It seems there was a period where small producers were using various recipes to achieve beautiful beads using phenolic resin.
I realize the difficulty - perhaps impossibility of identifying a particular maker.
In a 1923 industrial chemistry text by Carleton Ellis, phenolic resin products that have fish scales and powdered mica to produce a shimmering effect are described. The paragraphs specifically mentioning beads have headings like "Artificial Amber" and "Methods of Making Transparent Products", under the main section called "Infusible Transparent Cast Resin Products of Phenol and Formaldehyde". We can safely assume such products were around for at least a few years prior to the book's publication. The daughter of Leo Baekeland's first employee gave the start date of her father's Bakelite bead business as 1918 (interview from Oct. 2019).
As detailed in my 2016 article on the subject of phenolic resin beads (see the Articles page here on BCN), there were over 70 "turnery" products made from phenolic resin that would have been suitable for bead-making by the 1930s. Faturan was only one of these products. Faturan may have been one of the earliest phenolic resins that were produced shortly after Bakelite was commercialized in 1910. I have one mention that dates to 1913. I will be publishing a short article summarizing what I've found about Faturan in the near future.
Bottom line - these are likely phenolic resin beads from the interwar time frame (Late 1910s - about 1940) but they could be even earlier. There is no way to determine if they were made of the Faturan brand of resin. I have several similar beads and the inclusion are fairly uniform so I think they are fish scales instead of powdered mica. One of these days I may sacrifice one to a fracture test and see if I can tell more about the inclusions.
Good find by the way!!
PS can you get anything from reaming the hole and checking the odor of the sawdust?
What would I be looking for or expecting in the odor of the dust from reaming?
Fish scales! MIca! Fantastic.
It has been my experience that most or all of the beads said to be "Faturan" are actually just conventional cast phenolic plastic. I don't know how anyone would be in a position to make a comparison, since we only have descriptions.
I am also unsure of what to make of the proposition that the beads might be molded—except it seems unlikely. Do you see a casting or molding seam? Over time, beads that have been subjected to heating can have some swelling of the exterior, that disturbs their smooth uniform surfaces. This could happen when some sort of other material is included in the original canes, to create a sparkly or internally-fractured appearance.