Some trade beads in the Beck Collection
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Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
02/27/2019, 11:35:10

Last May I was fortunate to be able to photograph some of the beads in the Beck Collection at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge, England. I especially want to emphasize "fortunate", since due to time pressures on the museum staff, I was possibly the last person accepted for private viewing last year. Thanks especially go to Imogen Gunn, Collections Manager for Archaeology, for hosting my visit.

The collection is described in an on-line catalog by text only, so I prepared a list of items from the beads noted as African. My main objective was a search for phenolic amber beads with documented dates. I did not find any in the Beck collection items that were pulled out for me. However I photographed everything if the beads were interesting African trade beads. The photography is not my best - I had my good camera with me but I think the ambient fluorescent lighting "confused" the auto features - I've had this problem before.

Horace Beck never left England but he collected beads, and in addition was gifted beads from world-wide explorers who supplied both the beads and information about them for Beck's work. Beck retired from his career as a maker of glass lenses in 1924. His main work "Classification and Nomenclature of Beads" was published in 1928. Beck continued to study and write about beads until his death in 1941.

Beck's bead collection was donated to the museum in 1947. There are accession note cards with information about each group of beads for most of the beads I photographed. Unfortunately, there are no dates indicating when Beck acquired the beads. I'm assuming he acquired most of his beads in the period 1900 - 1940.

In the descriptions that I've included with the photos, I'll quote what was on the cards if relevant.

The numbers in the titles are the museum accession numbers.



Modified by Rosanna at Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 12:48:56

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