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African Copal Amber Ceremonial Piece?
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Posted by: Dawnese Post Reply
02/17/2016, 21:44:23

I have acquired a piece that is, I believe, an African ceremonial piece composed of copal amber beads with large silver beads on the ends. (See photos, in replies below.)

It weighs 764 grams (including the silver). There are 36 graduated amber beads, measuring from 10.5cm-14cm in circumference.

I have been told by a Nigerian woman that she believes that they are Nigerian, but I do not know anything more about the provenance of the piece.



Modified by Dawnese at Thu, Feb 18, 2016, 16:26:04

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Please check your private messages
Re: African Copal Amber Ceremonial Piece? -- Dawnese Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
02/17/2016, 21:58:41

Hi Dawnese,
Please log in to check for your private messages. I would be happy to help you by reducing the pictures so they can be posted.

It will be very hard to figure anything out with seeing the necklace.

Cheers,
Rosanna



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a photo, finally
Re: African Copal Amber Ceremonial Piece? -- Dawnese Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Dawnese Post Reply
02/18/2016, 12:45:16

trying again to get photo small enough to post

CopalAmber_Resize.jpg (63.1 KB)  


Modified by Dawnese at Thu, Feb 18, 2016, 12:45:59

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India / Nepal / Tibet style?
Re: a photo, finally -- Dawnese Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
02/18/2016, 21:36:41

Dawn,
Here's my best guess (and others please jump in!) - this looks like a fairly new necklace from India, Nepal, or Tibet. There is no such thing as "copal amber" - the term is loosely applied to various plastic beads that are made as amber substitutes. Without inspecting them in person, my best guess is that these are plastic beads of fairly recent manufacture.

Since the stringing is loose, if the holes are fairly large you can try the "reamer" test to check the composition of the amber colored beads, without unstringing the necklace. Take a thin diamond grit reamer and ream inside the hole on one of the beads, being careful not to cut the string. After you ream enough to generate some sawdust, pull the reamer out and sniff the dust. My guess is that you'll get a strong plastic-y smell. Real amber will smell like pine sap. Bakelite (phenolic resin) will smell like formaldehyde (strong musty odor). If you need to figure out what most plastics will smell like, just do some reaming of various plastic bottles and containers you are tossing out or recycling.



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concerning Copal
Re: India / Nepal / Tibet style? -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Stefany Post Reply
02/19/2016, 09:39:34

Copal is tree resin that hasn't yet completely become fossilised- its a traditional ingredient of varnish because its still soluble in spirits such as turpentine. it could be ancient but not nearly as old as Amber itself.
however lumps of it are carved into beads - and the main visible difference between the Copal resin and Amber beads in my collection is that the copal ones have a slightly flaky surface- which can be improved with a little oil.
when i get home to my main computer i might find an image to show.

the name copal is often mistakenly applied to anything that doesn't pass the other Amber tests, but much of that could also be acrylic, plastic or synthetic resin or various other materials.

i don't think of such items as fakes but rather as "Tributes".



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Re: concerning Copal
Re: concerning Copal -- Stefany Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Dawnese Post Reply
02/19/2016, 15:59:18

Thanks. I'll try the ream test.I'm pretty sure they are not real amber,but it will be interesting to try the test. If they are a bakelite or other sort of plastic,I'll be surprised, because of the wear/patina patterns



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Re: concerning Copal
Re: concerning Copal -- Stefany Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Dawnese Post Reply
02/19/2016, 15:59:18

Thanks. I'll try the ream test.I'm pretty sure they are not real amber,but it will be interesting to try the test. If they are a bakelite or other sort of plastic,I'll be surprised, because of the wear/patina patterns



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Re: India / Nepal / Tibet style?
Re: India / Nepal / Tibet style? -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Dawnese Post Reply
02/19/2016, 16:01:36

Oops.I posted my reply to you on another reply. But in short, thanks.



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Re: India / Nepal / Tibet style?
Re: India / Nepal / Tibet style? -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Dawnese Post Reply
02/19/2016, 16:01:38

Oops.I posted my reply to you on another reply. But in short, thanks.



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photo2 + 3
Re: African Copal Amber Ceremonial Piece? -- Dawnese Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Dawnese Post Reply
02/18/2016, 12:51:18

CopalAmber2_Resize.jpg (30.0 KB)  CopalAmber3_Resize.jpg (28.0 KB)  


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Check out this ebay auction
Re: photo2 + 3 -- Dawnese Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Rosanna Post Reply
02/20/2016, 19:47:29

eBay 301876783386

Here are some Bakelite (phenolic) beads that seem to have similar felt spacers. The close-up in the last picture shows some marbling that is very typical of phenolic resin beads from the 1920- 1950 era. Note how neat and perfect the holes are. Phenolic resin must be drilled. Also note how regular the shapes are.

Is it possible to take a close-up of the perforation side of a bead on your strand that's in good focus?



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Re: Check out this ebay auction
Re: Check out this ebay auction -- Rosanna Post Reply Edit Forum Where am I?
Posted by: Dawnese Post Reply
02/21/2016, 03:54:18

Thanks for the link. I'm away from home right now, so I can't get a better photo until I get home. The beads I have are NOT very regular in shape, but I did not look all that closely at the perforation, so I'm eager to get home and examine them with this information.



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