Post Message Search Overview RegisterLoginAdmin
"African Amber", Imitation Amber, Phenolic Resin
Post Reply Edit View All Forum
Posted by: Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply
12/22/2008, 12:54:19

Hello Folks,

We have had many discussions about beads that are commonly sold as "Amber" or "African Amber" or "Copal Amber" but in reality are made from an early plastic material called Phenolic Resin.

These beads were made in Europe (Germany) in the 1920s to the 1940s (some are still being made today) and traded throughout Africa and other areas as Amber.

I have had most of these beads since 1973-1974 and they were bought as "Amber". Several years ago when I originally posted these on the old bead forum, NBS, Jamey Allen was kind enough to enlighten me as to what these really were.

However, these old imitation amber beads are highly collectable and sought after, especially the huge honkers I am showing here. The largest bead is 55mm (2+ inches) in diameter. I have had some of these twice this size in the past.

imitation10.jpg (57.8 KB)  


Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
A closer view
Re: "African Amber", Imitation Amber, Phenolic Resin -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply
12/22/2008, 12:55:21

Notice that one of these large beads has been repaired.

imitation11.jpg (53.0 KB)  


Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
unusual dark and red colored imitation amber
Re: "African Amber", Imitation Amber, Phenolic Resin -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply
12/22/2008, 12:58:03

These old dark beads are still my favorites. Many of these have been hand carved into slightly different shapes. The largest dark bead is 55mm in diamter. The amber colored bead is real amber and has been repaired.

imitation12.jpg (61.2 KB)  


Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
a closer view of these beautiful dark beads
Re: unusual dark and red colored imitation amber -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply
12/22/2008, 12:59:43

(pardon the palm injury.....too much chain sawing)

imitation13.jpg (60.7 KB)  


Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Re: unusual dark and red colored imitation amber
Re: unusual dark and red colored imitation amber -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: redha.2009 Post Reply
04/20/2011, 04:18:53

hi,
Is it for sale, and what price you want it to sell this necklace.
thanks



Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Some smaller amber colored beads
Re: "African Amber", Imitation Amber, Phenolic Resin -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply
12/22/2008, 13:01:56

More early phenolic resin beads. There are a couple of strange dyed bone beads on here as well. These vary from 30mm to 40mm in diameter.

imitation14.jpg (62.4 KB)  


Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
More of the dark beads, many unusual shapes
Re: "African Amber", Imitation Amber, Phenolic Resin -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply
12/22/2008, 13:04:52

More than half of the beads on this strand have been hand carved into various shapes. There is also a carnelian bead on this strand. These vary in size from 20mm to 35mm in diameter.

imitation15.jpg (77.2 KB)  


Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
to lust over!
Re: More of the dark beads, many unusual shapes -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: TASART Post Reply
12/22/2008, 19:40:36



Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Double drilled and diamond shaped imitation amber beads
Re: "African Amber", Imitation Amber, Phenolic Resin -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply
12/22/2008, 13:10:33

All of the imitation amber beads on this strand have been double drilled and some have been carved to alter the shapes. These were typically worn as hair ornaments. In addition to these there are large hippo bone beads, an old granite bead as well as the SMALLEST glass Conus monetary bead replica (10mm x 6mm)I have ever seen.

The bone beads are large and average 25mm x 45mm.

imitation6.jpg (85.5 KB)  


Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Working these beads into a necklace.
Re: "African Amber", Imitation Amber, Phenolic Resin -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply
12/22/2008, 13:12:50

I have been making jewelry with these wonderful beads for over 30 years. Here is a recent piece just completed. These imitation amber beads average 26mm in diameter.

imitation16.jpg (82.4 KB)  


Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Beautiful!
Re: Working these beads into a necklace. -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: floorkasp Post Reply
12/22/2008, 14:42:40

Thank you for showing these. And the necklace is once again inspiring!



Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Real amber beads as a comparison
Re: "African Amber", Imitation Amber, Phenolic Resin -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply
12/22/2008, 13:14:52

beautiful old Amber beads.

1_real.jpg (74.1 KB)  real1.jpg (70.9 KB)  


Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
these belong in another collection!!! :)
Re: Real amber beads as a comparison -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: TASART Post Reply
12/22/2008, 19:30:10



Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Thanks for posting these, Carl, very nice beads!
Re: Real amber beads as a comparison -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Joyce Post Reply
12/22/2008, 21:57:39

Using the search feature (or new quick search) will likely round up many previous discussions, both for phenolic resin as well as for genuine amber. The phenolic material could probably be formatted into a bcn permanent article.



Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Phenolic "amber"
Re: Thanks for posting these, Carl, very nice beads! -- Joyce Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: globalbeads Post Reply
10/08/2010, 17:54:16

Great thread: http://www.beadcollector.net/cgi-bin/anyboard.cgi?fvp=/openforum/&cmd=get&cG=6313730303&zu=3631373030&v=2&gV=0&p=

Hi - was this ever done?

Joyce wrote: "The phenolic material could probably be formatted into a bcn permanent article."

Kathleen, Global Beads, Inc
Related link: Great thread: http://www.beadcollector.net/cgi-bin/anyboard.cgi?fvp=/openforum/&cmd=get&cG=6313730303&zu=3631373030&v=2&gV=0&p=

Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Interesting, I believe I have one of these. Always thought it was Amber
Re: "African Amber", Imitation Amber, Phenolic Resin -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: htide Post Reply
12/22/2008, 13:41:54

amber_001.jpg (22.4 KB)  amber_002.jpg (36.8 KB)  


Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Re: "African Amber", Imitation Amber, Phenolic Resin
Re: "African Amber", Imitation Amber, Phenolic Resin -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: TASART Post Reply
12/22/2008, 19:20:07

Carl your Amber and Amber simulants have always delighted me, the collection is first class!!! I can't add to anything you say but I am including a few shots of similar....here are more resin types, I love how the older ones get the crazing that gives them extra character

DSC03477.jpg (128.8 KB)  DSC03472.jpg (102.9 KB)  


Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Re: Re: "African Amber", Imitation Amber, Phenolic Resin
Re: Re: "African Amber", Imitation Amber, Phenolic Resin -- TASART Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: TASART Post Reply
12/22/2008, 19:22:13

two closer shots, the first showing the plastic like swirling effect and the second picture showing rough shaping into a more "ethnic" looking bead

DSC03474.jpg (63.4 KB)  DSC03475.jpg (52.1 KB)  


Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Amber look-alikes
Re: Re: Re: "African Amber", Imitation Amber, Phenolic Resin -- TASART Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: TASART Post Reply
12/22/2008, 19:25:31

Here is a wonderful strand of Carnelians, all hand shaped with some great age and wear. I bought these as Amber on eBay, the picture was very blurry and the beads looked very nice, even though obscured. I informed the seller of the mistake when I received them but decided to keep them as they were very beautiful in their own right.

DSC03465.jpg (126.0 KB)  DSC03467.jpg (77.9 KB)  


Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
"Cherry" Amber look-alikes
Re: Amber look-alikes -- TASART Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: TASART Post Reply
12/22/2008, 19:27:52

Here is a strand of modern plastic beads that were possibly intended to immitate "Cherry" Amber beads

DSC03483.jpg (51.3 KB)  DSC03487.jpg (66.9 KB)  


Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
"Cherry" Amber
Re: "Cherry" Amber look-alikes -- TASART Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: TASART Post Reply
12/22/2008, 19:29:27

Older Phenolics, commonly sold as Cherry Amber, even by forumites!!!

DSC03491.jpg (122.1 KB)  DSC03496.jpg (82.1 KB)  


Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
What a FABULOUS mistake! These are exquisite.
Re: Amber look-alikes -- TASART Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply
12/23/2008, 01:27:46



Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Congrats....I would have keep them too....beautiful....!!
Re: Amber look-alikes -- TASART Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: uwe Post Reply
12/23/2008, 02:03:24



Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
WOW...Great show, great collection, Carl....Thanks, and a question.....
Re: "African Amber", Imitation Amber, Phenolic Resin -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: uwe Post Reply
12/23/2008, 02:12:52

....as I go to Morocco in January again I would be interested to know, how to find out the visible differences between old phenolic beads and recently made synthetics...BTW, there is no difference in price between old phenolic and real amber beads in Morocco...Happy Holidays to you all...
Uwe



Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Hi Friend
Re: WOW...Great show, great collection, Carl....Thanks, and a question..... -- uwe Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply
12/23/2008, 05:28:10

Hello Uwe,

In Morocco and other parts of Africa where the old phenolic beads have been worn for a couple of generations they are considered to be amber so it makes sense that there would not be a price difference.

The visible differences between old and new phenolic beads can be difficult to determine. However, if you look carefully, the old beads should show some wear, a more accurate "color" with more "depth" and will be a little heavier weight. Cracks and internal fissures are a good sign BUT many old phenolic beads do not have these.

Carl



Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Thank you, Carl....will see, what I will find....
Re: Hi Friend -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: uwe Post Reply
12/23/2008, 05:38:52

...and you are up early as always...hoping, you don´t have a sleeping problem...Happy Christmas and best whishes to you and yours...
Uwe



Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Re: Thank you, Carl....will see, what I will find....
Re: Thank you, Carl....will see, what I will find.... -- uwe Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply
12/23/2008, 05:59:39

No, Uwe, no sleeping problems, just an early riser. If I can find some "new" beads I will post a comparison.



Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Oooh...if they are selling at a gram price, genuine amber is light compared to phenolic
Re: WOW...Great show, great collection, Carl....Thanks, and a question..... -- uwe Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Joyce Post Reply
12/24/2008, 09:19:30

Genuine amber is much lighter than old phenolic, so keep that in mind! But as Carl points out, old phenolic is heavier than new plastic too...



Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Re: Differences
Re: WOW...Great show, great collection, Carl....Thanks, and a question..... -- uwe Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/25/2008, 12:26:20

Hi Uwe,

From 1926, when cast phenolic plastics were first used for making imitation-amber, I would guess there was a continuum of production, and that the material slightly changed over time. However, I could barely begin to characterize these changes.

I do recognize that by the 1990s the beads coming to us from W. Africa, that were then claimed to be "old amber" or "old copal," were a different sort of bead. And at that time I assumed these were newer/later fake amber beads, being passed-off as the "originals" (from the late 1920s and '30s..., 'til when?). However, I would not suggest that these late fakes are phenolic. I didn't test any of them; so they might or they might not be phenolic. To my eye, the material appeared softer. I am more inclined to suspect these are modern plastic beads from somewhere like China. They also come out of India (though the origin is unknown).

I'll try to show some of these.

Jamey



Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Recent Fake Amber Beads
Re: Re: Differences -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/25/2008, 13:04:33

Here's a commercial necklace I bought in New York in 2003, from an Indian company. The quality of this plastic material is very similar to the "late" "fake amber" beads I have seen from W. Africa in recent years.

Scroll down to the second image, and note the retail price I paid for this not-bad-looking necklace.

Jamey

1784.jpg (41.1 KB)  1787.jpg (52.3 KB)  


Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Wow Jamey, What a STEAL. Thanks for showing these.
Re: Recent Fake Amber Beads -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply
12/26/2008, 12:44:08



Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
My ol' buddy TASART reminded me of this photo which I forgot
Re: "African Amber", Imitation Amber, Phenolic Resin -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply
12/23/2008, 17:25:28

A big ol' honkin' strand of imitation amber. Thanks for the reminder, buddy.

1_3_amber.jpg (99.4 KB)  


Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
WOW...and I really enjoy your typical smile on all your personal images, my friend...!!!
Re: My ol' buddy TASART reminded me of this photo which I forgot -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: uwe Post Reply
12/24/2008, 06:41:39



Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Thanks Uwe, this is one of my BETTER smiles............ : ]
Re: WOW...and I really enjoy your typical smile on all your personal images, my friend...!!! -- uwe Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply
12/24/2008, 14:17:55



Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Re: Are these phenolic?
Re: "African Amber", Imitation Amber, Phenolic Resin -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
12/24/2008, 19:31:01

These were given to my mother many years ago and said to be "amber" - only one of the smallest beads are translucent - any opinions about amber vs. copal vs. phenolic? Thanks!

Amber2.jpg (87.3 KB)  


Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
it is very difficult to tell from a photo
Re: Re: Are these phenolic? -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply
12/24/2008, 22:33:51

are these light as a feather or heavy like dense plastic?



Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Re: it is very difficult to tell from a photo
Re: it is very difficult to tell from a photo -- Carl Dreibelbis Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
12/25/2008, 11:23:32

I did not think of determining the density - I weighed the strand, measured each bead & calculated the volume, subtracted the weight of the clasp, and voila! The density is 1.1 g/cc so I guess this "proves" that the beads are amber. I will get more info from Jamey.
Thanks & Merry Christmas!



Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
Re: Your Amber Beads
Re: Re: Are these phenolic? -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
12/25/2008, 02:15:29

Dear Rosanna,

Determining material from a photograph (as mentioned many times here and elsewhere) can be a dicey proposition. One can only say whether the beads in question look right or not. You need to perform certain reasonably easy tests to determine their material. Write to me, and I'll e-mail a PDF to you about this. And perhaps we will post it here in the near future. You can also join my Amber Group (link below), and read a lot about amber, imitations, and fakes.

Looking at your photo, it seems there are two groups of beads here, joined into one strand. There is a lighter, more butter-yellow and cloudy (so-called "bastard amber" 100 years ago), and a more clear (by which I mean plain or unpatterned, NOT transparent) homogenous-looking ochre group of beads. The cloudy amber beads look like actual Baltic amber. The ochre beads are a 50/50,proposition. They might be old beads that have turned brownish; or they might be good fakes. And if they are fakes, they are most likely of phenolic plastic (because this is the most common material for convincing amber fakes since 1926).

It is quite easy to determine phenolic plastic, since when it is rubbed for about thirty seconds it exudes the smell of carbolic acid, that is distinctive and very un-amber-like. The smell is the same as Bakelite (a closely related phenolic plastic), and you can get this smell by rubbing the black plastic handle of almost any kitchen pan.

Regarding copal, until about ten years ago, there were very few real copal beads circulating, and few of these were "African." Possibly in the early 20th century it may have been a different story. But I collected and tested "amber" from the late '60s, wrote the exposé article that explained what "African amber" really is in 1976, and have continued to document these materials since that time. Until about ten years ago, the vast majority of "copal" beads were actually cast phenolic plastics, post-dating 1926. (An exception is copal from the Dominican Republic, that has been occasionally available, and sold as beads.) Over the previous ten years, copal from Guinea-Bissau has been made into beads, and often sold abroad—and sometimes misrepresented as "amber," or as "African amber." But this material is also distinctive, and resembles copal from anywhere else (such as the Dominican Republic, Colombia etc.). The material is quite translucent, and of a quite pale yellow tone (moving toward water-clear)—a color that is very unusual and unexpected for actual amber.

I hope this is helpful. Jamey


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

Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users
First impression, I'm with Jamey
Re: Re: Your Amber Beads -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: beadiste Post Reply
12/26/2008, 10:46:12

Hi Rosanna -

My first impression of your photo was the same as Jamey's - there's a mix of lighter lemon custard-with-meringue beads that are most likely Baltic amber, and the brownish caramel-colored beads that bear closer examination.

So, for what it's worth, two amber students have the same first impression.

A Polish amber vendor once told me that they save their opaque caramel amber for the Islamic markets, where this variety is favored for prayer bead strands. So, the caramel beads could be baltic amber, but, as Jamey says, there are some excellent imitations out there with this exact same appearance; hence the need for some closer inspection of these beads.



Copyright 2021
All rights reserved by Bead Collector Network and its users


Forum     Back