, Sicily, Romania, Borneo, The Dominican Republic, and México. But there are no international laws that prevent anyone from calling ANY material he/she pleases "amber." The problem is that by doing so, the vast majority think the material is either Baltic amber (succinite) or from one of the other recognized sources listed above (retinite).

"Copal" collectively refers to any of several semi-fossil or even RECENT resins that may resemble amber, and like amber can be made into beads and jewelry. Some say "copal amber" to reinforce this similarity. Copal resins are raw or merely thousands of years old, and have not undergone the structural changes that true amber has received over millions of years. It is softer and has a lower melting point. It tends to biodegrade in only a few years. (It falls to pieces. Amber will do that too—but it takes much longer.)

In the current marketplace, copal is known from only three sources, in terms of being made into beads and jewelry on a commercial scale: The Dominican Republic, Guinea Bissau (West Africa), and Colombia (South America). From all three sources, this copal can be (and IS) passed-off as "amber." This is misrepresentation, pure-and-simple, because copal does not have the required physical properties of real amber (succinite and retinite). To complicate matters, from as early as 1972, phenolic plastic beads—the same beads called "African amber"—are also often called "copal"—even though the material is 100 % plastic.

It is very difficult to convince Africans, and many other people, of the truth of the above.

I moderate a Bead Group at Yahoo, to discuss just these issues and problems.

Jamey



Modified by Beadman at Sat, Aug 25, 2007, 16:52:36

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New eBay Categorization for Collectible Beads
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Posted by: Joyce Post Reply
08/16/2007, 06:03:39

I've just received word from eBay that in October they will be offering a new categorization system for listing beads. Beads will be a subcategory to Collectibles, with 4 different age groupings.

Thus far, it is our understanding that this will be an additional listing option.

Our contact asked us to post this information so that eBay buyers and sellers will be aware of this new option for listing.

Collectibles

Beads

Ancient (Pre-1000 AD)
Antique (1000-1899)
Modern (1900-1945)
Contemporary (1946-Now)



Modified by Joyce at Thu, Aug 16, 2007, 06:12:43

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Everything in the world is "collectible."
Re: Re: Instead of thinking about DATES, think whether these are "Collectible Beads." -- Ray Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
08/20/2007, 09:51:50

But that's not what the term means. See Collectible Beads—a useful book by Robert K. Liu (and a book I was consulted to contribute to).

JDA.



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Re: "Collectible."
Re: Everything in the world is "collectible." -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
08/21/2007, 07:25:03

In recent years, there has been a significant tendency on the part of bead sellers to call ALL of the beads they offer "trade beads." I have written to countless people saying, "these are not 'trade beads.' They are [whatever those beads are]. If the name 'trade bead' is applied to any and all beads, it ceases to be a useful name. Please do not call these beads 'trade beads.' Thanks."

So now I say the same thing in this context.

Not every bead is a "collectible bead." If every bead is called a "collectible bead," the term (and the eBay category) becomes meaningless. The term should be reserved for beads that are significant enough to have a following, that have established collectibility, and are desired by collectors.

Are there plastic collectible beads? Absolutely. But that doesn't mean ALL plastic beads "are collectible." Come on people! Try some critical thinking. All ducks are birds, but not all birds are ducks. THINK.... The collectible plastic beads that come to my mind first are the early 20th C. (Modern) phenolic plastic beads that are sold as "amber" (from an African context)—but are actually European trade beads. Next, the phenolic plastic beads of the 1930s that are generally called "Bakelite" (although they are not), that were the costume jewelry of the swing generation, and of poor folks. (See Whoopi Goldberg in "The Color Purple"). However, this is NOT to say that cheap mass-produced plastic beads should be elevated to the status of being "collectible." Maybe in twenty years, if some of them catch-on (for some reason), SOME of them will become collectible. But most of them will remain cheap junk. And they are certainly not "collectible" now.

I will say it again: People resist change--in part because the new and different is frightening. Give this system a chance to work. If it doesn't work—if it makes more problems than it fixes—IT can be changed, down the road. There is another truism at work here too. "The evil you know is more acceptable than the evil you don't know." In other words, although the present eBay system has many faults, people who make decisions and judgments based on fear will prefer the old system over any new unproven system—because that is human nature.

JDA.



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The Rest Of Turkey
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Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
08/13/2007, 06:34:29

When last we left off on my trip through Turkey, I had just shown the specimens I photographed at the museum in Ephesus. With Haluk Mutlu, I was on my way to the resort town of Bodrum in the south. But first, we stopped at the ancient ruins of Ephesus, so I could see and photograph these. Although I took lots of pictures, I will just show these two images to give you a feel for the place.

Jamey

952_Ephesus.jpg (45.4 KB)  953_Ephesus.jpg (41.5 KB)  


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Amber and Glass
Re: The Rest Of Turkey -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
08/13/2007, 07:42:13

These two groups of beads are amber and glass. When I viewed them, I made the leap of faith that the amber beads were carnelian..., though they are identified as "amber." The glass beads are fairly large, over 1/2 inch in diameter. Unfortunately, they are so corroded it's difficult to identify them, or to say much about them.

JDA.

1049_detail.jpg (54.8 KB)  1060_Bodrum.jpg (52.6 KB)  


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From Roma To Istanbul
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Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/24/2007, 04:11:17

Maggie and I returned to Rome for the better part of two days. She then collected the people who were taking her tour to Naples, Ravenna, and Venice, and I flew off to Istanbul. The real point of this trip was to be in Turkey for about ten days, promoting the International Bead and Beadwork Conference (IBBC) that will take place in Istanbul in November. The previous ten days in Italy were pretty much a perk.

I will spare you the obligatory photographs of the Colosseum and sights you have probably already seen. I will move on to Istanbul. However, did you know there's a pyramid in Rome?

Jamey

851_Roma.jpg (47.4 KB)  


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Amber
Re: From Roma To Istanbul -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/24/2007, 05:00:59

Although I might have spent a lot of time taking photos at the Bazaar, I only snapped a few. I noticed that amber is a popular material, and in fact, many stores had bead displays. Here are two shots of a window with amber and "amber" beads.

JDA.

889_Istanbul.jpg (82.8 KB)  890_Istanbul.jpg (68.2 KB)  


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Herculaneum
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Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/22/2007, 14:48:51

The same day that Maggie and I were at Torre del Greco, we drove over to the ancient site of Herculaneum—a town that was destroyed, like Pompei, in CE 79 by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Because of the volcanic ash that encompassed the area, the remains of buildings are surprisingly intact—including wall frescos and various kinds of mosaics. (See the link below for info about Herculaneum.)

Although there are no beads to speak of, I will post a short series of images from our viewing of the ruins. We're beginning with a view of the area, with Vesuvio in the background, followed by the facade you pass through to get inside the site.

Jamey

730_Vesuvio.jpg (37.9 KB)  732_Herculaneum.jpg (49.2 KB)  

Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herculaneum

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Back to the Museum
Re: Herculaneum -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/22/2007, 15:09:44

After several hours at Herculaneum, Maggie and I returned to the Archaeology Museum. I wanted to see their stature of "Artemis"—since this was a major goal for me; plus there was a lot of the Museum we hadn't seen the previous day.

We began by returning the the Amber show, where I took a few more photographs of objects I had overlooked earlier.

This is the first exhibit you see in the amber show. It is a large natural (but polished) nodule of amber with a some insects (probably ants) inside. The second photograph is not of an ancient piece, but one that is several 100 years old. These fantastic creations were composed from several types of amber, and sometimes other materials (such as ivory), and served different functions. They were liturgical pieces in churches, or high art in the homes of the wealthy. The amber has tended to become more reddish over time.

JDA.

737_napoli_amber.jpg (38.3 KB)  739_napoli_amber.jpg (49.6 KB)  


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A Cup and a Chalice
Re: Back to the Museum -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/22/2007, 15:11:54

740_napoli_amber.jpg (47.0 KB)  746_napoli_amber.jpg (44.7 KB)  


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Mary and Joseph with the Baby Jesus
Re: Back to the Museum -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/22/2007, 15:13:43

Religious scenes in amber are not so common, but here's a beautiful miniature carving.

744_napoli_amber.jpg (61.8 KB)  


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Some Days In Napoli
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Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/17/2007, 03:17:34

Continuing from May 9th.

Maggie and I made our way up the Italian boot, headed to Naples, but stopping the first evening at Locanda di Alia where there is a nice resort hotel. In Naples, we stayed at a hostel for travelers/students, that is up four flights of marble stairs (with LOTS of heavy luggage in tow). We settled in, and walked around for a while. By the way, Naples is much more beautiful and fun than most of us might be given to believe—and the Neapolitan people are pleasant and generous. And the food is great too. Our primary goals for Naples included a trip to the Archaeological Museum (where a magnificent Ancient Amber show is currently up), to visit Herculaneum (an ancient city site similar to Pompei, with amazing mosaics and frescos), and to visit the industry in Torre del Greko where traditional cameos are still carved, and coral beads made.

On out first full day in Naples, we went to the Archaeology museum, and spent the first part in the wing that holds the ancient Egyptian and Roman Period artifacts. Probably you all may not be much interested in seeing photos of statues, but I learned something I think is rather interesting, and for all I know affects all of the antiquities held in this institution. In Rome, I was pretty disappointed by the statuary. (I have already said they didn't have many beads nor much jewelry.) The statues in Naples, in contrast, are quite wonderful—to my surprise. Rome has a lot of bad copies of Greek statues. Naples has the better copies as well as real Greek statues. I learned that this is because way back when antiquities were not generally popular, a gentleman was placed in-charge of them, and given free range to place ancient things where he liked. As a Neapolitan, he put many of the best pieces in Naples, and rather less good pieces elsewhere. Thus when Aldo, Maggie's friend and our guide, explained this, the situation of statuary in Rome suddenly made sense—and I agreed this was my experience.

I do want to begin by showing this bust of a Roman Emperor, that I rather liked a lot. The marble head has been seated in a base carved from what looks like variegated agate in tones of brown. The agate (or whatever it is) is carved to look like the Emperor's toga. It's a brilliant piece. (A similar female statue is close by, that is probably his wife.) Below is a view of this bust, with a close-up of the toga below. The brown stone has crenelated rows and lines in darker and lighter brown hues—and looks for all the world just like agate. But generally, brown agate has been artificially colored, at least since ca. 600 BCE. So, I was intrigued by this artifact, and wish I knew more. (I will have to read the catalogue I bought.)

Jamey

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A Goddess
Re: Some Days In Napoli -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/17/2007, 04:02:28

I close this section with a beautiful statue of a Greek goddess with snakes on her bodice.

That day, from 5 pm to 7 pm (closing time), Maggie, Aldo, and I looked through the Amber exhibit. I will begin to show amber specimens tomorrow.

Cheers, Jamey

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THE AMBER SHOW
Re: Some Days In Napoli -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/18/2007, 13:45:18

The Archaeology Museum at Naples is sponsoring a H U G E exhibit of ancient amber. They produced a very nice catalogue too, but it is only in Italian. I don't know if the show will travel to other locations. The specimens are mainly Italian, dating from as early as ca. 500 BCE, through the Roman Period. There might be a few that are earlier, and there are some that are later—but for the most part the amber comes from this region, from old tombs or old families.

The show is not just amber, but also presents various other types of objects recovered along with the amber. Objects such as pottery, glasswares, and bronzes. Some of this is also jewelry. I will show the stuff that I think ois interesting, when I have a photo that is acceptable.

In ancient times, Baltic amber was a significant trade product, taken down to the Mediterranean civilizations and farther abroad for thousands of years. By Roman times, the Romans actually created expeditions that went up to the Baltic, and brought the amber back. These trade routes and trends have been well researched.

Although we usually think of amber as being yellow (yellow tones that range from white to brown), in as few as 100 years, amber can turn (or begin to turn) dark and often red or reddish. Thus, many of the pieces I'm going to show here are red amber. Having recently written "there is very little natural cherry amber"—to see this much red amber is going to seem like a contradiction. However: 1) most of this amber was yellow in antiquity; and 2) it isn't red-red like the fakes that are passed-off as "cherry amber."

I'm not going to describe these pieces in any detail. Think of this as a feast of the eyes. We begin with two bronze ornaments that are decorated with a few amber beads. These are a pectoral and two bracelets.

Jamey

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A Bronze Necklace - And Amber Beads
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/18/2007, 13:46:47

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3 Amber Necklaces - And 2 face Beads
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/18/2007, 13:48:19

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Bronze Beads and Ornaments
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/18/2007, 13:49:45

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A Necklace of Blue Glass Beads
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/18/2007, 13:50:48

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Amber Fibulae (Garment Pins)
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/18/2007, 13:52:28

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Red Amber Beads - And a Glass Bottle
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/18/2007, 13:54:39

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Two More Fibulae
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/18/2007, 13:55:45

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A Pair of Glass Leech Fibula Beads - Very Nice!
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/18/2007, 13:57:29

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An Amazing Pectoral
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/18/2007, 14:05:17

This is a remarkable piece. There were three of these constructions, all similar in format. However at least one was all amber, and one or both of the others are mixed glass and amber beads. The pectorals seem to have been attached to the chest via a fibula. (A very odd arrangement, I think.) From the fibula, the beads hang in vertical rows, held together by wide bronze spacing plates. I would guess that these pieces have been reconstructed, from whatever parts remain. Each one has been placed on a rendering that shows what they think would have been the missing parts. So that's why you see pictures of beads next to actual beads.

Remarkable! But not yet the best to come.

JDA.

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Pectoral Details
Re: An Amazing Pectoral -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/18/2007, 14:07:25

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The Amber Pectoral
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/20/2007, 08:03:40

This is the pectoral that includes only amber beads. The deatil was shown in the previous post.

JDA.

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Another Pectoral
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/20/2007, 08:07:11

This piece may be related to the previous, since it appears to have a bronze ornament and a variety of glass beads. This specimen has not been restrung, and the beads are very different. Most have stripes that have been tooled into waves or zigzags, and the occasional curlycue.

JDA.

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Six Faces - And a Lion
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/20/2007, 08:09:07

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Chunky Beads - And rings
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/20/2007, 08:10:23

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Two Strands of Plain Glass Beads
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/20/2007, 08:11:23

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More Amber Necklaces
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/20/2007, 08:12:39

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Amber That Has Remained Yellow
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/20/2007, 08:15:24

While a great deal of ancient amber tends to turn red or reddish, the occasional bead or groups of elements can remain yellow, or will have developed a yellow patina. The previous specimens and these illustrate this unusual phenomenon well.

JDA.

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Tired of AMBER Yet?
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/20/2007, 16:00:04

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Carved Beads - And Red Beads
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/20/2007, 16:03:43

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A Gold Necklace - A Bronze necklace
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/20/2007, 16:04:51

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Modified by Beadman at Fri, Jul 20, 2007, 16:05:02

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Bronze Spirals
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/20/2007, 16:06:05

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Egyptian Faience Head Piece
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/20/2007, 16:07:13

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Fabulous Greek Carvings
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/20/2007, 16:08:09

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How Amber and Bronze Ornaments Were Worn in Death
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/20/2007, 16:10:12

Two of three schematic figures, showing the placement of ornaments in situ.

JDA.

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An Amazing Crystal Bottle - And Emerald Beads
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/20/2007, 16:11:55

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A Necklace of Glass and Amber Beads
Re: THE AMBER SHOW -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/20/2007, 16:13:02

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Re: What a fantastic display
Re: Pectoral Details -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: judy Post Reply
07/18/2007, 18:00:37

Looking at those pictures is a real treat. The eye beads look like the ones that are found in Mali, what do you think? Thank you Jamey



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Similar Beads
Re: Re: What a fantastic display -- judy Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/19/2007, 03:35:38

Hi Judy,

I'm glad you wrote this, because it's a clear example of what has been happening repeatedly for twenty-four years now. When the eye beads from Mali came to California, there was a stir that these were "Roman beads." I urged caution, because—while I recognized a similarity—I felt the beads were not really identical. I said "if you saw the Roman Period eye beads in real life, along with the Mali beads, you could tell they are not the same." But as late as 1987, when Lois Dubin presented the world with The History of Beads, the misidentification of the Mali beads continued and then exploded.

The beads from Mali derive from the Islamic Period. And they are millefiori beads. The ancient beads shown here with amber have stratified eyes. They are earlier than the Mali beads, and may even predate the Roman Period. I will take a look at the exhibit catalogue, and see what they have to say about the pectorals. My expectation is that the glass beads are Mediterranean, dating from ca 600 to 400 BCE. In other words, Phoenician Period beads from Egypt or "Syria." If they are from later (say, the Roman Period), they are still not millefiori beads and not the same as the Mali beads.

Jamey



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Great images....
Re: Amber That Has Remained Yellow -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: will Post Reply
07/20/2007, 11:53:21

....and explanations - thank you, Jamey.

What's the date of those two amber face beads with the elaborate hair (right out of the 1960s)? And how large are they?

One of the many things that impressed me is how well the pectorals are displayed, with the ghost images of the beads that are no longer there to give us a sense of what the whole effect must have been. If only other museums would learn from this.

Will



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Re: Amber Face Pendants
Re: Great images.... -- will Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/20/2007, 14:42:43

Hi Will,

The Catalogue identifies these as recovered in 1957, and believed to date to the 5th C. CE. They are 4.5 and 4.8 cm long. The "hair" looks more like a head wrap in the catalogue. These pieces are described as being tutuli (singular "tutulus"), which apparently indicates a belt ornament worn by a woman.

You say "'60s-like." My first impression was "Deco-like." They remind me, somehow, of the hood ornaments of classic cars from the '30s. Very cool pieces, whatever they are.

And yes, it's true, the whole exhibit is beautifully laid out. My one complaint, as a photographer, was that many specimens are placed in a dark box with a light shining up through them. This is very beautiful in real life..., but makes available-light photography quite hit-or-miss.

More to come....

Jamey



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Re: Six Faces - And a Lion
Re: Six Faces - And a Lion -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Snap Post Reply
07/20/2007, 10:16:57

Jamey,

Really remarkable, both the exhibit and your generous contribution of photos.

Do you know if the faces were molded or otherwise hot-worked, rather than strictly carved?



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Carved!
Re: Re: Six Faces - And a Lion -- Snap Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/20/2007, 15:02:03

Hi Snap,

It is not really practical to try to mold amber—so we can be reasonably certain the faces are carved.

One of the things that distinguishes amber from other natural resins is its high melting point and volatility. If you melt amber, it does not turn into a liquid (like any recent resin would do). Instead, at best, it becomes a hot gummy sticky material. Then, the temperature to get it to this state must be carefully modulated. A few degrees too low and the amber is still stiff. A few degrees too high, and it catches fire.

This is how we can be reasonably certain that in earlier times, people did not melt amber to make "pressed amber" or "ambroid," prior to the sophisticated development of the Germans in 1881. 19th century technology, relying on thermometers, heating chambers, and hydraulic presses, were able to do this work. Suggestions that 'anyone' could have pressed amber—be these folks in antiquity, or modern but mechanically unsophisticated folks—is presumptuous. But it's a mistake that has been made many times. It's all predicated on the lack of understanding that amber doesn't melt.

Even when pressed amber is made in the present time, the gooey melted mess is quickly centrifuged and pushed into a mold (making rods, plates, or blocks), and is then cooled. Once it's cool and firm, the ambroid is cut and carved into ornaments. Consequently, when we see a bead or artifact of "amber" that has casting or mold marks, we know it's not real amber, and not even real pressed amber. The places that make real pressed amber are: Germany, Poland, and Russia.

I appreciate your kind remarks!

Jamey



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Delicate Beads
Re: Some Days In Napoli -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/20/2007, 16:01:20

Small articulated constructions.

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Modified by Beadman at Fri, Jul 20, 2007, 16:01:41

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That's All folks!
Re: Delicate Beads -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/20/2007, 16:15:15

With this short strand of amber pendants and beads, we come to the end of the Amber Exhibit.

In a separate post, I will begin to discuss the rest of my trip to Italy and Turkey, later.

Jamey

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Re: Red Amber Beads - And a Glass Bottle, translucent?
Re: Red Amber Beads - And a Glass Bottle -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: adjichristine Post Reply
07/21/2007, 01:17:27

Jamey, I'm so surprized to see this red translucent Amber because it looks so much like the Cherry Amber that I have!



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Re: Red Amber Beads
Re: Re: Red Amber Beads - And a Glass Bottle, translucent? -- adjichristine Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/21/2007, 09:11:35

Hi Christine,

I have made a special point to show all of the amber specimens that are the most-red--because i think it is significant that people see them.

Nevertheless, if you were to see these things in real life, you would notice that the hue of these pieces is different from the typical fakes that abound in the bead marketplace. Their colors are a more tawny-red, and there is some variation in saturation and tone (and sometimes translucency and inclusions). The tone of fakes is generally strident and uniform. However, we can't expect that to always be true.

The specimens that are shown in this exhibit are very RARE pieces. They have largely been archaeologically recovered, and are often 1,000 years old or older. Their surfaces are crackled and organic-looking. These details may not always be evident from photographs.

Please let me assure you—in real life you would be able to visually distinguish between these authentic antiquities, and the plastic imitations that mostly postdate 1926.

Be well. Jamey



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My Sojourn to Italy and Turkey
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Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/16/2007, 03:38:27

As many of you know, I made a three-week trip to Italy and Turkey, returning about six weeks ago. While I was over there, with my digital camera, I took over 1100 photographs. Since my return, I have been editing and editing.... Lots of great stuff. Some shots I'm sorry didn't turn out better. Some things tossed, and some things missed. Lots of beads, but also many other wonders and sights. Last night, I finished the first editing process—which is turning the raw images into Photoshop files. I am ready to show some of this stuff. I hope you will indulge me, when (especially at the beginning) it is not all beads.

How and why did this trip come about? It was due to the meeting of two interests and friends. I'm the Co-Coordinator of the Academic Seminar (with Valerie Hector) for the International Bead and Beadwork Conference (IBBC), that will take place in Istanbul in November. And, I also lead a bead tour to the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show every February. This year, the Director of the IBBC, Asli Mutlu, wanted to come on the Tucson tour with me. And, another participant is Maggie Meister, who is one of our "mother hens" for that tour (meaning she is an indispensable great help for all sorts of things). But Maggie is also the Beadventures tour leader for all of the trips to Italy—and she is a very talented beadworker and teacher. She will be teaching in Istanbul.

Anyway, back in February, Maggie and I figured out that I would be headed to Turkey at just the time she was leading a tour to Naples, Ravenna, and Venice. And, that she had plans to arrive in Italy early to scout-out a future tour to Sicily. We decided it would be great fun to meet in Rome, fly to Sicily, then drive around the island, onto the toe-of-the-boot that is mainland Italy, drive up the coast to Naples, spend some quality days there, and return to Rome—where she would begin her tour, and I would depart for Turkey. So that's what happened.

I arrived in Rome and spent a day and a 1/2 there with a friend, bopping around the city, visiting lots of churches, ancient buildings, and all the usual sights. Unfortunately, do to a battery mishap, I didn't get very many photos. But I did visit the Archaeology Museum, and viewed their collection of ancient jewelry—which was nice but not spectacular. I bought the catalogue, so I have images of what I saw.

The next morning, I took a cab back to Da Vinci Airport, met Maggie right away, and we commenced with our journey together. It was LOTS of fun—more than I could imagine. And I found Maggie was easy to travel with, and that we were interested in many of the same things, and even have background experiences in common—like being involved in community theater thirty years ago. (She on the East Coast; I in California.)

Once we arrived in Palermo, we went to our hotel, settled in, and then took a walk around the town. (I will spare you the photos, even though the landscapes are beautiful.) We had a nice dinner, breakfast the next morning, rented a car, and headed off to Monreale to the south and west, where there is an important cathedral, famous for its mosaic art.

Maggie and I are both interested in ancient mosaic work—so I was delighted for the opportunity to see all of the places we visited, beginning here. The front of the church can be seen in the first image below, followed by a view of the central garden of the old cloisters. Notice the surrounding covered walkway, that is supported by pillars. Every one of these pillars is decorated with mosaics in geometrical patterns. The elements are essentially glass and gold-glass. I'll show a few examples of this art next.

Jamey

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Taormina
Re: My Sojourn to Italy and Turkey -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/16/2007, 04:53:58

From Armerina, we traveled east to the coast, and then north, winding up in Taormina, where we spent the night. This is a beautiful resort town, situated near a gorgeous bay, that I will show. During our day there, we walked around the shopping area, where we found lots of stores selling a variety of products. Many are geared toward tourists, but most of the stuff was of a high quality, and often expensive. There were businesses specializing in antiques, and then there were modern jewelers and designers.

My first photos were taken at a store that had some nice amber and coral beads in their window. I was attracted to the amber, because Sicily used to be one of the important non-Baltic sources of amber in antiquity, and up until the late 19th century. Nevertheless, it seems very few people know about this anymore.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear from the storeowner that she had these amber pieces because they were visually similar to old-time Sicilian amber. However, she was frank to say these particular pieces came from Chiapas, México (!).

Because Sicily is not far from Naples, the stores in Taormina often have great displays of coral jewelry. We often hear nowadays that most or all coral jewelry comes from China, and that the Neapolitan industry is almost belly-up. However, I saw very little dyed Chinese coral here; and most of it appeared to be decent or very good Mediterranean coral.

JDA.

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Welcome, Hermon of Yone Inc!!!
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Posted by: Joyce Post Reply
06/27/2007, 17:30:14

Welcome, Hermon, and thanks for registering. Hermon is the owner of Yone Inc., the oldest continually operating bead store in Northern California. Yone Inc. is located on Union near Grant in San Francisco's North Beach. It was an incredible discovery for me in the early 1980s.....much earlier for Jamey, who can tell us more about Yone....and, Hermon has been a serious bead collector for decades....



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Re: Welcome, Hermon of Yone Inc!!!
Re: Welcome, Hermon of Yone Inc!!! -- Joyce Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
06/28/2007, 04:55:37

Hi You all—and WELCOME Hermon!

I first encountered Yone Beads in 1970 when I moved to San Francisco. Yone was very much alive in those days, and tended to capture most of the attention to himself, but Hermon was usually present too. Yone was quite a character, of Asian descent and from Hawaii, and always wearing flamboyant necklaces that he made himself. He told me once that when he opened the store, the entire inventory was "Peking glass." (Nowadays we would say Chinese glass.) If you walk into the store today, you can still see long swag-like strands of huge Chinese glass beads here and there. The two most commanding artifacts remain the carousel horse in the window (strewn with beads, of course), and the huge French beadwork floral arrangement that used to be in a window, but is now hanging from the ceiling.

I think people tend to underestimate the inventory at Yone Beads. It's true there is a lot of new or modern stuff, including plastic, glass from India, wood and ceramic beads, and base metal. But you have to really look (and ask). The store is truly a treasure trove—and almost anything you can imagine might be found there (excepting only the most esoteric beads, like ancient zi beads from Tibet). Lots of ancient and ethnic beads, stones of all sorts, coral and amber, precious metals..., well it would be difficult to make a comprehensive list.

With Yone's passing some years ago, the store is now handled solely by Hermon, who has a serious and genuine interest in all beads. In recent years, I have been to the store, and while there took lots of photos. If I can search-out some of these I will post a few. Hermon has been very generous in allowing me to photo-document some of the wonderful pieces he owns. And in recent years I have been honored to be asked to string or restring some of these. In the past, I have shown some of this work here.

Over the past year or so, Hermon has been working with my friend Mark to build a web site, that will allow Yone Beads to sell online. They have made good progress—and now you can begin to see some of the great stuff he has to offer. More to come, of course. Hermon contemplated the idea of managing a forum where people could discuss beads, added to his site. I think I convinced him that the Forum here filled that purpose well, and I encouraged him to participate when he felt like it, and to arrange for reciprocal links.

So, good progress is being made all around.

See you in cyberspace. Jamey



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CHERRY AMBER, please define---------
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Posted by: adjichristine Post Reply
06/13/2007, 15:09:17

I always thought Cherry amber was old European plastic like African "amber"! I assumed that everyone knows that ! Some have advertised it as being Bakelite. Could someone please define Cherry Amber for me and does there exist Cherry amber that is real amber? Thank you very much!



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It's complicated. But it's understandable.
Re: CHERRY AMBER, please define--------- -- adjichristine Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
06/13/2007, 15:54:58

Hi Christine,

The name "cherry amber" is most often applied to phenolic plastic imitations that are translucent and red (or reddish). The material is NOT "Bakelite," though like Bakelite it is a phenolic plastic. (Bakelite is not translucent and colorful, and does not make pretty ornaments.)

You are correct that this is essentially the same material as was used for making fake (yellow, but also lots of colors) amber beads, such as are found throughout Africa and the Moslem/Muslim world. This plastic was developed in 1926, and was common by the early 1930s.

Regarding "red amber" in nature. Although most amber is yellow (ranging from pale to dark—that is, white to brown), two issues crop up in this context. As amber ages (oxidizes, essentially) it darkens in color. This darkening can take on a red or reddish tonality. The majority of ancient amber pieces that are recovered are dark in color, and OFTEN reddish. (I will show this in my photos from Italy some time soon.) The oxidation that is responsible for darkening the color of amber, in some instances, happened very long ago—so that this amber, when mined, is already red (or reddish). This quality of amber is more common from non-Baltic sources, such as from Burma, Sicily, México, and the Dominican Republic.

This red or reddish natural amber might sometimes be called "cherry amber," but it is generally NOT the strident artificial red of imitations. The color is most often so dark, we can only see the color in transmitted light. And the color we see, while pleasing, has a natural tonality, with variations in hue and saturation, swirling structure, and often enclosures that make dark spots. (Of course, these features can be imitated, but in most "cherry amber" they are not. It's just plastic.)

The name "cherry amber" should be discarded. Most of the stuff called this is fake; most natural red amber is NOT the colors of cherries; and the name itself causes an expectation that the material should look like the fakes and not like the actual amber.

I hope this helps. Jamey



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Re: It's complicated. But it's understandable.
Re: It's complicated. But it's understandable. -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: adjichristine Post Reply
06/13/2007, 16:04:46

Thank you very much, Jamey. I have sold two cherry amber necklaces on ebay only to have the buyers wish to return the beads because they are plastic! All the cherry amber I see sold on ebay is in fact, plastic. So, from now on, I will explain what cherry amber is when i offer it for sale on ebay. Its sure that I won't get any bids!



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You are welcome. It's sad that red plastic often commands higher prices than real amber.
Re: Re: It's complicated. But it's understandable. -- adjichristine Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
06/13/2007, 17:35:39



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Christine, this is what I offer
Re: CHERRY AMBER, please define--------- -- adjichristine Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply
06/15/2007, 13:02:39

Christine,

Great topic to bring up. I have had most of the beads pictured for 35 years and have often wondered what they actually were. About 6 years ago Jamey finally solved the mystery. (Thanks, Jamey)

This is a huge strand with several varieties and colors. At least one half of the beads on this strand have been hand shaped and carved into unusual shapes. A few of the beads are old carnelian beads. Beads range in diameter from 20mm to 50mm.

Back in the 1970s when I bought these I also bought incredibly large examples of this so called "African Amber", back then, they were called "Copal Amber". However, as Jamey taught me, they are actually phenolic resin.

I have had these reddish beads as well as the yellow ones as large as a tennis ball with incredible old patinas, heavily veined with old cracks and a fantastic array of colors. Many of the red beads had burn marks.

The folklore in the early 1970s was the burn marks were caused by putting these beads into fires because they retained heat. Hmmmm? I thought, time for an experiment. (Back then, I was very experimental)

I took a few of the yellow "African Amber" beads and boiled them in vegetable oil and they gradually turned red from the heat. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME......the smell is horrible and most likely toxic. Now, I don't know if they actually retain heat but they sure did stink up the kitchen.

Beads similar to those made in the 1930s and 1940s are being made again today in China. The difference is obvious to me.

Regards,

Carl


Carl

1_amber.jpg (110.6 KB)  


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Re: Fake African Amber
Re: Christine, this is what I offer -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
06/15/2007, 14:04:38

Hi Carl,

I guess you learned some of this from me about six years ago, but I have been teaching this stuff since 1976. (I don't want to encourage the perception that six years ago is when I learned it--you see. I have been advocating for a better understanding of the amber marketplace since the series of articles I wrote for The Bead Journal when I was twenty-four.)

I don't think boiling cast phenolic plastics in oil would be a toxic process. Unpleasant, yes. But as long as it's done in good ventilation, it's probably harmless. There is some tendency for breakage, however. Beads with internal flaws or cracks can break apart. So it's not always successful—and not every yellow phenolic bead turns red.

The Chinese began selling African fake amber beads in the 1980s, usually without saying the beads were from Africa—but definitely misrepresenting them as "amber." I am not surprised that they eventually began manufacturing their own versions—and I recall when I began to see them in the marketplace. However, I believe most of these beads are not phenolic plastic. The makers have just achieved a similar look for their fakes, but using other (more modern) plastics. Generally, these seem to be thermolabile, whereas phenolic plastics are thermosetting. The differences can be spotted visually, and demonstrated physically.

Jamey



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Identification of Fake Amber
Re: Re: Fake African Amber -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Barbara Post Reply
06/16/2007, 22:48:00

'Amber' suddenly appeared in quantities in gem markets in Manila and Bangkok last year. They sell by weight and it is expensive. I've never used it as it is definitely a case of caveat emptor in these markets, where vendors will tell you anything and everything.

So how do I know real amber from the plastic? Given the domination of Chinese goods in all SEAsian markets it seems very probable the 'amber' is from there.

You mentioned amber was 'thermolabile, whereas phenolic plastics are thermosetting', please would you be kind enough to explain what this means?



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Re: Identification of Fake Amber
Re: Identification of Fake Amber -- Barbara Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
06/17/2007, 03:03:56

Hi Barbara,

This information has been posted quite a few times. At my Yahoo Group for amber enthusiasts, there is a long document about testing amber, that is very useful. See the link below.

"Thermolabile" means the material softens when warmed and hardens when cooled.

"Thermosetting" means that once the material is set, it will no longer soften and become moldable.

Thermolabile plastics have been around since ca. 1869; while thermosets (like Bakelite) were invented in 1906. Of course, MANY "natural plastics" (amber, pitch, any resin, asphalt, etc) would be considered thermolabile too.

Jamey


Related link: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/amberisforever/

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Search Results
Re: Re: Identification of Fake Amber -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
06/17/2007, 17:37:44

Scroll down to the lower messages, and read a past dialogue on this topic.

JDA.


Related link: http://beadcollector.net/cgi-bin/anyboard.cgi?fvp=%2Fopenforum%2F&tK=amber+test&wT=1&yVz=yTz&aO=1&hIz=600&hJz=30&cmd=find&by=&xcfgfs=tK-wT-yVz-aO-hKz

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Re: Fake African Amber
Re: Re: Fake African Amber -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: andrwp Post Reply
06/20/2007, 02:04:45

Hi All.I found this a very interesting thread and wondered if anyone could shed some light on this bead/pendant.Purchased about 20 years ago in Portobello Road London as a plastic bead from a gipsies costume (for one english pound)but it holds static electricity to pick up paper and chips like amber as visible in one image.It is also hand cut but i know many plastics can be worked like this.Could it be Burmese Cherry Amber?

DSC03289.JPG (122.9 KB)  DSC03291.JPG (127.6 KB)  


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Rub it.
Re: Re: Fake African Amber -- andrwp Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
06/20/2007, 04:11:20

Hi Andrwp,

It is most likely plastic. Please read the messages above, and remember what I said about color. The majority of Burmese amber is not "red," but rather "reddish"—tending toward a murky orange-brown. Large pieces are rare, and it is often not really translucent, because of all the gunk in it.

Via rubbing, cast phenolic plastics take a negative static electric charge, and will thereby attract small light materials. Consequently, since 1906, this has been a non-valid test for "amber." However, if you rub the piece for about a minute, it will present the smell of carbolic acid—demonstrating that it is plastic. This is the same smell you would get from rubbing the Bakelite handle on a pan in your kitchen.

Practically all cast phenolic articles (in the jewelry arena) are hand-cut from a preformed stock (blocks, plates, rods, and tubes).

Take care. Jamey



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Greetings from Jamey in Sicily just in...
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Posted by: joyce Post Reply
05/07/2007, 00:05:55

He will be traveling on to Istanbul in about 10 days. He should be back in the states around the third week in May. Safe and happy travels, Jamey!



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From Roma
Re: Greetings from Jamey in Sicily just in... -- joyce Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
05/14/2007, 03:00:43

Hi you all,

Today is my last day in Italy. It has been really fantastic.

I have been to so many museums, sites, and churches--it would make your head spin. I've already taken over 700 photographs (and more to come).

In Naples, I viewed a terrific show of ancient amber beads and artifacts--and of course bought the huge catalogue. (My luggage is now so heavy.) We also spent an afternoon at Herucaneum (sort of likethe smaller Pompei). There are not many beads in the museums, but the occasional Phoenician eye beads, and the like, and some nice gold and stone combinations. I'm shooting statues and mosaics.

I spent one morning at the cameo factory in Torre del Grecco, watching a gentleman carve a cameo. That was pretty interesting.

Yesterday, I walked by the Collesum in Rome,and took the obligatory photo.

Tomorrow--off to Istanbul.

I wish I had time to read all the current messages. I miss you all.

Jamey



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Greenstone bead question
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Posted by: TASART Post Reply
04/23/2007, 17:41:21

I have some very pretty beads from the African trade, I don't know the material! Maybe Serpentine? Can anyone help with ID please?
Thank you, Thomas

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greenstones and Mali Wedding beads
Re: Greenstone bead question -- TASART Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: diplocase Post Reply
04/29/2007, 11:08:07

I'm working in the American Embassy in Mauritania right now. I have seen (and bought) beads very similar in appearance to these green stone beads--similar shapes, same range of green colors and degree of translucency--in both Mali and Mauritania. Jamey mentions China as a possible origin for beads like these. I can't rule that out, but specifically for the beads I bought in Mali and Mauritania, other origins seem more probable, given that until very recently there were not many Chinese beads circulating in Africa (a very few found in Great Zimbabwe ruins are the only ones I know of until the late 20th c.). For the ones I bought, perforation wear and general appearance of the beads I bought would tend to indicate a few score years of wear--although the stone is relatively soft so they may not be as old as they appear.

Change of subject:
There is a women's cooperative in Mauritania that is now making green stone beads similar to these beads, from all the stone materials Jamey mentions. They shape the beads individually, using a small portable grinder. They told me that "as young girls they used to make similar beads by rubbing the blanks on hard stone, but why bother when the grinder is so much faster?" (They are advised by a very smart foreign woman who helped them form a cooperative, but I think they are not really targeting the bead collector market. More the tourist market.)

I bought from this cooperative a set of 99 worry beads with separator beads exactly the shape of the pear-shaped multicolored Czech molded beads nicknamed "Mali wedding beads." What caught my eye was that they were working in a chocolate-and-white banded stone, and the result was visually very similar to the black and white striped Mali wedding bead.

Since the Czechs often manufactured and marketed glass imitations of some existing bead that was already popular in Africa (Czech "coral", Czech "lion teeth", etc.), this discovery has me wondering if pear-shape Mali wedding beads were modeled on some other bead already circulating in Africa? Perhaps an earlier version of these Mauritanian beads. If you go 'way back you could make a link with the "breast" beads found in neolithic sites, but I'm fishing for a connection that might have influenced the Czech bead designers in the early 20th century.

The flat triangle-shaped Czech molded beads often mixed in with the pear-shaped Mali wedding beads were modeled on similar stone beads, accoding to Collectible Beads. I bought a few of the Malian stone originals, said to date to the Ghana Empire period. The capital of the Ghana Empire was in south-eastern Mauritania and the empire included territory that is now Mauritanian and Malian. This might lend some credence to my (otherwise blue-sky) theory that the pear-shaped ones are also modeled on beads made in the western sahel.
Any ideas? diplocase

diplocase

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Re: Greenstone Beads and "Mali Wedding" beads
Re: greenstones and Mali Wedding beads -- diplocase Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
05/02/2007, 12:44:43

Dear DC,

I was first exposed to amazonite beads from Morocco and Mauritania in the mid-to-late 1970s. At that time, I was too poor to buy any—but I saw some great stuff. In particular, I knew a woman in San Francisco who had a HUGE quantity of them. For a few years she did lots of designs, combining these beads with Moroccan coral, amber, and silver.

In the 1980s, I managed to buy a strand that I still think is on par with any beads I have seen—being a good strong color (bright dark bluish-green, and tending to not be patchy or pale). So I'm pleased I have one group of these beads in my collection. I have shown them in the past (here or at NBS).

Over the years, I have seen a broad variety of "amazonite" beads from this region—including beads that are actually quartz or serpentine, and mistakenly called "amazonite." I have consistently corrected this mistake whenever I have seen it occur. The materials range from pale to dark, variegated or clear, patchy (mostly white or pale with blue/green spots), and of course, sometimes combinations of these different sorts in one strand. Also a variety of shapes and sizes. I like this stuff, and I have given it careful consideration.

In the late '80s or early '90s, a new and different brand of "ancient amazonite" beads appeared in the marketplace out of Mauritania. These were fairly crude green beads, ALWAYS marketed as "ancient." However, they have large straight perforations and generally look a bit mechanical—and have been available in big quantities. I was the first person (and almost the only one) to say these are fakes. That is, they are new beads, made to resemble and passed-off as "ancient beads." Again, I have discussed this online a number of times. I suspect this may be local material..., but who knows? I have seen some newly-mined Mauritanian amazonite about ten years ago—and it was bright blue, like colorful turquoise. At the Tucson show this year, I was shown some very beautiful new amazonite beads from Morocco, that are the more traditional color, being bluish green and darker, but still new and colorful looking.

Until quite recently, I do not recall ever seeing any "Mauritanian amazonite" beads that appeared to be brightly colored translucent material that looks like chrysoprase. I can't say there weren't any. But I hadn't seen them.

Over the past five years (+ or -), Chinese beads that are entirely foreign to Africa, have been sent to Africa, and then sold as "African beads." This was not an issue, or at least not much of an issue, before that time. But it IS an issue NOW. Along with this globalization of new beads, there is probably also the possibility of Africans acquiring rough material (as from China and anywhere in the world, but most likely passing through Chinese hands at some point), that they will then make into beads. Without a doubt, these are "African beads." But as newly-made beads they are certainly NOT "ancient beads." (In truth, no one knows how old ANY of the "Mauritanian" or "Moroccan amazonite" beads may be, even if they are old and called "prehistoric" or whatever.)

We recently had a parallel discussion of this issue, in relation to lapis lazuli and sodalite beads from Mauritania—these being nontraditional beadmaking materials in this region. Again, I suspect this is new foreign material, perhaps brought in from China, the Tucson Show, or who knows where...?

When I see a new bead from a market with which I am familiar, a bell goes off..., and I have to consider that it may be ENTIRELY new. That is, made new, and made from newly imported foreign material. That is the basis of my previous point.

Regarding the so-called "Mali wedding beads" that are new reproductions from the Czech Republic (for the most part)— I wish I had time to discuss this in some detail. But I am trying to leave the country tomorrow.

I think it may be a mistake to think of Czech products as made for such a small audience of receivers. They make products and market them wherever they can sell them. It just happens that the "light-bulb" and flat triangular pendants took-off in the Sub-Saharan area of West Africa. To some degree, these glass items copy German agate items, that are also popular there. And the German stuff copies earlier things from India. But that doesn't mean the Czechs "made these things for Mali."

I think the prototypes for the light-bulb pendants may be the separating beads made (in other materials) for Muslim prayer strands. These have a history that may be around a thousand years old. I know of similar shapes (also for Muslim prayer strands) made from phenolic plastic too. Although they are intended to be used in pairs, dividing plain beads into three sections (for the traditional Muslim rosary), I have seen whole strands or necklaces of these pendant beads.

Anyway, I hope this is food for thought. Back to packing.

Jamey



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Peking Glass Beads
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Posted by: Lyn Post Reply
04/06/2007, 23:55:54

Greetings to all. This is my first time posting here, but I have been a happy lurker for a long time learning from all of you. I would greatly appreciate comments from anyone re the following statement that was made to me: 'Yes, Peking glass was made in China, but the green glass made in Czechoslovakia is correctly called Peking Glass, not because it is actually glass from Peking or the same process as Peking glass, but because it has been called that so consistently that it has become an accepted name for certain types of glass from Czechoslovakia. The Czechs call it Peking Glass.'

Does anyone here agree with this? Thanks in advance for your help! Kind regards, Lyn



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Re: "Peking Glass" Beads
Re: Peking Glass Beads -- Lyn Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
04/09/2007, 14:30:17

Hi Lyn,

I have collected Chinese glass beads since 1970. As I have remarked many times, San Francisco (where I lived from 1970 to 1986) was (and still is to some degree) a remarkable repository of Chinese goods.

One of the long-time bead collectors, who was a Founder (with me) of the Northern California Bead Society in 1977 was Mrs. Dorothy Gerrity, who was famous in Berkeley as a bead stringer and collector. Mrs. Gerrity passed away at close to the age of 85 in 1985. She used to tell interesting stories of being a young girl, walking up and down Grant Avenue in San Francisco (our Chinatown), where she was well-known to many of the shop-keepers of that time. Considering how varied and interesting were Chinese beads as late as the '70s, when I began to collect them, I can imagine how amazing all this was fifty years earlier. (And, of course, in the meantime I have spent quite a few years studying them.)

In the early 1980s, Robert Liu (of The Bead Journal, and Ornament magazine), came and spoke to the NCBS on the topic of Chinese beads. He began by saying much what I have just said here—that the Bay Area was an amazing repository of Chinese beads and goods—going back to the gold-rush days, when there was a great influx of Chinese laborers, who worked on the railroad, searched for gold, ran laundries, and pursued lots of other occupations. Robert knew he didn't have to say a lot about the variety of Chinese beads—because, basically, we had them already.

What I most vividly recall is the admonition that we NOT call the beads in-question "Peking glass." He assured us that this was essentially a misnomer that perpetuated a misunderstanding (that the beads "were made at," or "came from Peking"—or Beijing, as we say now). I usually agree with Robert's ideas and messages, as he is as careful and well-considered as am I. So, I desisted from calling any such beads "Peking," and switched to what he recommended—which is "Chinese glass beads."

So, as I read through this thread, I tend to become a bit frustrated, that over twenty-five years later, people still say "Peking glass," as though this were a useful or informative name.

Since practically none (if any) of the beads in question were made at Peking (but rather were just sold from nearby), it really would be impossible to define what might constitute a "Peking glass" bead, in contrast to any other Chinese glass bead. Of course, I could show you the beads we were offered in the 1970s, that were called this, and that formed or instigated the criteria that I used (until my conversion).

However, the Big Picture of Chinese beads is much too complicated to be encompassed by a few generalizations. The original "Peking glass" beads were furnace wound, and made in colors that imitate desirable materials (crystal, rose quartz, carnelian, amber, jade, sapphire, amethyst, "plum jade," turquoise, etc). And—clearly—the beads were made in sizes and shapes that suggest their likely (intended) use in what are called "Mandarin Court strings" (though the vast majority of such beads were NOT so-used).

But Chinese glass beads are so much more variable than this (and from several regions of China), quite a few significant and interesting beads would be segregated from inclusion. This would naturally exclude all lampwork beads, or in fact ANY beads not made by furnace-winding (so, excluding blown, drawn, and molded specimens—to mention some primary types).

Lyn, what you were told seems to me to be a garbled message from someone who doesn't know much about beads, and knows even less well how to express that small knowledge.

Because Chinese glass beads have become popular over the past 100 years, we should not be surprised that other glass industries would make similar products. Added to that (lordy, I have said this SO MANY TIMES..., "if you've seen one wound bead—you've seen them all"), the technique LENDS itself to making products that will naturally resemble the products of other manufacturers who make beads in the same manner.

Over the past thirty-five years, I have documented beads that might be mistaken for Chinese glass beads from these origins: Europe, Japan, and Korea. The European beads include Czech and Venetian groups. The Czech groups were copied by the Japanese (because the Japanese LEARNED to make beads from Czech teachers).

I suspect THIS, is the origin of the garbled information you were told. Just as Chinese beadmakers made beads to resemble desirable materials (particularly jade), the industries that copied the Chinese ALSO made jade simulants that look similar to the Chinese beads (and from glasses of other jewel-like colors as well). I can tell the difference between a Chinese and non-Chinese glass beads most of the time. I have a harder time distinguishing between Czech and Japanese beads (for the obvious reason I just stated).

I do not believe there is a formal and sanctioned name that proclaims "Czech Peking glass." Someone heard a story, and formalized it in his/her head. This happens ALL THE TIME. We have seen it happen at this very Forum.

All for now.

Jamey



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stone beads
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Posted by: TurtleBear Post Reply
03/09/2007, 07:27:05

i recently got these from one of the African traders i deal with. he called them: "Mali old Amosinte stone beads". i asked him what the term, Amosinte means but he did not know, thought it might be a regional term. i did some searching and cannot find it but his spelling is not the greatest. any ideas?

thanks.

Carlene

stone_Malitubes.jpg (31.1 KB)  


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Re: At whom is he furious? I hope it is HIS source!
Re: At whom is he furious? I hope it is HIS source! -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: TurtleBear Post Reply
03/09/2007, 18:56:08

unfortunately he is furious at me. i told him when i got the beads and felt concerned about them i asked some experts and he said my experts "...dose now anything about a lot beads, because he say about one of beads is new than few day later were find is old beads."

hey Jamey, do you live in CA? maybe you could go talk to him ;o)

and he is furious because he sees his future as a bead seller going down the tubes and what will he do to make a living?

Carlene



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Unfortunately, I have heard all this before.
Re: Re: At whom is he furious? I hope it is HIS source! -- TurtleBear Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
03/09/2007, 19:06:53

Hi Carlene,

I have been through the issues of speaking to African bead sellers to help them understand what may be happening. Usually, I am raked and told I "don't know anything about beads" (this in spite of having demonstrated my familiarity with the rest of their merchandise).

Way back in 1976, I tried to civilly tell an African that all of his "amber" beads were really plastic. In fact it happened a few times. But it doesn't take very many times to realize that a closed mind is not open to new information. Of course, the exact same thing has happened many times with many other folks as well. These days, I try to advise people who want help. The rest I leave to themselves, or to someone they can believe who may be informed.

What your friend is going to do to continue to make a living is to learn about the bead market, and make better choices. It can be a hard-won battle, sometimes.

Jamey



Modified by Beadman at Fri, Mar 09, 2007, 19:07:19

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Would appreciate thoughts--Venetian imitation of what?
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Posted by: Snap Post Reply
02/21/2007, 15:13:00

I have no provenance on this. Does apparent taper in peforation indicate Venetian origin? Having the bad crack allows a look into the glass body.

Millimeter scale indicates size.

All comments appreciated.

Snap

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Thanks! That is very interesting news.
Re: Re: So you are saying this is local material (apparently sodalite) ? -- gabriel Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
02/23/2007, 02:21:52



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P. S. - New Amazonite Beads
Re: Thanks! That is very interesting news. -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
02/23/2007, 02:37:06

At Tucson, I was shown some beautiful strands of new amazonite beads, purchased in Morocco. Has anyone seen these yet? Their color is remarkably bright teal blue (and a somewhat darker tone in some strands). The beads are large and chunky, not precisely cut—but handsome—and in shapes that remind me of the barrel and oblate shapes typical of African "amber."

I first saw these at the stall of Abdul Wais at Riverwalk. He was frank that they were new beads (which was apparent anyway). At The Gem Mall, I found a chap who had a group of these beads (and pendants), but was selling them for double the cost quoted by Abdul, with the story that they were "ancient." It would have cost $65 to buy a single pendant (for specimen purposes), though he offered it to me for $50. Still much too high.

I wish I had gotten a photo—but I assumed they would be around for a while.

JDA.



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Introduction and Necklace ID
Post Reply Edit View All Forum
Posted by: JohnChasnoff Post Reply
02/14/2007, 19:43:32

Hello. I am a annual visitor to Tucson and have been collecting beads for about eight years. I know I have met some of you informally at the shows there, but haven't been that much a part of the "bead world." I just discovered the site and am very excited about participating.

Here is my first question: In Tucson this year I bought this necklace from Bassem. It was part of the Jim Lankton collection. I'm under the impression that Beadman helped identify many if not all of those items, but this one was just marked "Early". Bassem thought it was from Syria. What else can anyone identify about it? I'd love to read any thoughts.

scan_7214214225_1.jpg (54.0 KB)  


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Re: Necklace ID
Re: Introduction and Necklace ID -- JohnChasnoff Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
02/15/2007, 03:27:10

Hi John,

Welcome to the Forum.

I can't say I recognize this necklace. (I handled it, but that doesn't mean I know—for sure—what it is.) I agree with Stefany that some of the white beads look like dentalia shells. The style—it having rows of beads held together with spacing beads, reminds me more than anything else of certain ancient constructions, often composed of amber or jet (perhaps other materials too), that were generally thought to be "Keltic." That is, from pre-Roman British (and Western European) antiquity. Of course it is a style that persists to this day..., so who knows. I don't remember that the dark beads are jet, though some might be. As I recall, the material is more brown and feebly translucnet.

You might ask Jim what he remembers about it. Write to me and I'll give you his eddress.

Jamey



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Last weekends Tucson purchases.
Post Reply Edit View All Forum
Posted by: Finfan Post Reply
02/10/2007, 14:03:59

As promised I'm going to post my most recent acqusitions. The first one is a strand of Nigerian brass and I think at least one Aluminum bead. The tubes range from 30 to 40 mm in length and are about 13 mm in diameter. The orange beads are about 15 mm in diameter and appear to be glass.

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No I didn't, what are they then?
Re: You know they are not really copal; yes? -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Finfan Post Reply
02/10/2007, 14:35:31



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Formula
Re: No I didn't, what are they then? -- Finfan Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
02/10/2007, 16:40:50

Hi George,

Although there are lots of amber beads around, and some copal beads, a great percentage of the time (particularly among African beads) what is called "amber" or "copal," is really plastic. The best imitations of amber are composed of phenolic plastic (related to Bakelite, and harder than actual amber).

You can demonstrate this for yourself.

Into a glass or jar, put eight ounces of tap water (one cup) and stir in three tablespoons of salt. This will make a brine in which amber (and copal) will float. Phenolic plastic beads will sink like rocks.

Since there are many different kinds of plastics used to imitate amber, I can't judge what your beads are, but I can tell they are not copal, and are most likely not amber. Since the majority of imitations, and therefore the most common and readily available "amber" beads, are phenolic, it is safe to guess that this is what you have.

Make the brine from the above formula, drop in a bead or two—and then tell us what happens.

Jamey



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They sank. =(
Re: Formula -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Finfan Post Reply
02/11/2007, 10:49:45

Your formula amounts to a saturated salt solution. Due to my lack of bead stringing skills I kept the strand together and made a large bowl of the brine. The beads did indeed sink. I am somewhat surprised since some of the beads seemed to have inclusions and streaks of impurities. I am also surprised since I bought them from one of the most reputable dealers. Oh well, live and learn.



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That's what I expected.
Re: They sank. =( -- Finfan Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
02/11/2007, 14:18:35

Hi George,

It is always disheartening the first time this happens. I am sorry for your disappointment.

I wrote the article that conclusively demonstrated that a large percentage of "amber" beads from Africa (and many places, in fact) is really plastic, in 1976.

I've spent the intervening thirty years continuing to promote this factual information. Nevertheless, the misrepresentation of plastic as "amber" or "copal" is rampant in all parts of the bead community and world. Africans, who are closest to these beads, and have a—let's say—"cultural investment" in believing these beads are real amber, have been some of the least likely folks to understand and accept the truth. And who can blame them? They have been told these fakes were amber ever since the time this (phenolic) material was introduced to them (probably beginning in 1927). It is gratifying when the occasional bead seller comes to realize the true situation, and to desist from misrepresenting these beads. But it does not happen often.

Then, some bead sellers are likely to take the attitude that 'everyone knows it's not really amber, and this is just a name we use'—but that can be a counterproductive stance too, because "everyone" does not know this. As I have mentioned in the past, that these beads are "culturally amber" is a pragmatic fact. They have a certain value, and (usually or often) are actually old beads, that are/were worn by people as part of their jewelry. However, when new plastic beads come into the picture and THEY become misrepresented (as both "old" beads and "amber"), what are we going to do?

Right now, the Chinese are cranking-out plastic-amber beads like you cannot believe (based on the African styles of yesteryear). Chinese fakes are already routinely sold as "antique Tibetan amber." Is this happening in Africa too? I'll bet it is.

Be well. Jamey



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Re: That's what I expected.
Re: That's what I expected. -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: red Post Reply
02/11/2007, 17:07:58

I am aware of the fake 'Amber' beads being produced at this time in large quantities in Marrakech and also in the Tarroudant regions of Morocco. (Some examples 'better looking!' and with better finish than others, but all blatantly new.

Do you have an image of the Chinese production Amber?
As yet I am not aware of there being Chinese 'Amber' available alongside it, but will keep my eyes peeled and let you know .............
Warm wishes
Sarah



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Hi Sarah. What does the new Moroccan amber look like?
Re: Re: That's what I expected. -- red Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
02/12/2007, 01:34:15



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Re: Chinese immitation Coral & Turquoise
Re: Chinese immitation Coral & Turquoise -- Garuda Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: red Post Reply
02/12/2007, 06:53:12

Hi,
Thanks for the reference shots.
I havent come accross these yet in Morocco, In fact the only chinese beads I have seen so far are the seed beads. These are selling for around £1.80 per 500g bag( Depends size / colour). I have sent a handful of the small chinese chevrons (drilled) as a gift to a jewellery maker from the south, and asked him if they are available to him as yet, I shall let you know!

There are plenty of Indian glass, some quite well made , others terrible! these are sold for around £5 per 1 kilo box for the best quality omes, £2 per 1 kilo box for the really nasty ones!

I have added a picture of some beads which are sold as Saharan Amber These were sourced In Marrakech.

amber004.jpg (57.4 KB)  


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Well known among Berber folks.
Re: Re: Chinese immitation Coral & Turquoise -- red Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
02/12/2007, 07:34:47

I have photos of girls wearing these from over twenty years ago. In my 1976 article, I called these the "dubious yellow beads." Thay are made from thermolabile plastic, and are not really decent imitations of amber.

Jamey



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Re: I haven't seen these yet. Where's the perforation?
Re: I haven't seen these yet. Where's the perforation? -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Garuda Post Reply
02/12/2007, 08:48:17

Hello Jamey,

The amber imitation pieces have yet to be drilled. Which I thought was strange when I handled them. They are plastic and have been darkened to give a look of age. They don't look very convincing to me but I like them anyway. I have seen these 'darkened' pieces available in Nepal for at least 5 years. They are more in keeping with the large amber pieces Tibetans use in a headress or hair adornment.

I am not an expert on the materials used in these beads. However, some of them are the usual dyed bamboo coral. There are also plastic pieces and beads made from other hard materials that give an 'almost authentic' appearance. However, the colour and feel is never quite right in my opinion. If you know the real stuff from the fakes it is still easy to tell the difference.

Some of the turquoise pieces can also be convincing. They seem to have got better in the last couple of years. The best are said to be made from 'turquoise powder'. Whether this is true I do not know but this is what most traders rattle off when you ask them. I'm inclined to believe that other materials are being used. I have broken a few of these beads (with difficulty) to know that the colour doesn't always carry deep into the bead. Although imitation turquoise beads usually have a striking colour they still fall short of looking natural to me. Some beads even come in a 'free form' shape with black matrix to give the appearance of a genuine stone.

There seem to be many more Chinese beads flooding the markets in the Tibetan settlements these days. They are very cheap and Tibetans seem not to mind. In fact I'm sure they are delighted to have affordable beads. It seems that most of the beads worn out and about by Tibetans these days are modern Chinese or Taiwanese replicas. I think this will make it very difficult for newcomers to tell the difference between old and new in the years to come.

All the best,

James

tibetanamber.jpg (21.9 KB)  


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Fake Turquoise - and a Coral Question
Re: Re: I haven't seen these yet. Where's the perforation? -- Garuda Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
02/12/2007, 16:03:47

Hi James,

Thanks for your reply. I have been pursuing the fake-turquoise question for about a year now—and I believe I reached critical mass at Tucson this year. I am now preparing a short article for the newsletter of The Bead Museum, where I will divulge my findings.

I can only say that I am grateful I was able to see real Tibetan artifacts twenty to thirty years ago, to have a fairly firm view of their ornamentation. (Books help too, of course.) New fake Tibetan amber has been circulating for over fifteen years now. I haven't been as diligent in acquiring specimens, as I might—partly because I refuse to buy anything from the dealer who sells the most, and sells to many other sellers. (You know who I mean.) But I have witnessed it happening, and I have the beads I have. And I have some very nice authentic Tibetan amber beads too. The contrast is the sublime to the ridiculous.

Here's a question for you. A friend of mine went to Tibet recently. She claims that everywhere she went, she saw no real coral beads—but only "glass imitations." I responded that they must have been new dyed coral, and not glass—and I can't think of much in the way of glass imitations (apart from the pseudo-sherpa beads from India) that would be there in big quantities. So I think my friend has mistaken dyed coral for glass (especially since she "didn't see any dyed coral"). Do you know of scads of new glass beads imitating coral, in Tibet, now?

Jamey



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introduce myself
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Posted by: beadfriend Post Reply
02/08/2007, 10:42:57

Hello to all forum members,
my name is Sönke Andresen i´m living in Germany. After more than 2 years of using the forum only as a visitor, it´s time to introduce myself to the very helpful und interesting forum. I am 40 years old and my last visit in school and english lessons are nearly forgotten.
I hope you will forgive my mistakes and you understand what i like to say / write. Feel free to aks if there are some questions, for me it is easyer to translate into german than write in english.

Since more than 10 years I am a member of a club of friends of the american history. My speciall interests are the american fur trade and the living of the mountain man. At the same time i get my first contact with trade beads and from this time i´m a collector!!!

...look at my first photos, you will see me, my friends an my home.
I´m looking forward to show some of my beads and ask some questions!!

Have a good time an some speciall greatings to my friend Uwe!!

Sönke

me2.JPG ( bytes)  my_home1.JPG (180.8 KB)  friends2.JPG ( bytes)  


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Welcome Sönke!
Re: introduce myself -- beadfriend Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
02/08/2007, 12:30:13

My Friend Emma Maria Kuster (a German amber seller) used to buy American Indian beads to take back to Germany—and she was somewhat involved in the German hobbyist movement that is related to the Rendezvous movement here. So I have seen photographs of a German event.

Anyway, welcome to the Forum. We will look forward to seeing your beads.

Jamey



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Jade and Gold
Post Reply Edit View All Forum
Posted by: will Post Reply
12/13/2006, 14:30:04

Thinking about all those lovely Pyu beads made me dig out this humble little one, which is both jade and gold. It comes from a late-bronze-, early-iron-age site in northeast Thailand, Nakhon Ratchasima province. Other material from the site has been carbon dated to 500-200BC. It's a piece of "jade", 23mm long by 5 or 6mm thick, that has obviously been salvaged from something larger that broke - a bracelet probably. Then somebody drilled a hole in it to turn it into a bead or pendant and it split down the middle - disaster! So they repaired it with a gold plate on either side, and gold bolts. It gives a sense of how valued the jade stone was. (Though it may not actually be jade in our sense of the word. As Jamey has pointed out, what passed for jade - "hin yok" in Thai - in early Asian cultures, was often quartz or serpentine.)
To me it's a needed corrective to our own disposable culture, which repairs less and less.
Will
PS: sorry about the terrible pictures - bad camera and terrible photographer, I'm afraid!

NW75.1.jpg (25.3 KB)  NW75.2.jpg (23.2 KB)  


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Re: Repaired "amber" at African Bead Museum
Re: Re: Repaired "amber" at African Bead Museum -- Russ Nobbs Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: will Post Reply
12/18/2006, 10:42:31

Hi Russ,
Thank you. Lovely. It's very like those pictures that Joyce posted, isn't it? I checked out the Farafina website and saw more there, also in their giftshop listed as "antiques". I thought about buying some for this exhibit I'm organising, and then I started to think: "Are these genuinely old repaired articles, or are "repaired"items also being manufactured for ignorant enthusiasts (like me!)? Perhaps it's just my suspicious nature, which usually keeps the enthusiasm at least partially in check. I know nothing at all about African beads unfortunately, just a little about southeast Asia and Tibet, so I'd welcome any help.
Will



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That's a Good Question !
Re: Re: Repaired "amber" at African Bead Museum -- will Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/18/2006, 14:55:36

I wonder about these issues too.

Originally, when a repaired piece—such as a broken amber bead—was offered for sale, and the repair itself was charming (in any sense of that word), people—meaning collectors and dealers—would say "the repair is so nice, it does not detract from the piece, and does not lower its value." (Not everyone would agree.)

OK, so, you pay the same price for a broken piece as you do an intact piece, based on a presumption that it was "so dear to its owner that it could not be tossed out." (We read a LOT of stuff into the things we see, and are offered. Some of it may be true....)

But now? Now we are going to be told that a repaired item is actually worth MORE than an intact item? Who made-up that rule?

Jamey



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Re: Good Question: cachet of repair
Re: That's a Good Question ! -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Jadeterrace Post Reply
12/18/2006, 19:03:43

In some cultures a repair only bespeaks the history of an item, part of which can be what Jamey described as "so dear to its owner that it could not be tossed out."

Perhaps this seems inexplicable concerning beads, when presumed to be plentiful and disposable. However as we have seen with dZi beads, some items have more mystique about them than their true history of manufacture and origins would suggest.

The matter of dZi beads may be an example of how owners, when remote from the place of manufacture, may be unaware of how they were made and invest objects with symbolic, mythological or spiritual features.

For those who have hundreds or thousands of beads, it may not be apparent that certain types may be prized for specific historic or cultural reasons--or simply because one may have been a gift from a person with cultural or family power.

In Japan a mysterious lot of social and spiritual values are invested in certain ceramics and other objects associated with rather esoteric elements of culture and history. An object such as a 17th-century dish may accumulate a cachet of being a 'masterpiece' up to the time of the connoisseurship of the 1960s, until archaeological and other discoveries disclosed that what was rare in Japan was a lot more common elsewhere because it was mass-produced for export beginning in the 1660s. There are still some who hold to the old 'connoisseurship', which has become almost a social institution in itself.

I exhibit here the mouth of a 14th-century Chinese black-glazed bottle which was repaired with gold lacquer in Japan. Gold lacquer was commonly used to repair old items, without pretense of concealing damage. Even more, such a repair bespoke an owner's opinion of the item and did add to its social value as in Jamey's phrase. Where 'face' has a large social role, many persons seek to accumulate elements of reputation similar to the concept of how karma may be increased. It may be necessary to know a lot more about an object's prior social context to understand how an obvious repair may figure in a perception of value unrelated to a specific market price.

Regards,
Jadeterrace

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A Point to Remember
Re: Re: Good Question: cachet of repair -- Jadeterrace Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/19/2006, 05:00:33

Hi Judy,

It is worth remembering that the traditional view of zi beads, among Tibetans, has been that a broken bead is virtually worthless, and should be discarded. It's "mana"—to use a foreign word—is negated by the action of its having broken. Tibetans believe (or used to believe) that when a zi bead breaks it is because the bead has just protected the wearer from some catastrophe. Like, it sacrificed its own existence for the owner. And then it becomes worthless.

Of course, in today's world this belief will be supressed—and broken beads will be repaired and said to be "as good as new," for the sake of a profit. But that's not the original attitude about zi beads. It may be that someone will come along and claim the same thing as for repaired amber beads. 'It meant so much to its owner that it was repaired and cherished." And the new owner will pay a lot for what the previous owners considered to have no value.

It's just a broken bead.

Jamey



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response to: Jamey + Amber + Amber-Imitations
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Posted by: Vara Nares Post Reply
12/18/2006, 17:11:22

quote Jamey: " Most modern imitations of amber are made from thermosetting phenolic plastic that was developed in 1926 (in the US). Beads of this material, from any context, must postdate this year. The thermolabile or thermoplastic beads are harder to date, because this TYPE of material is older. However, most of the beads we see are most likely 20th C. products.
I would estimate that thermosetting (phenolic) plastic imitations outnumber thermoplastic imitations by at least three or four to one. That is conservatively speaking. The phenolic percentage may be (or may have been) even higher.

Nevertheless, I am writing about the beads I have documented since 1972, that were presumed to be (and most likely were) "older" plastic imitations of amber from Africa. In recent years (in the past ten years particularly), amber fakes have been coming out of China, that clearly were intended to copy older African fakes—and many of these are thermoplastics. So the statistics are now different from what they were in the recent past. I can't estimate how much new Chinese plastic has been taken to Africa, and insinuated into the beads of local people. It may be a considerable quantity." end-quote

================================================

Hello Jamey,

if you agree that "thermosetting phenolic plastic" is what I call "Phenolic Resin", I have to disagree - just for the record - with the date, you´ve given in your post. According to my information this material has been invented only in 1928 (Catalin Corporation, USA), not 1926. Could you check on that?

There is no question about most plastic beads, sold to imitate real amber, are 20th century products in most cases.

France, but mostly Germany has been a very active producer of fake amber, starting big-time production as early as 1918/19, right after WW-1, exporting raw materials (rods in various lengths, widths, colors under varying "trade names - also big, kilo-heavy pieces in square and rectangular shape) as far as India, Russia and America, to name a few. Several big and many small factories, spread all over Germany, were not only permanentally experimenting with new materials, but also production technics and machinery for higher output and better-looking materials. Not only beads, many-many other items of daily use have been manufacured!

Reichskanzler Adolf Hitler himself signed a law in 1934, to protect natural amber (Succinit) against "amber-products" (Reichsgesetzblatt Nr. 48 vom 4. Mai 1934, S. 355). If this is of personal interest to you, I can send or post the complete text (5 rather short paragraphs).

Already since the middle of the 19th century "plastics" had been in strong competition to real amber (and other biogene materials, like ivory, horn, gagat and schildpatt). To such a degree this "plastics" were competing (Loebner, 1934), that Hitler finally issued the new law - to protect the German BERNSTEIN PRODUCERS - I was quoting above. Only natural amber and "pressed amber" were now allowed to be called "Bernstein", the German word for amber. Phenolic resins, artificial horns and all other materials resembling real amber, were no longer allowed to use the word "Bernstein" (amber) in the product description. The "Amber Manufactorer of Königsberg (Kaliningrad) was using a little red-golden sticker reading: "Echt Bernstein" (real amber) since 1934.

I assume the difference between natural amber (Succinit) and pressed amber (smaller pieces of Succinit pressed together, to get one bigger piece), and how to detect them, are no longer a secret in this forum, with you guiding and teaching readers for quite a while.

Instead I would like to quote from "Plonait" (1926) and "Fraquet" (1987) both of whom did a great job listing early and more recent materials used to function as amber imitations:

Early materials:
1) Cellulosenitrat -oldest plastic used in bigger amounts - Patent 1855
trade-names: "Parkensin", "Celluloid" (used as ivory, horn or
schildpatt)

2.) Acetyl Cellusose (or "security celluloid") - 1894 - Patent 1920
(USA)

3.) Casein plastics - 1890/1897 (?) - invented in Germany
trade name: "Galalith" (Gala=milk + lithos=stone in Greek) being a
very popular amber imitation, especially in Germany and
continental Europe in the 20´s

"Erinoid" in England

4.) Phenol-Formaldehyd-Resin
trade names: "Bakelite" - Patent: Leo Baekeland, USA - 1907

5.) Phenol(ic)-Resins - Catalin Corp. - 1928

6.) Urea-Formaldehyde - very popular for amber-imitats and beyond,
very health damaging - 1928

Recent materials:
1.) Polystyrene - ca. 1935

2.) Polymethylmethacrylat (PMMA)
trade names: Plexiglass, Perspex, Diakon - time ?

3.) Slocum imitation amber (Acrylic Resin) - Slocum Labs, Michigan -
time?

4.) Polyester - Berzilius AG, Germany - first attemps in
1847/production ca. 1940

5.) Bernat/Bernit (Polyester-Resin) - Wilhelm Co., Germany - time ?

6.) Epoxy Resin - Rozhdesterniskii (USSR) - 1957

7.) Natural Resins (Copal)

If you want to know more, especially about chemical details, but much more than only this, let me know!

I guess this is enough for now!

VARA!



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Re: Amber + Amber Imitations
Re: response to: Jamey + Amber + Amber-Imitations -- Vara Nares Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/19/2006, 03:11:12

Hello Jürgen,

I have studied all of this very carefully.

Here are some replies, in the order you discuss them:

In the past (well over twenty years ago) I also read that cast phenolic plastics were developed in 1928. However, in 1986, I met Catherine Yronwood—a local plastics collector who organized a group here in Sonoma County—who had pursued research at the NY Public Library on the history of this material. From the Professional Trade Journals of the Plastic Industry, she SHOWED ME her copies of the promotional materials that were produced by manufacturers (in NY), that publicized the release of this plastic in 1926. I don't think I have to look further than this.

In the early 1980s, I had an argument with a friend of mine, who said her grandmother had bought a strand of phenolic plastic beads (imitating "cherry amber") in 1926. At that time, I told her she probably had the date wrong, and that it couldn't be before 1928. I later had to EAT those words....

It is my strong impression that the fake amber sold in Africa has largely been German material SOLD through French middlemen. Though the French make or made plastics, I don't associate much of a Phenolic industry with that country. (Their imitations were mostly thermoplastics, used for imitating ivory--for instance.) Let's not confuse salesmen with manufacturers. The entry into Africa for this European plastic has mainly been through Morocco and Egypt, for most of the previous century.

The Patents for Celluloid date to 1868 and 1869 (a year apart in the US and England--where the material was called, respectively, "cellulose nitrate," and "nitro-cellulose." Your dates are much too early.

I am not familiar with the work of Plonait (1926). However, I have read Fraquet—and my opinion is that there are quite a few mistakes in this book.

I would have to disagree with you about "bernat/bernit."

Why the long monologue? My post was about a very simple and easy-to-answer question. I moderate a Group, to discuss these issues in detail. I don't see much need to do it here.

Jamey



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Views from the silver-silver/enamel-beads-pendants-carnelian-amber-jewelry-table
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Posted by: wantke uwe Post Reply
11/28/2006, 07:37:07

The glass beads came first and it took some years, before the silver/enamel jewelry from the Berber people of South-Morocco found my interest...Now I am hunting for nice pieces of that as well...Here are some views from the table...sorry for less quality of the pictures made with a flash light...

table4.jpg (83.8 KB)  table3.jpg (84.1 KB)  


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Re: amber from Uwe
Re: amber from Uwe -- anne bauer Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: red Post Reply
12/15/2006, 11:03:17

Hi Anne,
As promised, some pics of 'Ambers' from North Africa

I am no expert, but can offer the following info.
Copal ( Milked plant based resin is used to make) beads which are sold to tourists as amber. This is made in the Souss region in the South and I am sure in other areas too.
Resin beads are made in Marrakech and are generally referred to as Saharan Amber
There are cross drilled beads on offer in Morocco which are usually said to hail from other west African countries such as Mali and Mauritania.
There are also Saffron dyed horn beads which are offered in many Tourist areas as amber.

I give this information based only on the production of beads which I have seen and the selection of beads which been offered in Morocco within the past 5 years.
I know that there is much more to learn, and shall endeavour to expand my knowledge on each and every trip.

necklace333.jpg (23.7 KB)  copal46.jpg (68.8 KB)  amazighamberchevrons.jpg (24.6 KB)  


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Re: "Amber"
Re: Re: amber from Uwe -- red Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/15/2006, 16:40:32

Dear Red,

It is true that some authentic copal beads come out of West Africa—more so in the past five to ten years than at anytime since the early 20th century. However, since about 1972, tons of plastic beads have been coming abroad from West Africa (primarily Mali), that are CALLED "copal" (or "amber"), but are not that. This was one of the primary topics of my amber article from 1976—to tell the truth and teach people how to make realistic distinctions and identifications.

The beads you show here are plastic copies of amber (or "copal").

Jamey



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Re: amber from Uwe
Re: Re: amber from Uwe -- red Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: red Post Reply
12/15/2006, 11:15:10

These are in left to right order,

Saffron dyed horn beads from the Souss region

The others are widely sold as Saharan Amber, or as Amber Trade beads in Morocco. The quality and colour can vary hugely, I am not as yet aware of the age or origin of many of these beads.



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Re: The Origins of Fake Amber
Re: Re: amber from Uwe -- red Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/15/2006, 17:09:04

Hello Red,

Most modern imitations of amber are made from thermosetting phenolic plastic that was developed in 1926 (in the US). Beads of this material, from any context, must postdate this year. The thermolabile or thermoplastic beads are harder to date, because this TYPE of material is older. However, most of the beads we see are most likely 20th C. products.

I would estimate that thermosetting (phenolic) plastic imitations outnumber thermoplastic imitations by at least three or four to one. That is conservatively speaking. The phenolic percentage may be (or may have been) even higher.

Nevertheless, I am writing about the beads I have documented since 1972, that were presumed to be (and most likely were) "older" plastic imitations of amber from Africa. In recent years (in the past ten years particularly), amber fakes have been coming out of China, that clearly were intended to copy older African fakes—and many of these are thermoplastics. So the statistics are now different from what they were in the recent past. I can't estimate how much new Chinese plastic has been taken to Africa, and insinuated into the beads of local people. It may be a considerable quantity.

Jamey



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Re: The Origins of Fake Amber
Re: Re: The Origins of Fake Amber -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: red Post Reply
12/15/2006, 23:34:41

Hi Jamey,
Thank you for your valued information.
You have given me some insight into issues which have puzzled me for some time re buying in Morocco.

For example I am often offered the Saharan Amber beads, and told that these are old beads. Often i see very simular which are not given the same age description. This is not in itself unusual in Morocco! However, the age distinction has been made by some dealers who I would generally trust to be truthful, due to the verification of other info given re jewellery purchased. If the thermoplastic has been made for sometime, it would seem that the information could be valid.

I would be grateful if you could provide a link to any work you may have compiled on the subject.
thank you S



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Please feel free to join my Amber Group
Re: Re: The Origins of Fake Amber -- red Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/16/2006, 02:49:41

You will find a lot of useful information here.

Curiously, there is a general perception that the folks in Morocco "know their amber," and that their word can be trusted (and often it can, I'm sure). But, in my amber lecture, I show about six images that all purport to be "amber," bought or acquired in Morocco, and all of various fakes. I think this demonstrates that where amber is greatly admired—that may be where the most fakes can be found.

Jamey


Related link: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/amberisforever/

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1000 Rupees for this bead?
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Posted by: Russ Nobbs Post Reply
11/15/2006, 05:09:58

In the northern Indian Hill station of Mussoorie we were buying some interesting hot strip chevrons with big air gaps as a good illustration of how the Indian chevrons were made. They were perhaps seconds. They were much worse than any of the Indian glass bead vendors offer us.

In any event, the shop keeper showed me a 3 eye bead and asked if I thought it was old. I asked if I could take some pictures to show to friends.

It's obviously worn. The end view shows cord wear. I told him I thought it a recent copy bead from China but one that had been well worn for a few years. He was asking 1000 Rupees for it - about USD 22. I suggested it was more likely worth 100 or 200 Rupees but that some one might be willing to pay his asking price because it was worn.

We bought the rough made chevrons and passed on the copy dZi.

--Russ (Finally back in the US after 10 weeks in Asia looking for beads.)

Copy_dZi_004.jpg (72.3 KB)  Copy_dZi_010.jpg (51.6 KB)  Copy_dZi_008.jpg (77.0 KB)  


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This is a modern plastic bead, made in Lhasa, Tibet
Re: 1000 Rupees for this bead? -- Russ Nobbs Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
11/15/2006, 06:13:32



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Recognition
Re: This is a modern plastic bead, made in Lhasa, Tibet -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
11/15/2006, 15:34:41

Hi Russ and all,

I'm not really guessing. I RECOGNIZE this bead as being a typical example of plastic repro zi, as has been made at Tibet for quite a long time.

These were first brought to my attention in 1974 in the premiere issue of The Bead Journal, where Robert Liu did an article about them. (At that time I knew squat about zi beads, except that they existed and cost "$100 apiece.") So these have been made for well over thirty years (as I have remarked here before). Because of my interest in Tibetan culture, and all things beads, I began to pay attention to the issues of beadmaking and counterfeiting, to the technology of their manufacture, and to the industries that produced imitation beads (such as Czechoslovakia and Germany). I was in-part interested in plastic reproductions because of the significant research I was pursuing at that time, related to fake amber.

By 1985, during the International Bead Conference aboard the Queen Mary in Long Beach, the paper I gave for that conference was specifically about plastic imitations of zi beads--including a presentation of all the patterns I had documented, the fact that there were two primary types (that I called the "neat" ones and the "sloppy" ones), that some had metal cores inside to make them heavy--and I described how they were made and their likely time and place of manufacture.

I was mistaken about the latter, because I suggested these were European beads, made from acetate plastic. (At that time I could not imagine that anyone in Tibet or India was capable of making sophisticated 2-part inlaid plastic products. And in particular I wanted to dispel the MYTH that these beads were made "from old recycled 78 RPM plastic records"--the prevailing story that was circulated at that time.

A short time later, I was assured by several people (not all at once, of course), that there were two brothers in Tibet who made these beads. So I had to alter my perspective somewhat--as one always does when new information is gleaned that is seen to be reliable. Eventually, I was shown a series of plastic components that demonstrate the manufacturing process in a series of steps (just as I had suggested in 1985), that came from these two brothers in Tibet. Furthermore, over the years I noticed that every few years a NEW STYLE of these beads, in terms of size, shape, or design would appear on the market--indicating that this was an alive and ongoing industry. At one point, they even made zi bangles--as I show in my Arts of Asia article.

Of course, this doesn't mean that new plastic fakes are ONLY made by the brothers in Tibet. It's possible the Chinese now make them too. (Or something similar--and this, as everywhere in bead study NOW, has to be considered and looked for.) But I recall that in 1998, when I went to China, in Beijing there were bushel-baskets-full of plastic zi beads, that were misrepresented as being "ancient zi beads from Tibet." I, of course, bought a representative group of specimens.

So, when I say "I recognize this bead," I hope you will try to believe me.

Jamey



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Russian Amber
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Posted by: njstark Post Reply
10/22/2006, 18:07:21

Hello Everyone,

The only beads to be found in St Petersburg are amber, so amber I bought. After bringing it home my friends and I tried the burning needle test: you touch a hot needle to the bead and smell. If it smells nasty it is plastic, if like incense it is amber. Sounds easy, but all carbon-based materials will eventually burn and smell like--burning carbon. And the incense we buy at Hallmark is heavily scented with other perfumes, so the smell from an amber bead isn't all that familiar. But anyway, we all agreed it was real. So here we go.

1) Spiral rope amber: the Russians are skilled bead crafters and this spiral-rope beauty is a good example. The seed beads are glass, the embellishments are little amber beads. This one was from a tourist store.

2) Pressed amber: the Russians are clever in manipulating amber. "Milk" amber is made by mixing amber with chalk, "black" amber is made by mixing amber with soil, and "red" amber is made by heat treating the amber in chemicals. Pressed amber is made by softening and compacting the leftovers into beads. These beauties came from The Hermitage gift shop.

3) Green amber: Green amber is a crystal clear amber with an olive hue. These beads faceted then heat-treated to turn the ends red, or were they heat-treated to turn a "cane" red and then cut and faceted? I'm not sure, but the red sides make the beads opaque from the side and transpared head-on. Wow! These are also from The Hermitage gift shop.

All the amber was excavated at Kaliningrad.

Nancy

Spiral_Rope_Amber_Oct06_300.JPG (120.1 KB)  Green_Amber_Orbs_Oct06_300.JPG ( bytes)  Pressed_Amber_Oct06_300.JPG (95.0 KB)  


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identifying amber, etc...
Re: Re: Russian Amber -- renaid Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: joyce Post Reply
10/24/2006, 08:15:25

Amber is a much-loved material! The first time I ever saw Jamey was at an amber lecture of his in 1983. He is away from his computer for a few days. Below is the url for his Yahoo amber group. I suggest joining that and reading all the information within it's folders, as well as doing a search on this site for amber, going back about 500 days. And, if one takes the time to read ALL of bcn, including the archives, one would be pretty informed about many beads and materials. I think Tasart did that when he first found us a couple of years ago.


Related link: amberisforever
Modified by joyce at Tue, Oct 24, 2006, 08:59:53

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Re: Amber IDs
Re: identifying amber, etc... -- joyce Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
10/25/2006, 12:23:09

Hi Joyce,

Thanks for the plug. My Group actually does have a lot to offer in its archive and dialogues.

The mottled amber beads seen here look like Chinese beads called "root amber" by the Chinese and by collectors. I only know it to come from China, where it was exploited some hundreds of years ago, and that began to occur again in the 1990s. The literature says there used to be a mottled amber from Rumania--but I have not seen specimens. I am reasonably sure the beads shown are new Chinese beads.

The static test for amber was known as far back as Roman times, 2000 years ago. It was heavily promoted in the 19th century by British and American collectors. However, once phenolic plastic imitations were introduced (1926)--because these will also take a negative static-electric charge--the value of the rub test has been totally negated.

Rubbing "amber" to make an aroma is the first step in identifying its actual material. Phenolic plastics quickly make the smell of carbolic acid--a rather unpleasnat plastic smell. After about a minute (you MUST time it), real amber will exude the aroma of pine resin.

Please refer to the posted advice at Amber Forever for more helpful information.

Jamey



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Is the Hermitage Lying?
Re: Re: Amber IDs -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: njstark Post Reply
10/29/2006, 07:15:35

Hello Jamey,

Let me get it straight--are you really accusing the Heritage of selling fake amber in their gift shop, then handing out certificates claiming it was excavated from Kalinangrad?

Nancy



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Re: Is the Hermitage Lying?
Re: Is the Hermitage Lying? -- njstark Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
10/31/2006, 06:31:18

Hi Nancy,

Your attitude toward me is very polarizing and counterproductive.

I have not written anything about the Hermitage..., nor about their amber, and nor about the issue of selling "fake amber." I don't know where you get this stuff. Are you looking for a fight, or an issue to press?

I am here to share information. I will gladly tell you (or anyone) anything I know. However, do you know the old adage about flies and honey? You will get more out of me if you don't insult my intelligence nor challenge me about untrue or unrealistic things.

The link you post here does not present accurate information. It cannot be. The amount of amber that is excavated or recovered in Russia is pretty small in comparison to that from the Baltic States, Poland, and Germany. In the 1970s and '80s, the ONLY amber that came out of Russia was pressed amber—and I am not totally convinced it was locally manufactured. This pressed amber is still available, and still passed-off as "natural" and as "antique." In the 1980s, when the Gorbachevs made a state visit to the US, Mrs. Gorbachev gave Mrs. Reagan a necklace of amber as a gift..., and it was cheap Russian pressed amber....

If by some fact of circumstance typical Chinese "root amber" actually comes from somewhere in Russia, that would be information worth having. It is certainly not impossible. However, I would wonder why so much is seen in China, and so little is known from Russia.... Root amber is not shown in the pictorial of your link. This is the ONLY topical thing I discussed in the reply I posted to Joyce, that you are taking exception to.

JDA.



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San Blas Islands beads
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Posted by: paula Post Reply
10/13/2006, 12:06:16

My computer-less friend just returned from the San Blas islands, off Panama, and brought back these molded beads. All the beads she found were the same color, but so many shapes. The local women were wearing them, but only yellow beads. Does anyone know where else in the world these are worn and collected? We assume that they are all Czech. Paula

San-Blas-beads.jpg (124.0 KB)  


Modified by paula at Fri, Oct 13, 2006, 12:07:22

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Re: San Blas Islands beads
Re: San Blas Islands beads -- paula Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: stefany Post Reply
10/16/2006, 02:11:45

Maybe they ended up with all the yellow ones because nobody anywhere else wanted them?
I say this because selling yellow beads in my shop was always a problem and we waited for *years* for yellow to come back into fashion...
We noticed that some Japanese women like yellow! But no explanation why..
Stefany



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Yellow
Re: Re: San Blas Islands beads -- stefany Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
10/16/2006, 04:02:03

Hi Stefany,

I think one of the reasons some people don't appreciate amber is because it is often yellow, and a lot of people don't like, don't want to wear, or can't wear yellow. Personally, I like yellow a lot, and I love amber (but not as much as I love coral).

My expereince leads me to believe that dislike of yellow is only outnumbered by dislike of orange. I like orange too (a coral color, and also carnelian), but it's not up there on my list of likes. Nevertheless, some people really love orange. (If I don't mention this, we'll hear from those people.)

Jamey



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strange "necklace"
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Posted by: napoleone Post Reply
09/14/2006, 03:27:30

A friend of mine bought last month this necklace in Lomè, Togo. He was told that it comes from Nigeria, and was made of "beads found in the ground", as the dealer said. I showed it to three different enthomologists, and they confirmed my idea that the beads are pieces of termites galleries. These insects build in the ground these galleries with very hard walls against ants attacks. My opinion is that this kind of necklace was never worn, as beads don't exhibit sign of wearing,and normally the ends are rather abrupt, as they were broken more or less naturally. Possibly, somebody thought they could have sold as beads to western collectors, more or less aware of the true nature of the supposed beads. Though it is possible that these were really worn in other cases, being true "natural beads. Anibody has an opinion on this?

Regards,

Giorgio

collanatermiti001.jpg (65.1 KB)  collanatermiti002.jpg (43.5 KB)  


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Me Too!
Re: strange "necklace" -- napoleone Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
09/14/2006, 11:59:42

Hello Napoleone,

I was asked to identify a similar strand of "beads" from Nigeria a few months ago. Unfortunately, I missed an opportunity to show them to my friend Si Frazier (a geologist and mineralogist), whom I hoped would confirm my suspicions about these things.

These "beads" are clearly organic in structure (made by a living being), but are composed of a concreted material (sand and earth bonded together to become very HARD).

That they might be pieces of termite galleries does not surprise me—though I am delighted to read this from an outside interpretation, since I could not have guessed with any certainty which animal (whether termites, ants, wasps, or whatever) might have made them.

I also tend to agree that the "beads" I saw appeared to be unused, and to have been strung-up to be presented as a "necklace"—though I would be inclined to doubt anyone ever actually wore them as such. I think they are something scavenged that is convenient to be strung and to become "beads." This can happen many places in the world, where fossils and other materials are recovered, that are already pierced (or a present-but-clogged perforation is easily opened). Crinoid stem segments come to mind--as does naturally-perforated amber. Though people DID collect and wear these things, in antiquity and even recently, this doesn't mean that EVERY specimen collected and offered has been so-used. It would be easy to pass-off these specimens as "beads"—but they may only become that once they are sold to us and worn by us (!).

Jamey



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Beijing
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Posted by: Barbara Post Reply
08/29/2006, 15:16:02

My husband is teaching in Beijing end September for five weeks, and I shall be free for much of the day to explore, what fun!
I would be grateful and interested to learn from our resident experts about any bead related lore you would be kind enough to share. For example, traders, museum exhibits, fairs, factories or shops in Beijing, with names of area so I have time to get them written into Chinese characters.
Last time I was there I noticed many internet cafes, so I hope to keep in contact with the forum, onbviously about beads, political debate is probably not a great idea.



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Re: Beijing
Re: Beijing -- Barbara Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
08/29/2006, 15:56:04

Hello Barbara,

Chinese bead lore is copious, and might take days or weeks to tell....

When in Beijing, visit Liu Li Chong (street) where the "antiquities" market is; and also Hung Chow market—a sort of shopping-mall-in-a-building. I understand this has changed emphasis recently. When I was there, a whole floor was devoted to beads of all sorts. I think it may be pearl costume jewelry now. But anyway, there will be some beads at this place.

Have fun. Jamey



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Re: Beijing
Re: Re: Beijing -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
09/03/2006, 18:08:19

Hi Barbara,

I forgot to mention, when I was in Beijing, we had a very good time at the local flea market on the weekend. It's in a disagreeable location (at that time) past something like an automobile graveland (an industrial junkyard), but it was very worthwhile to pass through. I found some of the best real amber beads I acquired on that trip, there.

Jamey



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A very cool necklace and a question..
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Posted by: claudian Post Reply
07/26/2006, 11:41:47

Just bought this "Mali sandstone" necklace which I think is just gorgeous! But has anyone worked with this stone before? It "sheds" a powdery residue when you wear it. I washed them and that helped some. The largest beads are very big--almost 40mm. Though it isn't old the beads are drilled from both ends which is kind of neat. Any help on how to stabilize the material so it can be worn would be helpful. Steve

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Re: A very cool necklace and a question..
Re: A very cool necklace and a question.. -- claudian Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: nishedha Post Reply
07/29/2006, 01:09:48

For African beads with a similar problem I use pure unprocessed shea butter(beurre de karité): people use it there to take care of their magnificent velvety complexion...Just smear the palms of your hands with some of it and rub the beads.



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Limited Use
Re: Re: A very cool necklace and a question.. -- nishedha Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
08/03/2006, 17:29:20

Hello Nishedha,

Organic oils, such as shay butter (also palm oil, coconut oil, etc.), are best used on organic materials. For instance, amber, ivory, bone, horn, and wood. For amber, I recommend canola oil (because it has the same specific gravity as amber, and is what was traditionally used in the German and Polish amber trade 100 years ago). For wood, I recommend walnut oil. It dries very hard, and brings out grain wonderfully well.

For applications onto minerals or artificial products, the oil should be mineral oil. See my reply to Thomas, above. If one were going to apply animal oil to a mineral, I recommend nose grease. (No kidding.) Rubbing a discolored lapis bead along the length of your nose (and particularly at the juncture of the wings of the nose) will make it immediately look much better, and it persists well.

Jamey



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Amber? Phenolic Resin?
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Posted by: njstark Post Reply
07/07/2006, 17:05:06

Being a snoop at heart, I did three of the tests described described in a previous posting on the two strands shown below. Here are the results:

1) When cut with a knife, amber/copal will crumble while phenolic resin will slice. The first strand crumbles, the second strand slices.

2) When exposed to acetone, amber/copal will dissolve while phenolic resin is resistant. The first strand became tacky and stuck to my finger, the second strand merely became clean.

3) When exposed to a flame, amber/copal will smell like incense while phenolic resin will stink like burning carbon. The first strand charred while the second strand did nothing.

Clearly the second strand is a superior material. Can you guess where I bought the first strand? Nancy

Danish_Amber_1_for_Web.jpg (54.0 KB)  Copal_for_Web.jpg (44.7 KB)  


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Re: Superior?
Re: Superior? -- njstark Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: michael Post Reply
07/08/2006, 13:30:56

Hello Nancy.
It would seem unlikely that Amber beads purchased in Denmark would be Copal. If you rub these beads against a cloth like Denim to create friction and warmth, if it is Baltic Amber the pine type scent it gives off is pretty unmistakable. Even the African and South American Copal I have seen does not smell this way.
A few years ago on a vacation trip to the Dominican Republic, I attempted to purchase some raw Dominican Amber. I was told that Dominican amber could no longer legaly be exported unless it was made into beads, jewelry or at least polished localy. When I asked why, I was told by more than one person that during the first half of the 20th Century, huge quantities of Dominican amber were exported to Europe to be made into jewelry and sold as Baltic Amber. To keep the Amber revenues in the Dominican Republic I was told a law was passed. The people I talked to said at that time it was cheaper to Import this Dominican Amber than to use Baltic Amber.(it does nt sound logical, but that is what was said) Two of the countries specificaly mentioned to me were Denmark and Germany.
At the risk of being off the topic of beads, I would like to mention one more thing. Dominican Amber when rubbed to create a scent, smells nothing like Baltic Amber. It smells(to me)more like man made plastic, and even when burned could be mistaken for such. So some Amber beads represented to be Baltic Amber could in fact be Dominican amber and even thought to be plastic. (but still wont dissolve in acetone) just a little more confusion to add to an already confusing subject. I do hope this was helpful to you.

Michael



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Aromas VS Odors
Re: Re: Superior? -- michael Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/08/2006, 15:46:16

Dear Michael,

Your remarks demonstrate that aroma/odor can be very subjective.

All true ambers (when rubbed or burnt) smell much more alike than different; and all smell different from plastics. You may think a particular smell "is more like plastic," but that is a very misleading thing to write, in terms of advising others.

In the thirty-something years I have been dealing with amber, I have yet to meet anyone who could characterize one smell and compare it to another in a meaningful way. This happens because we have a limited vocabulary to accomodate thousands or millions of distinct aromas. Added to that, the primary plastics used to imitate amber (Celluloid, Acrylic, something else that's thermolibile (I haven't identified yet), and phenolic plastics EACH have distinct odors, and yet all are "plasticy." Celluloid, Acrylic, and the third one each have slightly resinous smells—and yet they remain distinct from the aroma of natural resins. The smell of burning phenolic plastic has the smell of carbolic acid (NOT "carbon" as stated elsewhere), and is possibly the most chemical and unpleasant aroma of any amber imitations

Jamey.



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amber CONFUSION REIGNS
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Posted by: anne bauer Post Reply
07/03/2006, 11:43:18

I have been reading this discussion on amber and the more I read the more confused i am.
Let me recapitulate how I interpret your postings

a) amber comes from Mali
b) amber comes from Morocco
BUT
c) all amber is Baltic
except d) obvious phenolic resin which is early plastic

So here is my question:
why Morrocan amber, Fulani amber,Mauretania, Yemen, etc.? This would mean that the amber is not denominated by its origin but by whoever wore it, right?

And seeing Patrick's posting, top necklace, is also amber, definitely Baltic but very much different to what Carl's beads look like. So what makes an amber bead a Fulani bead or Moroccon bead or just Baltic Amber?

There are amber beads on the Trade pages, which are repaired.
Where are these from what are they and who repaired them?

Thanks all for your input



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Forever Amber Forever
Re: amber CONFUSION REIGNS -- anne bauer Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/03/2006, 16:30:49

For people who would like practical and useful information about amber, amber substitutes and imitations, please feel free to join my Yahoo Group AMBER FOREVER. URL below.

Jamey


Related link: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/amberisforever/

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Re: amber CONFUSION REIGNS All amber is not Baltic amber
Re: amber CONFUSION REIGNS -- anne bauer Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: michael Post Reply
07/07/2006, 21:35:43

There are many types of true amber from different continents, not all of which is Baltic amber.



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Re: All amber is not Baltic amber
Re: Re: amber CONFUSION REIGNS All amber is not Baltic amber -- michael Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/08/2006, 03:14:21

Hello Michael,

What you say is certainly true.

Apart from Baltic amber (that is, succinite from Northern Europe, that spans England to Russia, and Scandinavia to Germany), the primary sources of amber traditionally have been:

Sicily (Catanite)
Rumania (Rumanite)
China
Burma (Burmite)
The Dominican Republic (copal and amber)
Chiapas, México

These are places where amber of large enough quantities and sizes, and nice enough qualities, have been exploited. And some of these sources yield amber that has characteristics that are generally not found among Baltic amber sources. (The reverse is true as well.) Some of these sources, such as Rumania and Sicily have (apparently) not been commercially exploited in the mid-20th C. to the present—and we never see this stuff in the marketplace. For instance, I know people who go to Sicily who have never heard of any local amber. (It's a small place.)

In addition to the above minor sources, there are also less-significant sources of amber, such as Lebanon and Syria, Canada, New Jersey—and even California. (And quite a few more.) Amber is considered a rare material, though it can be found many places. And in many of those places it is so rare there is practically no exploitation of the material—especially no commercial exploitation.

If you were to take all the amber from minor sources and the most minimal sources, and put it all together, it would be a FRACTION of the amber produced from Baltic sources (primarily Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Germany (including the former Prussia).

Baltic amber is world famous for these reasons: It has been exploited for the longest length of time (at least since 10,000 BCE), has provided the largest quantity of material, the best quality, and has traveled nearly everywhere (in the "old" world particularly).

So, while it's well and fine to say there are many sources of amber, statistically speaking, one is definitely more likely to have a piece of Baltic amber than from any other source (if it is real amber, of course). f you go to México you're more likely to find Méxican amber there. Go to The Dominican Republic, and it's Dominican amber they will be offering. (Usually.) But I am mainly speaking about what is available to us in the marketplace. If someone comes to us from Burma or México (etc.), they may have that relevant material.

South America is NOT a source of amber, as far as anyone has proven. There are actual amber beads from pre-Columbian times, from Colombia. (I have some.) But these days (over about the past ten years or so), the material that is sold as "Colombian amber" is actually local copal. (I am inclined to believe the pre-Columbian amber may have been acquired by trade with either México or Hispaniola.) There is also no amber in Africa. In North America it is reasonably rare, and I can't say I've ever seen any artifacts made from it and sold to anyone. So, we have to admit that ALL of the continents are not really well-represented in the marketplace.

I've been collecting amber for nearly 40 years—yet I have few non-Baltic specimens. No Rumanite, Catanite, and not a lot of Burmite. I have some Chinese amber (but what is called that is just as likely to be Baltic amber that went to China—and the same can be true of Tibet and many other places). Of course, I have hundreds of fakes....

Take care.

Jamey



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But amber pseudonyms can be the opposite of helpful...
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Posted by: joyce Post Reply
07/05/2006, 11:35:36

Here's an image of my small personal pile of "cultural amber". These are man-made plastic from probably a few origins and eras. The huge one is 35mm x 47mm and weighs in at 2.5 ounces.

Names like "African Amber" can really confuse a new customer for this material. A friend bought a cube bead like the 4 pictured here from Liza Wataghani at the last Gem Faire in our area. He was told that it was African amber. He was very excited to have a big fat amber bead. To learn later, when he showed it to me, that this is an accepted term in the marketplace, and that the material is man-made plastic. The pseudonym is another campfire name - to those who know exactly what it is, a convenient nic-name (also convenient for sellers) but it confuses newbies.

fakeamber.jpg (22.2 KB)  


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Don't misundstand!
Re: But amber pseudonyms can be the opposite of helpful... -- joyce Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/05/2006, 14:24:14

Hi you all,

Please do not mistake my motives or goals.

When I write about the phenomenon of using terms like "cultural amber" my intent is NOT to validate nor to sanction that use. (Far from it!)

My intent is to state that this is what has happened, continues to happen, and how and why it happened.

In the present context, the question was asked whether old plastic beads imitating amber have any value and/or merit the high prices they command. My reply is that they have had a cultural use by Africans, are as old as they are, are as scarce as they are, and remain collectible.

Ideally, I think it would be nice if dealers (such as Liza—but also MANY others), and if Africans who sell to them, would ALL drop the pretense that the beads we are talking about are "amber." This has been my goal since I first wrote about these issues in 1974.

As a matter of fact, one of the primary reasons I became a bead researcher is precisely because, as an artist, I had made several necklaces using these big phenolic beads, and had sold them (sometimes to friends of mine) as "African amber." When I discovered the beads were plastic, not only was I disappointed that I had been lied to—but I was also concerned that I had become part of the problem by then selling the beads with a false identification. So, it has FOR A VERY LONG TIME it has been my goal to educate myself, and then educate others about beads and beadwork.

I have done more than any other person to deal with this phenomenon, for 30 years now. Please don't make it sound as though I were part of the problem—when I have been the solution longer than anyone (!).

Jamey



Modified by Beadman at Wed, Jul 05, 2006, 14:35:03

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Plamber
Re: But amber pseudonyms can be the opposite of helpful... -- joyce Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: paula Post Reply
07/06/2006, 07:53:27

I collect blatantly fake amber. The big round ones were sold at
Beadazzled as "Plamber". I have no idea what the dry looking yellow/orange ones consist of, but noone could even suggest to a prospective buyer that they are amber, cultural or otherwise. The beads with the "inclusions" are some of my favorites. And there's one surprise at about 6:30. Can anyone guess what that bead is?
Paula

Plamber.jpg (112.3 KB)  


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Re: Plamber
Re: Plamber -- paula Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/06/2006, 13:36:15

Hi Paula,

Ther large somewhat flat bright yellow beads are treated cow horn from East Africa, made to be frankly fakes—though in one instance I know of someone buying them as "African amber." The horn is apparently boiled in oil to make it more translucent, and then dyed.

The spheroid beads to the top left and lower right look like the "late phenolic" beads that made their first appearance in the late 1980s. Although they were also sold as "old amber" they have a distinctive (and new) look, even though they are derived from preformed canes (like the older phenolic beads). Since I haven't tested any of these, I am not positive they are phenolic.

The small shiny bead looks like glass.

Jamey



Modified by Beadman at Thu, Jul 06, 2006, 13:41:42

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More cultural amber- different culture
Re: But amber pseudonyms can be the opposite of helpful... -- joyce Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: paula Post Reply
07/06/2006, 08:03:56

Here's my collection of what I now understand should be called "cultural" amber. They all came from the Bedouin in Beersheva Israel. Perhaps they came up through the Sinai from Egypt and thus fall into the category of "African". Materials include copal, bone and I guess phenolic resin. You can almost "see" the hands that worked the material with primitive tools. Don't you love them?

Amber-Bedouin.jpg (119.0 KB)  amberhandmade.jpg (99.4 KB)  Ambercloseup.jpg (109.8 KB)  


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Wait a second!
Re: More cultural amber- different culture -- paula Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/06/2006, 13:48:04

Hi Paula,

I want to make sure you understood my point.

What I wrote a couple of days ago was that certain dealers (one of whom I named) in the 1970s, when it became clear that the "amber" they were selling was not amber—they devised a selling strategy, by saying these beads "are culturally amber," because the previous owners believed the beads were amber (and many still do).

This was NOT a recommendation to start using that phrase. (God forbid.)

I would guess that some of the beads you show might actually be amber. Some are most likely phenolic plastic and thermolabile plastic (the pale oblates).

Jamey



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Gorgeous Fulani Amber
Post Reply Edit View All Forum
Posted by: Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply
07/02/2006, 08:29:40

REAL amber beads......well, except for maybe two, favored by Fulani women of Africa.

I have not seen any of these strands for sale lately. Anybody else seen any?

fulani2.jpg ( bytes)  


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Re: new vs. old, clear vs. opaque
Re: new vs. old -- Nura Cadd Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: nishedha Post Reply
07/03/2006, 15:27:27

Although not so common, I have seen golden color, opaque amber beads, brand new, from the Baltic. I do not think all opacity is due to age and/or use.



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In fact....
Re: Re: new vs. old, clear vs. opaque -- nishedha Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/03/2006, 19:08:53

Hi Nishedha,

In fact, you are correct. In fact, transparent amber does NOT "become opaque" due to aging.

It may become DARKER in color, and this darkening may be compared to or mistake for opacifying..., but fundamentally, opaqueness in amber is due to its cullular structure and the incorporation of gasses that formed microscopic bubbles (when the amber was still fresh resin). Another cause of opacity is inclusions—things with dirt and chaf from the forest (floor) where the trees grew.

Certain cloudy (NOT "transparent") ambers darken with age to the degree that they become much more opaque-looking. The crust they develop is or tends to be thick and rusty-looking. However, diaphenous amber doesn't generally age this way.

You can make opaque amber clear (with heat treatments); you don't get opaque amber from transparent or translucent amber.

Jamey



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Re: In fact....
Re: In fact.... -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: nishedha Post Reply
07/04/2006, 00:30:40

Your quote: "Certain cloudy...rusty-looking". That's right! Recently chipped opaque amber beads of a nice rusty colour can be seen to be made of a bright yellow stuff, under the aprox. 1 mm. thick brownish crust...

I do not fully agree with your "In fact...to aging". I do not know what causes transparent amber to darken and turn more opaque, but in my experience dark, opaque beads -- the largest bead in Carl's strand would be a typical one -- even beads looking hoplessly damaged due to their rough surface, become less opaque after a rubbing with raw shea butter. Amber initially opaque will turn of a richer shade, but will not gain translucence, no matter how much we massage it! I guess there are two types of opacity: one that is congenital to the amber itself and due the impurities, etc. of the material, another one caused by aging (i.e. weathering** of the surface).

One more point to consider: some beads are partly opaque, partly translucent, and that can best be seen after the "treatement".

**specially "sanding", because I have only found this caracteristic weathered surface in beads from Northwest Africa (Sahara area), never for example in Tibetan beads.



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Careful..., and care
Re: Re: In fact.... -- nishedha Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/04/2006, 05:01:14

Dear Nishedha,

You write, "I do not know what causes transparent amber to darken and turn more opaque...."

My point was that transparent amber DOES NOT become opaque. It merely darkens. When it's held to the light it will be seen to have remained transparent (minus the degree to which it has darkened). There is a distinct and significant difference between dark amber and opaque amber.

Next, you write, "...the largest bead in Carl's strand would be a typical one...."

No, I cannot agree. The large bead in Carl's strand is probably an old specimen of native copal. As "amber" goes in west Africa, actual amber is much more common than copal (except in recent beads from less than about ten years ago). The copal cannot be called "typical." However, it's look is specific to these beads. This material ages differently (and more radically) than amber. To compare it to amber is a mistake. What has happened to this bead is similar to what happens to amber NODULES after thousands of years. I have already said that opaque amber can be made more transparent with treatments (that include heating and oil). However, these copal beads are most likely MADE from translucent material. So, of course, oiling them will return them to this appearance (somewhat)—because they were not opaque.

Next, "Amber initially opaque will turn of a richer shade, but will not gain translucence, no matter how much we massage it!"

This is absolutely mistaken. It is routine to clarify opaque amber, for over 120 years that recorded history tells us, and probably much longer. It is true that this is a factory practice, and not something individuals do (easily). But the simple fact is that clarifying amber in oil is a tried-and-true proceedure. "Massage" has nothing to do with it.

Next, "I guess there are two types of opacity: one that is congenital to the amber itself and due the impurities, etc. of the material, another one caused by aging (i.e. weathering** of the surface."

Absolutely not! The two types of opaque amber are those I described in my previous post. Aging does not precipitate opacity (except superficially, and in-appearance—as opposed to in-substance).

Finally, "...specially 'sanding', because I have only found this caracteristic weathered surface in beads from Northwest Africa (Sahara area), never for example in Tibetan beads."

By "sanding" are you referring to the highly compromised granular surface of the large bead Carl showed? This is a COPAL bead from Africa. It is not surprising you have not seen these beads from a Tibetan context. It would not be impossible, but it would be unlikely.

Jamey



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References please
Re: Careful..., and care -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: njstark Post Reply
07/04/2006, 07:00:37

Jamey, can you reference you sources? Where are you getting your information? Nancy



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What specifically?
Re: References please -- njstark Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/04/2006, 15:07:12

Hi Nancy,

My essential references are listed in the articles on amber I produced 30 years ago, collectively called "Amber and It's Substitutes" (Parts I, II, & III), for The Bead Journal (1975). I am an internationally recognized authority on the topic of amber beads and jewelry (as opposed to biological/scientific issues of amber study—that interest me, but that are not specialties of mine).

In that series, I explained (for the first time anywhere in print) that the "amber" beads coming out of West Africa were really plastic; I explained the differences between amber, copal, and imitations; I explained how to tell the difference, using simple tests that practically anyone can perform. This (30 years later) remains the best source of information about collectible "amber" beads—and has been much copied and plagiarized by other authors since that time.

My work, apart from reading dozens and dozens of books, catalogues, and articles (to keep-up in the field), is based on observation. I have collected amber since the 1960s, and have studied many private collections. As a working artist, I have documented quantities of remarkable specimens that have passed through my hands, and have provided amazing opportunities for furthering and broadening my experience and familiarity with amber and amber substitutes (and imitations). I feel it is my first-hand knowledge, based on observation, that makes my opinions worthwhile. But I also support this with ongoing updating of the current thoughts of my peer group. I am professionally friendly with Barbara Ceranowicz—the leading authority on amber in Poland. She routinely sends me her new publications every year (god bless her). I belong to the International Amber Society. I consult with and work for Emma Maria Kuster, the Director of The Amber Museum in Bavaria—and Emmy has been a close friend for over 30 years. I am also good friends with Patrick Craig, who is a local specialist working on the issues of amber inclusions, and in particular the arachnid family. The amount of networking that takes place in the amber community is easy to underestimate, and difficult to understand—unless you are involved in it.

If you would like a list of the top three or four references that deal authoritatively with amber (apart from my articles), I would be happy to provide that, based on my opinion. However, I am not about to compose a list of the hundreds of references I exploit in my work..., particularly when it is my personal work that informs me the most. Again, I recommend participating in my Amber Group, where the on-going goal is to provide the tools for self-education on this topic.

Jamey



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Re: Carefree
Re: Careful..., and care -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: nishedha Post Reply
07/04/2006, 07:04:06

Carefree talking brings confusion.
What you say (i.e. that the large bead in Carl's necklace is not made of amber, but of copal) makes things much more understandable to me. So, many many beads sold/brought as amber are really copal. And of course, it makes sense: the less fossilized resin ages faster/easier.
And yes, of course you are right: the 2nd. "type of opacity" I was speaking of is not real opacity, but just a surface erosion screening the inner translucence.
And evidently "massage" was just a punt: what is instrumental is oiling. I did not know heat is also a recommended procedure: I will try it!
Thank you for careful checking our posts.



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Amplification
Re: Re: Carefree -- nishedha Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/04/2006, 15:14:14

"So, many many beads sold/brought as amber are really copal."

NO! In fact, until quite recently when local copal was again exploited as it had been in the past (ca. 10 years ago now, vs the early 20th century, apparently), actual copal beads in Africa have been rather scarce! As I remarked (excluding artificial imitations), real amber is much more available (in an African context) that is native copal. (You must read carefully!)

Copal has been a rather rare commodity from out of Africa, until recently.

By far, the greatest numbers of beads we see from this context (said to be "amber") are certainly actually plastic. Yet many, many of these beads are SAID to be "copal" when they are not.

Jamey



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Oxidation
Re: Re: In fact.... -- nishedha Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: njstark Post Reply
07/04/2006, 06:51:52

With regard to the darkening with age, it is most like due to oxidation. Amber, i.e., tree resin, is mainly polymerized carbon and hydrogen. Chemically it is a plastic. The stuff will readily react with oxygen in the air, causing it to craze and opacify.

Think of an old plastic toy or doorknob from the 50's, before chemists started adding antioxidants to the material. The toys or knobs or other fabricated items from this era will literally crack and break in you hand.

It's the same principle.

Many universities do research on amber and copol, Google is full of academic sites. One of them is listed below. Nancy


Related link: http://www.fossilmuseum.net/Tree_of_Life/FossilAmber.htm

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Oversimplifying
Re: Oxidation -- njstark Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/04/2006, 15:31:46

Hi Nancy,

There are two issues here, but they are related issues.

The deteriorization of amber is concerned with: 1) the surface of nodules that have been in the earth for millions of years; as oppoised to 2) the surface of objects cut from amber, subsequently exposed to environmental elements and circumstances, that cause similar decay (though over a much sorter period, of course). In any peice of amber, these are related issues, but should be separated from one another and dealt with as separate issues. One should not be confused with the other.

The decay of amber is essentially caused by oxidation—but this is not the only cause or the only issue. It also does not always have the effect of darkening the amber. Sometimes oxidation causes a lighter-colored "bloom" to occur on that piece. The decay is often red-tinted more than other colors, but this is not necessarily aways the case. A lot depends on the resins from which the fossil resin is composed, as well as unpredictable and unexplainable issues—such as what may have happened to the "proto-amber" while it was still in a fresh state, and what may have occurred to it during its time in that local environment, then in the ground, or under water.

Also, it is an oversimplification to remark that amber chemically is a plastic. Amber is "nature's plastic," and shares many features and charactertistics in-comon with artificial plastics. It would be more pertinent to say that some plastics are like amber, than the reverse.

In any context, with any subject(s), you can explain how and why these things are alike, and how they are different. We learn valuable information from BOTH concerns.

Jamey



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Yes, this is what I was taught
Re: In fact.... -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: njstark Post Reply
07/04/2006, 06:34:23

Jamey, I'm glad to read your message.

I was taught by a dealer in Berlin that most raw amber is opaque, due to gasseous inclusions. The submerge the amber in hot water to soften it and drive off the gas. Then, when it hardens, it is transparent. Nancy



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Uh..., no.
Re: Yes, this is what I was taught -- njstark Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/04/2006, 15:49:24

Hi Nancy,

If only it were so simple and easy! Anyone could do this stuff.

We have to be precise in what we say when we advise people. Misunderstanding is merely a few poorly-selected words away. What is "raw amber"? Do you mean uncut amber? Do you mean non-fossilized resin? In the context of amber, there are many pitfalls that must be avoided to deal with the issues brought up. If you use the wrong word, you may be inadvertently talking about something else..., but with amber it could easily be another related concern. So, let's be precise and careful.

Cloudy amber is typically trimmed, cleaned, and submerged in oil; and then CAREFULLY heated, degree by degree, to the point where the oil penetrates the substance and fills the microscopic holes. The oil used ideally has the same Index or Refraction as amber, and traditionally canola oil was used (though it was not named that at that time). Once the vat is brought to the correct temperature and held there for a time, it is then lowered, degree by degree, until the contents reach room-temperature again. Sources remark that this process took as long as about 24 hours to complete.

Anyone can throw some cloudy amber into a container with oil, and heat it. And, no doubt, this was probably done for a long time before it was brought to a science. But it WAS brought to a science in the late 19th C., in Germany. The success of the treatment is dependent on doing it carefully and precisely. It is essential to have control over the temperature, and to have a thermometer to gauge what is happening.

Submerging amber in hot water would never have the effect you are describing. It would be impossible. The BOILING POINT of water is much much lower than the softening point of amber. However, since the softening point of copal is much lower (than amber) it is possible that some copals could be so-treated. But this is BOILING water (not "hot water"), and copal is more often translucent than cloudy anyway.

Jamey



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I swore I would not ask anything else, but phenolic resin="plastic?" and is
Re: These are plastic imitations. Not real copal. -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: claudian Post Reply
07/04/2006, 16:04:19

still desireable? I should receive a rather pricey strand of large, opaque beads tomorrow. Here is a pic of the strand I won. Largest bead is probably almost two inches. That is why I continue to worry about this, even though I have already received one opinion from someone else I trust (and who owns quite a few I suspect). Thank you Jamey for your patience--if indeed you haven't lost it already lol!! Steve

won1.jpg (84.0 KB)  


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"Cultural Amber"
Re: I swore I would not ask anything else, but phenolic resin="plastic?" and is -- claudian Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/04/2006, 17:07:46

For centuries, Europeans have been sending Baltic amber to Africa (and many places).

They tend to send the "less desirable" but still dramatic and attractive sorts. Often, this means large opaque beads (because "large is good" in the eyes of many folks), and also, from the Baltic/North Europe, opaque amber is more common and less desirable than transparent amber.

Once Europeans had learned to treat amber—including pressing it (making big pieces from small pieces)—they sent THIS amber to Africa.

Once Europeans learned to make decent-looking imitations, they sent THIS material to Africa (and continued to call it "amber").

Amber is not native to Africa. (They only have copal, which is sort-of related, but probably not exploited before actual amber was available to them.) Amber is a received-product. That means when they receive something, and they are told "it's amber," Africans are probably inclined to believe that (in the long run).

Once 1926 rolled around, and phenolic plastic beads were sent to Africa, and said to be "amber," THIS became the standard. Many African people repeat traditional stories about earlier beads they used to have (both amber and copal), but the stories are now applied to plastic beads. (This can happen anywhere, of course.)

In 1972, when phenolic plastic beads began to arrive (in California, where I live), we were told these beads were "African amber." After some research, when I determined that there was really no such thing as "African amber," but only imported European amber in an African context AND/OR local "copal," I then determined to understand what copal was, and whether the beads in question might be copal. By 1974 I understood that the beads were synthetic plastics, but I didn't know which plastic specifically (though I knew it was unlikely they were "Bakelite"—though this was an idea that circulated). In my article, I described them as "Bakelite-type" and "phenolic" plastics. (It wasn't until the mid 1980s that I met a fellow plastics-researcher, who gave me the critical information that identified and dated these materials in the best precise and objective manner.)

Once we understood that "African amber" beads were actually plastic (from the late '20s), that substituted for earlier imported beads and/or local (copal) beads, it became commonplace to characterize these beads as "cultural amber" (from a region that didn't HAVE amber, but received it and received substitutes for it)—and to characterize these beads as being "valuable and collectible." My friend Liza Wataghani (whom I met in 1976) was among the African bead-sellers who took this marketing approach, and had a strong effect upon the marketplace and the terminology of beads (that otherwise wouldn't HAVE many of the names we still use today). I can't disagree with this opinion. To me, it is clear that the beads "are valuable and collectible." However, they ARE NOT "amber," In part, their desirability—and the boost in the cost of buying them, has continued to raise and even explode based on the false premise that "these are African amber beads." (A premise I disproved in 1975.)

So, yes—still desirable and still collectible, and likely to be pricey. But is the price raise reasonable? In some ways it is, and in others it is NOT. Many African bead sellers continue to insist that their beads "are amber." They are vehement and even defensive about it. And their position is understandable. But it is not the truth.

Jamey



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Re: Then...
Re: Amplification -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: nishedha Post Reply
07/05/2006, 02:50:20

... it would be so very helpful to have some photos illustrating this point (of copal vs. amber). For example, what is your opinion about the beads in Carl's posted strand? Which are amber, which copal...?



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Decisions, decisions....
Re: Re: Then... -- nishedha Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/05/2006, 03:50:04

Hi Neshidha,

It is very difficult to make accurate decisions based on photographs—as you and most of us know. I would guess that the copal beads in Carl's strand are the ones that look compromised—like the bead we are discussing.

I remember quite well, the first time I saw a necklace that included what I eventually decided must be old copal beads, included with old amber beads, from a West African context. If I recall correctly, the necklace was from Mali, and said to be Fulani. The copal beads were distinctive because of their usually large size, combined with somewhat unusual shapes (oblate but tending to be squared-off), and particularly the surface characteristics suggesting "great age," or "great environmental damage." Since copal biodegrades quite a bit faster than amber (in years rather than centuries), it is a wonder there are any old copal beads around to be collected and examined....

But, since the time I saw that necklace, I have seen others (maybe five or more), all of which combine the same elements, and that appear different in composition/construction from either old amber necklaces and/or typical phenolic plastic constructions (such as came to us from Mali in the 1970s and later, and many of which are said to be "Fulani").

Real amber and real copal can look so similar, it would be impossible to tell them apart from a photo. You have to run a test—and ideally it ought to be a hot-point test (to determine relative melting point). The local copal materials that are harvested or recovered in West and East Africa tend to be pale-colored and translucent, and don't look like so much like amber. (this can be true of copal from other sources as well.) But this does not mean that all old copal is "native African copal"—even if from an African context.

I have beads in my collection that look like butter-yellow amber, but melt easily, that came from Iran. Similar beads (material-wise, not shape-wise) also come from out of Tibet. Also, some pressed amber may tend to be slighlty softer (have a lower than expected melting point) than typical unaltered amber. There are a LOT of variables.

I wish I had all the answers..., but I don't.

Jamey



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Re: XXX Amber ID.
Re: Gorgeous Fulani Amber -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: nishedha Post Reply
07/05/2006, 03:35:16

Is any of the beads shown below (largest 36 mm.): collectible, gorgeous, Fulani, Morrocan, real, copal, Baltic, cultural... and/or etc. -- AMBER, plastic, copal, phenolic resin, stuff...?

amber_beads_2.jpg (39.8 KB)  


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1, 2, 3, & 5 - probably amber. 4 & 6 - probably phenolic plastic.
Re: Re: XXX Amber ID. -- nishedha Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/05/2006, 03:51:56



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Re: real vs. fake
Re: Gorgeous Fulani Amber -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: nishedha Post Reply
07/05/2006, 03:38:07

Are the beads on the strands below real/fake...amber?

astr1.jpg (49.0 KB)  a_str3.jpg (69.2 KB)  astrnd_2.jpg (54.0 KB)  


Modified by nishedha at Wed, Jul 05, 2006, 03:39:02

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They LOOK like real "wedge" amber beads.
Re: Re: real vs. fake -- nishedha Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/05/2006, 03:54:26

These are more likley to be real than fake, because they do not have the look of the wedge amber fakes I have seen (and published). However, NO ONE can make a real determination from a photo—and you should not expect anyone to be so-able.

Jamey



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Re: "Cultural Amber"
Re: "Cultural Amber" -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: njstark Post Reply
07/05/2006, 06:16:09

Jamey,
I think there are a couple of items that need clarification in your posting. You are so correct when you say we need to be PRECISE and CAREFUL in our language.

First of all, from a chemical point of view, amber and copol are the same thing. They are tree resins. It isn't (yet) possible to look at the amber/copol and determine which forest it came from or how old it. Sometimes this can be determined from the impurities or inclusions.

Second, I can't tell if, by phenolic amber, you mean reconstituted amber a completely synthetic amber; meaning completely man-made and chemically different from the hydrocarbon/benzene structure of tree resins.

Reconstituted amber is real amber made from shavings, scraps and bits of amber that have been melting down and pooled. There is nothing inauthentic about reconstituted amber.

Man-made amber, what most of us would call plastic amber, I am guessing was ingroduced in the '40s or '50s. I would make it from polystyrene, which has a soft feel to it and you can dig you fingernail into it, unless you add additives. But this part you surely know better than me.

Nancy



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Re: "Cultural Amber" ??
Re: Re: "Cultural Amber" -- njstark Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/05/2006, 07:18:17

Hello Nancy,

Your post has practically nothing to do with the perspective that some plastic beads can be or are called "cultural amber" by some people.

However, here are some additional observations about what you write:

There is (practically and for all purposes) no such thing as "reconstituted amber." For many years I have discouraged this meaningless phrase. Amber is not "reconstituted"—nor is it "reconstructed." The former refers to a material that has gone through a process whereby something that has been removed (such as water) has subsequently been replaced. Not pertinent to amber. "Reconstructed" (gemologically) refers to forming a material from pulverized pieces that are bonded together with a foreign material (often Epoxy). Also not pertinent to amber. In gemology, the material (I believe) you are talking about is "pressed amber," also named "Ambroid."

You remark, "...I can't tell if, by phenolic amber, you mean reconstituted amber...."

I don't mean that. I don't believe I ever wrote "phenolic amber." (If I did, it was a slip.) In all instances where the word "phenolic" is mentioned, it refers to artificial synthetic resins that are composed in a laboratory/factory, containing phenol, carbolic acid, etc. There is no relation to amber, except possibly in appearance, between these materials. I am unsure where you got this idea, that I would mistake plastic for another material (that being pressed amber).

Please note: semi-fossil resins are collectively called "copal," NOT "copol."

I agree that "...from a chemical point of view, amber and cop[a]l are the same thing." HOWEVER, these materials differ in their physical properties. Amber (that is, fossil resins of a certain usefulness and beauty) have naturally polymerized to the state that they have become hard and durable, and can be subject to lapidary treatments, and will be suitable for decorative purposes. In contrast, copals (geologically younger "semi-fossil" resins) remain reasonably similar to ordinary resin (as collected from a living tree) in that they melt easily (at much lower temperatures than amber), remain soft and in-durable, biodegrade more easily than amber, and provide inferior decorative products. The differences between these materials has very little to do with which "forest they come from." However, their relative geological ages is probably quite pertinent (fossilization being a process that generally takes time—though circumstantial acceleration is certainly not impossible). Geological age is NOT "determined from the impurities or inclusions." However, a specimen that includes flora or fauna that existed millions of years ago is clearly not merely hundreds or thousands of years old (as is the case with copal). Since I didn't suggest what you are remarking upon, I fail to see your point.

"Reconstituted amber is real amber made from shavings, scraps and bits of amber that have been melting down and pooled. There is nothing inauthentic about reconstituted amber."

I agree with you in spirit, but not in phrasing. I don't believe I remarked that pressed amber was in any way "inauthentic." I DO believe that pressed amber is OFTEN misrepresented as "natural amber" when it is not that.

"Man-made amber, what most of us would call plastic amber, I am guessing was in[t]roduced in the '40s or '50s."

This is nonsense! There is no such thing as "man-made amber." Amber has not (yet) been synthesized. Only imitated. As I stated earlier, phenolic plastics were used to imitate amber beginning in 1926. Prior to that time, earlier plastics were also so-used—though they provided inferior imitations. The use of Cellulose acetate, or Celluloid (a somewhat reasonable amber imitation) may go back to soon after 1869, when it was originally developed. You are really off the mark here.

"I would make it from polystyrene...."

I have proposed the use of polystyrene as an imitator in the past. Another chemically-savvy person challenged me on this topic, and I had to agree I was probably mistaken. Nevertheless, it is clear that some thermolabile plastic that is lighter than water is or has been used to imitate amber. I demonstrated this in my 1975 article.

Possibly, you have little idea how frustrating it is to repeat facts I have published long ago, and have repeated many times already—compounded by suggestions that are themselves poorly presented and that challenge me on points I have not even made.

Lordy..., do I need to get some sleep.

Jamey



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Plastic refers to the physical state of matter, glass is also plastic
Re: I swore I would not ask anything else, but phenolic resin="plastic?" and is -- claudian Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: njstark Post Reply
07/05/2006, 06:00:10

Steve,

The word plastic is a physical term (from high school physics) and it refers to the physical state of matter. Most of the time we think of matter as being solid, liquid, or gas. A plastic is a liquid that takes on a solid appearance at room temperature. It will melt if warmed sufficiently.

Nature invented plastics long before man came along.

Glass was one of the first form of man-made plastic. If you've ever seen window panes that are 2-300 years old you'll notice the flow lines; it is slowly feeling the effects of gravity.

OK, enough physics. I'd rather talk about beads.

Nancy



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Not exactly
Re: Plastic refers to the physical state of matter, glass is also plastic -- njstark Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/05/2006, 07:34:23

Plastics, in the most general sense, are materials that have, under certain conditions, both softened and hardened states. While in a softened state, plastics are moldable..., and once hardened, they retain that molded shape.

Many plastics are softened with heat, and harden when they are cooled. However, there are two classes of plastics: thermolabile plastics (as described above) and thermosetting plastics. The latter are only moldable in the initial phase of their manufacture. Once they are created, thermoset plastics rigidly retain their given shapes, even if heated again. Heat (if of a high enough temperature) only serves to destroy these materials. Bakelite was the first thermosetting plastic (1907). The next big group is the cast phenolics, post-dating 1926.

It is true that glass, when sufficiently heated, becomes plastic (that is, moldable and malleable), and becomes rigid when cooled. However, the ripples in old window panes are not proof of this property. It was recently forwarded that the ripples are actually caused by the type of glassworking that provided the panes. They are not "slowly dripping" nor anything like that.

In addition to the the natural plastics that include amber, copal, and fresh resin or sap, are tar, pitch, lac, asphalt, etc. Glass, like many more modern materials, is an artificial plastic.

Jamey



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Double beautiful! And a few tests.
Re: Strand just received. -- claudian Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: njstark Post Reply
07/05/2006, 16:11:49

OK, a phenolic resin distributor (Parkway Products) tells us that phenolic resins are resistant to common organic solvents, including acetone, which is commonly available as nail polish remover.

"Copal will dissolve in acetone." says amber collector Garry Platt, so this might make a simple household test to distinguish between copol and phenolic resins. See http://www.amberjewelry.com/Identifying_True_Amber_Gary_Platt.htm.

Platt lists a number of tests to distinguish from amber--I recommend his site and I'm going to try several of these tonight.

Finally, in 1995 Anderson and Crelling classified amber/copol into eight categories, based on the extent of their fossilization (i.e., polymerization). This well-referenced and scientifically-based website gives one of the best technical discussions of copol and amber that I have seen.

Have a good one. Nancy


Related link: http://www.emporia.edu/earthsci/amber/copal.htm

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More easily....
Re: Double beautiful! And a few tests. -- njstark Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/05/2006, 18:29:24

Dear Forumites,

Using solvents to test amber is or can be "destructive."

If we are talking about phenolic plastics, versus native copals (or even amber, for that matter) there are two very easy and totally nondestructive things that can be done:

1) Rub and smell the piece in question. Rub it for one full minute. (If you are the impatient type, look at a clock.) Amber and copal will both yield a pleasant aromatic aroma, similar to pine resin. (It may take amber longer to make this smell—hence the full minute invested). Phenolic plastic will give the odor of carbolic acid—this being acrid and chemical-smelling. It makes this smell very quickly and easily. If you are in-doubt about what to expect with phenolic plastic, bop into your kitchen and do the same thing with a pan that has a black Bakelite handle. It will make the same smell.

In case anyone tells you so, there is no such thing as a material that "combines" amber and phenolic plastics. (I have heard this A LOT in the past 30 years!) There is sometimes a very small quantity of synthetic plastic/resin in some pressed amber; however, there is no amber in plastics. (Except for particular imitations that have suspended chunks of amber in a resinous medium, such as damar or whatever. But in this instance you can actually SEE the amber pieces—and this stuff is NOT phenolic.)

2) Use a brine test! Put 8 ounces of ordinary tap water into a cup or glass, and stir in three tablespoons of ordinary table salt. In this brine, both amber and copal will immediately float to the top. Phenolic plastics will sink like rocks!

Again, at my Amber Group, there is considerable information about these issues available—more detailed than I have time to compose here, now.

Good luck. Jamey



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Anyone with amber animal beads?
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Posted by: joyce Post Reply
07/04/2006, 13:35:23

This guy looks like a water buffalo - perhaps made in China. His perf is top to bottom, from his back thru to his belly. He's about 16mm x 18mm x 43mm.

ambuflo.jpg ( bytes)  


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Sure!
Re: Anyone with amber animal beads? -- joyce Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/04/2006, 17:46:22

Hi Joyce,

Having worked with Emmy Kuster for some 30 years, a LOT of animal pieces have passed through my hands. Here are some photos, that are still uploaded at my Amber Group:

1) A necklace I made for Emmy, with a craved pendant presenting a lobster (or crustacian) in butter-yellow amber.

2) A pendant carved as the head of a horse. This was carved in Poland by a friend of Emmy's. I recommended to her that she have it mounted in silver (rather than drilled), and that the mount imitate the reins of a horse. The silversmith did a great job!

3) This is a group of pendants carved as frogs, with turquoise eyes. Emmy loves American Indian art, and hired Navajo silversmiths and carvers to work for her. She facilitated some of the earliest use of real amber by these artisans.

Jamey

84ae.jpg (36.0 KB)  68c3.jpg (17.2 KB)  ba02.jpg (39.9 KB)  


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Yet More!
Re: Sure! -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/04/2006, 17:54:27

7) Here's a group of various animals and subjects.

8) This is a necklace I made for Emmy, using a carved pale amber bear effigy, and a turquoise frog (from China, I believe), with Baltic amber beads and Chinese turquoise beads. It's quite beautiful.

JDA.

c53f.jpg (36.2 KB)  b5f1.jpg (7312 bytes)  


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"Amber" rehash--sorry!!!!
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Posted by: claudian Post Reply
07/03/2006, 09:41:23

Just received this strand today. Is there a way to tell plastic from resin? There appears to be one "pure" amber bead mixed in, based on its rough surface, and a couple more that look non-resinous. Whatever they are they are really attractive. We have explored this subject so much, but I'm still confused. Not a big surprise is it?? Thanks-Steve

rehash1.jpg (35.9 KB)  rehash2.jpg (37.1 KB)  


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False Dichotomy
Re: "Amber" rehash--sorry!!!! -- claudian Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
07/03/2006, 18:51:52

Hi Steve,

You have accidently set up a false dichomomy—because plenolic plastic IS "resin." It happens to be artificial resin, but still is resinous.

So, the issue is not on telling "plastic from resin." The object should be to identify the material, whether it be natural or artificial resin, recent, semi-fossil, or fossil resin; and wheher it is justified, or not to charactrerize the material as "amber."

Your beads appear to be phenolic plastic beads, post-dating 1926. Perhaps some ten years ago, new phenolic plastic beads (imitating amber) were still being made—and those from West Africa were sold as "old amber." Since that time, most of the new amber-like beads I've seen tend to be from thermolabile plastics (soft easily-melted materials), and may or may not be made from preformed constructions (such as canes)—since some appear to be injection-molded, or the like. China now makes a LOT of plastic imitations; and I see beads that appear to be new versions of "African" beads (the beads we came to associate with West Africa in the ealry 1970s, though originally from Germany and/or Central Europe)—but these new beads are from (out of) India.

The Amber Forum I moderate is very useful for sorting out amber issues.

Jamey


Related link: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/amberisforever/

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Named Beads: Peacock, Peace, Fried Egg -- A Catalog Please
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Posted by: njstark Post Reply
06/19/2006, 06:22:37

Hello Everyone,

I really enjoyed the postings of the Peacock Millies. I wonder, of the 200,000 or so millifiore patterns, how many of them are named?

I think it would be fun to start a list of the named patterns. Here are the only ones I know: Peace, Fried Egg, and Peacock, respectively (all from Africa Direct).

In the Peace group, I do not know which of the beads is the Peace pattern. Can someone identify it for me?

Will you please post your named beads, so we can have a catalog? Thanks.

Nancy

Peace_Millie.JPG (143.1 KB)  1_Peacock_Millies_Closeup.jpg (199.7 KB)  Fried_Eggs.jpg ( bytes)  


Modified by njstark at Mon, Jun 19, 2006, 06:23:06

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Re: "Fried Egg" Pattern
Re: Named Beads: Peacock, Peace, Fried Egg -- A Catalog Please -- njstark Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
06/19/2006, 11:54:46

Hi Nancy,

The "fried egg" design or pattern is made via trailing. It consists of superimposed spots, like a stratified eye pattern—and is NOT a millefiori pattern.

The vast numers of millefiori patterns do not have names, except general ones. When I did my classification system (1982), I could not even get people to agree that a simple distinction between "star patterns" and "flower patterns" was easily interpretable (though I continue to maintain that it is, and I continue to do so). So, what that means is there is very likely to be a LOT of individual opinions about canes, their interpretation, and what they should be named. It's like the difference (in plants and animals) between a scientific name and a popular name.

A plant has only one scientific name (though this can be changed through making a case for priority or speciousness), though it may have dozens of popular names. Once a scientific name has been changed, it can take the populace years to catch up. Sometimes they never do. (My favorite example: the plant called Aloe vera was renamed in the late 1960s. Yet over 30 years later people still call it that name, which they also mispronounce as "alo-veruh," when it is actually "a-LOH-eh-VEH-rah".)

The so-called "peace cane" is one I call a trifoil. In fact, it doesn't look like a peace sign at all. It is made from three color sections (like a pie chart) that are typically brick-red, blue, and green (or yellow). It's a stupid (that is, ignorant) name, in my opinion.

Luann, let's be careful here! You begin by asking for a list of millefiori cane pattern names; but you end with a call for "bead names." These are two entirely different things. Let's be clear about what we want (you CAN want both after all), and what we are suggesting--but not confuse one for the other.

Cheers, Jamey



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Oooops!
Re: Re: "Fried Egg" Pattern -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
06/19/2006, 18:01:16

Nancy--I'm sorry for calling you Luann. I didn't hear about the gaff untill it was too late to edit the error..., and clearly I still had Luann on my mind from the previous reply related to amber.

Jamey



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Luscious amber
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Posted by: Paula Post Reply
06/15/2006, 18:49:26

These beads were sold to me as amber by a very reputable Armenian antiquities dealer in Jerusalem. I was so enamoured of the colors that I couldn't resist, even if some may be copal or plastic. Has anyone seen these "branded" beads before (picture #2)?

Paula

Amber-close.jpg (69.9 KB)  1_Amber.jpg (110.6 KB)  


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Yes!
Re: Luscious amber -- Paula Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
06/16/2006, 00:25:08

Hi Paula,

These are phenolic plastic beads, post-dating 1926, made to imitate amber, and often used (when of this and similar shapes) in prayer strands.

These phenolic beads are often tested using heat (fire) that makes spots or areas turn reddish or even black (or black outlined in red). Occassionally, imitation amber beads have additional decorations carved into their surfaces—particularly when they come from prayer strands.

Jamey



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Re: Luscious amber, Amber? Bakelite?
Re: Luscious amber -- Paula Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: adjichristine Post Reply
06/16/2006, 09:26:34

I would like to know if old African amber is actually bakelite? What about the old European cherry amber that is quite expensive? Is that bakelite? Thank you for your answers!



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Not Bakelite
Re: Re: Luscious amber, Amber? Bakelite? -- adjichristine Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
06/16/2006, 13:49:20

Being precise:

Bakelite is a specific plastic. It is the original phenolic plastic, developed in about 1907. However, Bakelite is ALWAYS dark or dinvy-colored, always opaque, and basically used for industrial purposes more than because it has much inherant beauty. the exceptions are or were things like radio cabinets, switch boxes, containers, etc. Bekelite is dry-molded from powdered resin, and has opacifiers that make it opaque (including asbestos and wood dust).

In contrast, in 1926, the Bakelite Company intriduced an entirely new phenolic plastic, generally called "cast phenolics." These are made from a liquid resin that is CAST (not dry-molded), and doesn't require opacifying fillers. Because oif these features, it became possible to dye it any color (or colors), and to make imitations of translucent materials.

Amber became a prime material to copy, usually using tones of yellow swirled together. So, all of these amber imitations made from cast phenolics post-date 1926, and continue to be made. It's important to understand—these products are not molded. The compoany makes "raw materials," such as rods, platres, and blocks. From these com[ponents, articles such as beads are cut, polished, and drilled. it is labor-intensive work, resulting in beads that can have individual characteristics (but will be similar to other beads made from the same rod).

However, the latest generations of amber imitations are not high-quality hard cast pehnolics. Nowadays, they tend to be soft individually-molded beads (or whatever).

All of this is discussed at my Amber Group at Yahoo. See the URL below.

It is not widely appreciated, but practically all of the "collectible plastic" beads and jewelry pieces that are called "Bakelite" are NOT actually Bakelite. They are cast phenolics (if they are phenolic plastics, and not something entirely misidentified). Some people refer to these collectively as "Catalin"—though this is sort of like saying "Kleenex" regardless of what company actually makes the nose tissue being used.

Jamey


Related link: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/amberisforever/

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Addresses in Beijing
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Posted by: napoleone Post Reply
06/06/2006, 12:37:14

Hi to you all.
Next week I'll go to Beijing for one dozen days to partecipate to a congress. I was just once there before in 2000, and I just know shops in Liulichang street and surroundings. Any suggestion on where I could see some interesting beads?
Thank you

Giorgio



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You might try the Beijing flea market. I found amber beads there.
Re: Addresses in Beijing -- napoleone Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
06/06/2006, 16:26:54



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ID Please
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Posted by: njstark Post Reply
05/29/2006, 06:13:17

Can anyone identify these beads? I am bidding on them on eBay and the seller agreed to let me post the image and ask for identification. Thanks, Nancy

Nepal_4.jpg (55.8 KB)  


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Re: ID ?
Re: ID Please -- njstark Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
05/29/2006, 14:41:02

Hello Nancy,

Needless to say, it is very difficult to make a materials ID based on a photograph, and so little information.

Nevertheless, I will hazard a guess:

These are modern glass beads, made in India and marketed in Nepal, and made to imitate amber. Very similar beads in the pink-to-red tonal group have been made to copy coral. Such beads are frequently sold as "traditional" beads from Nepal/India/Tibet, but in fact they are just recent beads looking for a market. They first appeared in the early 1980s, when India began cranking-out glass beads with a vengence—that were quickly misidentified and misrepresented.

So, if I am correct, these beads are less than 25 years old, have no ethnographic context nor tradition, and are merely conveniently sold as though they did and are older than they are.

I hope this helps. Jamey



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Re: ID Please
Re: ID Please -- njstark Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Donna C. Post Reply
05/30/2006, 05:04:28

Hi Nancy - is it possible that these might be some type of processed horn beads? I got several strands of beads last year, made to look like "amber", that are actually processed horn bone. I'm attaching a link to a previous discussion. Most of the pictures in this discussion show darker beads, but several beads on my strands are the color of the beads in your auction listing.


Related link: http://beadcollector.net/openforum/posts/20955.html

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Wrong Continent?
Re: Re: ID Please -- Donna C. Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
05/30/2006, 06:49:18

Hello Donna,

As near as I know, oblate (or flatter) horn beads that imitate amber are limited to Africa, and come to us primarily from East Africa, and to a lesser extant Ghana (as the beads Evelyn showed in your link).

Since the question beads are from Nepal, it is fairly unlikely they are horn. Glass or plastic are far more likely. However, a basic tool for identification is to determine material—and anyone asking a question (ideally) ought to be able to say the material is "relatively hard" (Like glass), or relatively soft (like plastic). That would help a lot. (Nancy?)

There are horn beads made in India that imitate regional amber beads. Specifically, they copy the typical Burmese Hill Tribe amber beads that came into the marketplace in the early 1980s. However, their shapes are long slightly tapered cylinders and wedge-shaped disks—like the prototypes. The specimens I have have been tinted red or reddish, and so are quite different from the beads in question, all around.

Jamey



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pre-Tucson bead fest .........Kiffa / Murakad extravaganza!
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Posted by: TASART Post Reply
01/25/2006, 10:02:08

A few lucky souls in the Phoenix/Glendale, Arizona area met with Ebrima Sillah last evening.....Stick a fork in me....I'm DONE!!!! Aside from the usual really cool stuff he is lugging to Tucson, he has with him 11 of the most impressive strands of Murakad/Kiffa beads I have seen for sale in ages!!! They are from an older collection from the US that is now being broken up and sold. The strand price is $2,500 per.!!!
Which, of course, seems outrageously high until you study the strands up close and realize that at least 6 of the strands have beads that may never be available again and the other 5 have beads that are typically sold only per bead and not by the strand. Several hours of wiping sweat and drool were spent by me examining these very carefully and I did find beads amongst them that I had never seen before in person. This is by far the largest collection of impressive Kiffas I have seen offered for sale in many years. Oh to be a RICH collector (thinking aloud while looking at them). I believe he will sell most of them at the show, just because of the rarety and beauty of them. Please this by no means a commercial for Ebrima Sillah (who sets up at the Roadway around the corner from Abdul) but a recommendation to visit with him and have him show you these strands before they are all gone again (tell him Thomas sent you). I don't know of a museum or other venue that has this many in one place for viewing!
I know I'm biased when it comes to my love for Kiffa beads, be that as it may, this collection is worth seeing!
Thomas



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Healing the sick.
Re: Re: Mauritanian necklace, pic 1 -- adjichristine Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Logan Post Reply
01/31/2006, 04:14:10

I feel almost silly asking this question, but I believe, so I will ask. My mom is in a lot of pain with compression fractures (from osteoporosis). I suppose I could take one of my beads, put it on a string and bring it to her, telling her to hold and carress it and that it will bring her strength and healing. The power of belief is far greater than the bead's actual ability to heal, I am thinking. What bead should I choose? Or, are there really some beads with some magical powers that I could (affordably) obtain for her? Thanks to anyone who cares to answer this, I know it sounds a bit silly.



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Amber is very soothing to rub, especially a nice shape.
Re: Healing the sick. -- Logan Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
01/31/2006, 05:08:35



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More Old German Beads
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Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
01/19/2006, 03:47:54

After seeing that some of you are interested in the Frankish beads I posted a few days ago, I thought I would make another round of posts, showing some of the other beads I shot at the Prehistoric Museum in Munich in 1992.

As mentioned earlier, this wonderful regional museum houses a remarkable collection of beads, spanning prehistoric through Frankish times (roughly contemporary with the Sasanian and Islamic Periods in the Middle East, and with the Viking Period north of Germany). Also called the Migration Period by some writers.

Not all of these images turned out technically well, and I found that some of the better shots have migrated into some other folder, where I can't put my hands on them at the moment.... But they are such interesting beads and arrangements, I decided to show most of them anyway. I'll make an attempt at being chronological.

We begin with this shot of a very early necklace composed of red deer teeth, such as prehistoric folks wore several thousand years ago. A curious thing that happened is this. Robert Liu first advised me to go to this museum to see thes bead collections. And one of the things he told me to look-out for was a "necklace of ancient breast beads." And, of course, I did want to see this. (Notice the specimen in Lois Dubin's History of Beads, for a GREAT example of what I was expecting to see.) But I didn't see such a necklace anywhere in the museum. When I got back, Robert asked me about seeing that piece, and I said I couldn't find it. But after talking for a while, I figured out that he meant THIS necklace. These are not "breast beads" in the sense of having been carved to be that. But it is true that when pairs of deer teeth are placed together, they do look like breasts..., and this may be exactly what inspired ancient beadmakers to CARVE bone and ivory into breast-shaped beads in antiquity. In any event, Robert didn't recognize the beads as being deer teeth..., but that's what they are. And maybe "breast beads" too.

Jamey

PM_deerteeth.jpg (63.7 KB)  


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Yellow Glass with Metal Pendants
Re: More Old German Beads -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
01/19/2006, 04:32:13

Generally, when plain yellow bead are seen, they are often interpreted as being imitations of amber. And in this region where amber was very popular, it's a reasonable interpretation.

JDA.

PM_yellow_bds.jpg (32.4 KB)  


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Frankish Beads, with Roman Period Ringers
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Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
01/13/2006, 18:14:03

A few days ago, we were discussing the fact that, among the Frankish beads from Medieval Germany, France, and Britain—that include Islamic Period beads from the Middle East as well as local beads—that there are ALSO the occassional beads from earlier times included.

When I went to the Prehistoric Museum in Munich in 1992, I was gratified that they allowed me to shoot any beads that attracted my attention—of which there were MANY. The PM had contacted all of the regional museums in that part of Germany, and asked to have whatever beads were lying in vaults and storage, with the idea to put them all on display. So, it is a remarkable number of beads and ornaments that anyone can walk in a see.

Here's one of the photos I took that day. We see some very typical Frankish beads (for instance, the plain orange and yellow beads on the upper right), as well as typical Middle Eastern beads (the more complicated mosaic-glass specimens.

However, note the beads pointed out by the red arrows. These are classic "Alexandrian" millefiori beads from the Roman Era, that were about 1000 years old when they were interred with the Dark Age/Islamic beads.

Jamey

PM_frankish_bds.jpg (40.0 KB)  


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Future plans....
Re: Frankish Beads, with Roman Period Ringers -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: TASART Post Reply
01/14/2006, 12:35:07

I am hoping to travel this summer, Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia ETC.....I now must make the Prehistoric Museum in Munich one of my stops! Jamey do you think they would let a bead collector with "bead rabies" close enough to photograph still?
Thomas



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Re: Future plans....
Re: Future plans.... -- TASART Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
01/14/2006, 13:22:45

Hi Thomas,

You just have to write ahead, and get an appointment. You may be able to get permission to shoot anything there, and even use a flash (which is a big help). My experience was that I was interrupted about five times by someone who told me (in German, of course) NOT to use the flash, whereupon I would pull out and show my permission slip....

It is a very worhwhile museum to see, in terms of the beads displayed. These include specimens from as early as ca. 3000 BCE or earlier (deer teeth, carved as pairs of breasts), the Bronze age, through the Phoenician beads of the Halstat Period, Roman Period, post-Roman, and Frankish/Islamic Period beads. The beads were made from amber, bronze and other metals, bone, and of course, glass.

Jamey



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The Timeless Bead at Denver University
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Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/12/2005, 18:11:34

Last weekend, on Saturday, Denver University held a one-day bead event, in which I participated. It was built around World on a String, the great video documentary that was released last year, that was shown twice that day. There was also a great bead exhibit in the art gallery, two lectures, a commercial exhibit with eleven vendors, and hands-on classes.

I'll post a number of images, concentrating on the bead exhibit, since that is what I photographed most carefully.

The first photo, here, was taken on Wednesday, when Dan Jacobs, the Director, and the gallery staff were mounting the show. The lady on the left is Toby, who was my hostess while I was in Denver, and is also on the board of The Bead Museum.

Jamey

6750_DU.jpg (71.1 KB)  


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Thank you for this virtual tour!
Re: The Timeless Bead at Denver University -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: joyce Post Reply
12/15/2005, 20:10:18

Jamey,
Thank you for taking the time to give us a tour of the show, with such a varied collection. Was the event pretty well attended? I wonder if Denver University is considering doing a bead event annually? Did attendees bring some superb items for id?



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Re: virtual tour
Re: Thank you for this virtual tour! -- joyce Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/16/2005, 03:54:34

Hi Joyce,

Thanks for your comments. I'm glad a few of you found this entertaining.

The day of the event there were about 85 people registered. There was some confusion, that because of the classes (that one HAD to register for in advance), there was a perception that unless you preregistered you might not get in--which was not the case at all. And, of course, that morning it snowed--which may have kept some people away.

But attendance was good, and everyone was enthusiastic. I met a woman who makes unusual beads from silk fabric, that I thought were quite original. She was kind enough to give me a sample of her work, that I will pass to The Bead Museum. The appraisal sessions were good, but there was one item that overwhelmed anything else. A goldsmith showed me an amber amulet she has had for 40 years, that was received as a gift. It's from the Middle East, but in style it's like an ancient Baltic sun amulet. I was knocked over! It has to be from somewhere between ca. 3000 BCE and 10,000 BCE. I will be writing about this at my Amber Group, in a few days.

There's talk of having this event again next year. I hope they do. It was a lot of fun, and showed the University in a good light. Plus, I got to be on morning TV, talking about it (!).

Jamey



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seals & beads ...for those who love them
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Posted by: redmountain Post Reply
11/14/2005, 18:31:34

image



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real one?
Re: Re: ...authentic .... -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: redmountain Post Reply
11/16/2005, 16:44:10

Dear Jamey

thanks for your comments again!

Though there are many many fakes in chinese antique markets
we have some tricks on identify agate articles.
anyway the real old one could be told from the fakes...

I just wonder about those you-said "fake" seals ...when do you think of their age
(I mean the carving if (obviously) the bead is old )

one thing I am sure that they are not newly made.

later I will tell you why

R.M.



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Re: Fake Seals from Afghanistan
Re: real one? -- redmountain Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
11/16/2005, 19:45:04

Dear RM,

I first saw these seals in quantity in 1987, in a large collection of beads from Afghanistan, that I was hired to compose into necklaces. (This was after I was asked to authenticate the whole collection some weeks earlier.) The collection included beads spanning 500 BCE to modern beads, with lots of Sassanian and Islamic specimens; and quite a few fakes—including fake amber. Since then, I have seen many of these fake seals, along the same line. They are very recognizable. The collection shown in Magical Ancient Beads (though not necessarily all of them) were the next big group I examined.

The images are limited to a few subjects that I've seen over and over again: animals (like lions and bulls), a male profile (supposedly Alexander), geometrical lines, and the like. The thing is, these seal images are NOT made the way authentic ancient seals were produced. The ancient methods relied on rotary grinding, to create recessed circles. Then these circles were joined together to make up images. It's very akin to drilling. The fakes are wheel-cut. A grinding wheel is used to engrave cuts (usually "V"-shaped) that form lines. They have sloppy ends and produce a matte surface. The details of the images are crude. The look is very different from classical seals—and all this becomes very apparent when you make impressions in clay and LOOK at the images.

This is not to say that all ancient seals have nice images, nor that fakes never have nice images. The point is, it's a lot easier to spot the obvious fakes. Seals are not my speciality. There are many times when I would be unsure whether a piece is authentic or not—because there are some very good fakes in collections and on the market. All this began at least 100 years ago when seals became remarkably collectible in England. I have written about this a number of times. Unfortunately, I don't know when the fakes we are discussing here were made—but I don't think it was so terribly long ago. I suspect not before the mid-20th century, but it's only a guess.

I'll try to show some images when I can sort them out and make scans.

Jamey



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