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Hello all! 17th century trade bead necklace, possibly from Jamestown, Va.
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Posted by: SkyStone Post Reply
04/06/2021, 09:00:20


Hello all! My name is Mary and this is my first post.

I wondered if you good people could possibly give me some thoughts
on this piece I am purchasing. Would you consider this an unusual
piece in any way? It is reportedly from from Jamestown, Va. c 17th cen.

Any and all comments are welcome!

Thank you in advance,

Mary

17th_Century_Trade_Necklace_1.JPG (57.6 KB)  17th_Century_Trade_Necklace_6.JPG (98.5 KB)  


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Unfortunately, probably not.
Re: Hello all! 17th century trade bead necklace, possibly from Jamestown, Va. -- SkyStone Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
04/08/2021, 14:23:39

These appear to be Bohemian beads from the late-19th/early-20th centuries.

They would be related to what are popularly called "Russian beads."

Although it is believed by some that glass beads were made at Jamestown, this does not appear to be a true story. As I understand it, they brought over an Italian glassmaker. But he (may have) proceeded to become a drunkard, and never produced much of anything.

The beads that would have gone to Jmestown at that time would mostly be plain drawn beads (perhaps dark blue, and perhaps other colors); and a-speo rounded glass beads of the "gooseberry" and similar types.

These are very different from the beads you show.

Jamey



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Re: Unfortunately, probably not.
Re: Unfortunately, probably not. -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: SkyStone Post Reply
04/09/2021, 20:19:17


Hi Jamey, thanks for responding.

Luckily I was warned off buying the necklace by none other than
Karlis Karklins himself. He cited the relative newness of the beads also.

This near miss serves as a reminder never to invest outside
my area of expertise, if I had an area of expertise.

Mary

Btw, this is the story that went with the necklace; when asked the
seller could back none of it up.

"Unearthed in 1920 during the excavation of the basement area of an 18th century stone home, the extremely rare and wonderful necklace dates from the earliest Colonial times of the mid 17th century. It resided from hundreds of years within a broken earthenware bowl and painstakingly restrung from what appear to be a tightly woven vegetable cording of which few remnants remained. This absolutely stellar piece was restrung in the 1920's and was on display in a Massachusetts museum until it closed in the 1950's. The amazing faceted cobalt blue glass beads are concurrent with the dating of the early to mid 1600's and feature English coins predominately from the reign of Charles the 1st. Although some coins are from Elizabeth the 1st and Charles the II's reign. Also present are dozens of early silver punched "cob" pierced coin beads. The coins and cobs tested as sterling silver or higher. With the original coin ring attachments made of both iron and copper. The double strand reconstruction was based on the original remaining strung beads as was the bottom three strand tassels. The beads are the very earliest form of bugle faceted clear cobalt glass trade beads found in the colonies and date to the earliest examples traded at such sites as Fort Stanwix which has provided age chronology based on beads found in stratigraphic analysis. The faceted bugle beads both tubular and tear drop in shape measure from over 1" to 1/3". Also present are 1/8" to 1/4" examples of more rounded early faceted cobalt beads. The coins are absolutely amazing when you consider that a few of them date to the early 1600's. The sixteen coins strung on this piece represent the earliest form of currency in the colonies. Also present are early silver two holed buttons and dozens of early punched "cob" silver beads fashioned from cut pieces of early coins. The necklace is intact and displays well and is a truly unique and magnificent example of early jewelry worn by the colonists in Jamestown and nearby hamlets. This is a chance to own a unique and remarkable piece of American history. Coins measures from over 1" to 1/2" in size. The necklace length in total is 19". 28" in total neck circumference. Weight is 100.2 grams."



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"Tightly woven vegetable cording"
Re: Re: Unfortunately, probably not. -- SkyStone Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
04/09/2021, 21:50:07

Sounds a lot like the raffia that African traders use to string their beads for sale.

I have seen beads strung on raffia being sold as some sort of Native American assembly...lots of misinformation out there, so caveat emptor!



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No content
Re: Unfortunately, probably not. -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
05/09/2021, 12:50:39



Modified by Beadman at Mon, May 10, 2021, 21:33:43

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Re: "Russian Trade Beads"
Re: Unfortunately, probably not. -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
05/11/2021, 04:12:26

It occurs to me to make the following remarks regarding what have been popularly called "Russian trade beads," and how this name has morphed over time (in terms of its use).

Originally, "Russian trade beads" was a regional designation that spanned the Pacific NW from Alaska to Northern California (where I live; notwithstanding that I was born neat Seattle, WA). For four decades it has been understood that "Russian trade beads" were actually made in Bohemia, and that their appearance as trade goods within the historical Fur Trade Era occurred rather late—since these are early-to-mid-19th C. beads. (The American Fur Trade Era ended in ca. 1850.)

It has been suggested that these Bohemian beads were received by Russian fur traders, via a Chinese connection. I'm not certain what those details may have been—since we are talking about a long time ago in modern bead history, witnessed and studied by me. And my memory re. this is vague, and I don't recall where I first heard the idea.

The beads in question are drawn geometrical (longitudinally faceted) beads, most-often cobalt blue (but actually quite a variety of colors) of a rather dark tone. Some have thin more-pale inner layers that make the external colors more visibly blue. The beads are somewhat unrefined, as though "made in a hurry," and were additionally faceted by having their corners or edges ground-off. They range in size from ca. 5 to 6 mm in length, up to ca. 15 to nearly 20 mm.

That these beads were traded by Russians to indigenous Native Americans is not challenged. They are commonplace enough within the region that many people are familiar with them. What has been challenged is any supposition that the beads were made by Russians—this being a simplistic and naive idea. (Consequently, I always place the name in quotations, to indicate it is not intrinsically accurate.)

In 1985, bead researcher Elizabeth Harris composed a booklet, "The Russian Bead," for the series "Northwest Bead Chart No. 3"—published by Gerald Fenstermaker. Elizabeth included a single long faceted blue bead in her color Plate I on p. 5, as figure 10. Thus, the definition or inclusion of a different bead began.

In 1987, in The History of Beads, author Lois Dubin repeats the Europe-to-China-to-Russia story (without including a citation, p. 274), but does not describe the beads. However, four color photos, Plates 93 to 96 on pp. 108-109, are presented as sample cards from the Levin Company in England. Plate 96 consists of 22 beads or groups, of which two appear to be "Russian" beads, along with 17 or 18 specimens that are faceted beads, and are probably Bohemian. The Levin Collection is believed to date from ca. 1850 (which is close to the time that commercial sample cards began to be manufactured and distributed as selling features. It is not surprising that few sample cards show "Russian" beads. In The Bead Chart (the timeline of bead history), three conventional blue "Russian" beads are shown at 112a b & c. (It is speculated that they may be Venetian. These are specimens 132a b & c in the 2009 edition of THoB.) It is not really clear whether anyone would recognize these beads as "Russian," apart from viewing the associated text. However, it's possible that some association might be made between these and other faceted Bohemian beads of that period.

Two years later, in 1989, the Picards produced their fifth publication, "Russian Blues, Faceted and Fancy Beads From the West African Trade. The booklet presents 1472 bead designs (individual beads and strands), plus those seen on the four pages making the outside and inside front and back covers. It is an astounding array. Guest author, Elizabeth Harris, provided a very good review of faceted beadmaking—covering drawn and molded varieties. Although I suppose it was not the intent of the Picards to expand on the definition of "Russian trade bead," to include other faceted beads, I think this was a predictable outcome.

Getting back to the necklace in question, The small long faceted blue glass beads that make up most of the glass beads present, are not "Russian" beads—though they are similarly-made Bohemian (or Central European) beads. I first encountered these beads (not surprisingly) from the inventories of West African bead merchants. And, frankly, I would not be surprised at all if this was the source of the beads used in the necklace we are discussing.

All of this is to say, I opt for a tighter definition of what is included as a "Russian" bead. And, actually, in my opinion, these ought to be beads that were actually traded and collected in the Pacific NW. That is certainly what is expected, by astute collectors who are interested in historical situations.

The photo shown here is a necklace from Alaska, that is composed from blue "Russian" beads, other historical trade beads, and locally-made shell beads. It is a top specimen from a private collection.

bcn_nl_alaska_trdbd_nk.jpg (92.5 KB)  


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Re: Hello all! 17th century trade bead necklace, possibly from Jamestown, Va.
Re: Hello all! 17th century trade bead necklace, possibly from Jamestown, Va. -- SkyStone Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: AnneLFG Post Reply
04/20/2021, 16:30:45

Hello SkyStone, No expert here, but as previously stated the antique faceted cobalt blue Bohemian beads are associated with the Fur trade, mostly West Coast USA and Canada in the 1800's (and other areas). I guess the name "Russian blues" derives from the Russians carrying the beads into those areas and/or also fur Trading for the beads.
One great resource are the photos of the actual Trade Bead Cards put out by the Bead Companies, that show the variations of size and colors available in various time periods. Places like Picard Bead Museum in Calif. have wonderful Collections of Trade Beads for sale in person and online and also a wealth of printed and photographed material on their website. They have a great "Bead Exhibit Archive Directory" online- and one section, Exhibit #11, deals with "Faceted Bohemian Beads". They also offer publications generally arranged by bead type that I highly recommend.

Related to the necklace in question, the beads, mostly all can be found in the "Faceted Bohemian Bead" section I link. Here are links to get you started. Yes the necklace was misrepresented, but it is a nice what I'd call "Mountain Man- Fur Trade" compilation that someone has put together on leather cord, with either real or reproduction coins (lots of fake coins out there). Glad to hear you asked before buying, and also glad to hear you had expert response & help too. These are nice beads in the right price range, but not at Jamestown 17th C. Prices, of course.
Info on some Bohemian Faceted Beads:
http://www.picardbeads.com/exhibit11.html
http://www.picardbeads.com/exhibit11/exhibit/exru9.html
http://www.picardbeads.com/exhibit11/exhibit/exru12.html
Blown beads:
http://www.picardbeads.com/exhibit11/exhibit/exru15.html
http://www.picardbeads.com/exhibit11/exhibit/exru14.html

Also B.O.T.L. as there are Newer 1980's Mexican made (Henry Merle) faceted cobalt Russian beads turning up on strands and alone...Always look for signs of wear and tear, look inside the bead, and check how the beads are made. The "Russian Blues" usually have several layers you can see on-end (layer colors will vary- though not all have layers). The Old ones are hand faceted and it's irregular if you look closely.
http://www.picardbeads.com/exhibit11/exhibit/exru87.html

Good luck and don't be discouraged. There is a lot to learn but you came to the right place. There are lots of helpful people in this Group, and they are very willing to share knowledge. There are people that intentionally deceive, and also those that just don't know any better.
Anne

Bead lover, collector since Age 15, semi-retired had wholesale/retail bead, folk art, tribal art store Lost and Found Gallery for 25 yrs. in DT Greensboro, NC

Modified by AnneLFG at Tue, Apr 20, 2021, 16:45:41

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"B.O.T.L" — Hmmmm....
Re: Re: Hello all! 17th century trade bead necklace, possibly from Jamestown, Va. -- AnneLFG Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Beadman Post Reply
05/10/2021, 18:01:20

I suppose you intended "Also be on the lookout [for]...."

botl_definitions.jpg (57.3 KB)  


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Re: "B.O.T.L" — no content
Re: "B.O.T.L" — Hmmmm.... -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: AnneLFG Post Reply
05/15/2021, 14:37:20

Bead lover, collector since Age 15, semi-retired had wholesale/retail bead, folk art, tribal art store Lost and Found Gallery for 25 yrs. in DT Greensboro, NC

Modified by AnneLFG at Tue, May 18, 2021, 13:57:19

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Re: "B.O.T.L" — Hmmmm..../Yes Be on the lookout or BOLO more correctly Thanks
Re: "B.O.T.L" — Hmmmm.... -- Beadman Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: AnneLFG Post Reply
05/15/2021, 14:37:36

Yes people should be on the lookout (yes I meant BOLO) for newer reproductions of Antique beads, and I think it valid to warn, when there are examples of such. I am so weary of the intentional misrepresentation of beads, as I'm sure are you. Sure some Sellers just don't know any better, but there are many attempts to deceive- and it hurts all of us affiliated with the Antique Trade Beads, whether hobby, business, academic pursuit, or combination.

Bead lover, collector since Age 15, semi-retired had wholesale/retail bead, folk art, tribal art store Lost and Found Gallery for 25 yrs. in DT Greensboro, NC

Modified by AnneLFG at Sat, May 15, 2021, 14:46:11

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