Beads have been made for thousands of years. They were originally hung on a cord to count prayers and gradually became a symbol of prayers. The word "bead" is actually derived from the Middle English word "bede", meaning prayer. Beads were used by the ancient Egyptians as decorations and as prayers when they were put on their mummies and mummy cases. They have been found in burials of many cultures: American Indian, Saxon and the Roman catacombs to name just a few. Most of the beautiful glass beads that were used in the fur trade with the American Indians originated in the glass factories of Murano, Venice. The same beads were traded in Africa, Asia, S. America and around the world for gold, ivory, tea, opium, etc.

The Venetians made glass beads as far back as 1,000 A.D. and held a near monopoly of the bead industry for nearly 600 years. To protect their trade secrets the Venetians went so far as to imprison the nearest relatives of any defecting glass worker and if the worker would not return, an assassin was sent to kill him.

Many people collect these historic trade beads as a hobby and an investment; others buy them to restring into fashionable and exotic necklaces. Most will agree, it is fascinating to ponder the travels and past owners of these ancient artifacts. We would like to stress that many of these beads are becoming increasingly rare and difficult to obtain, some that we used to offer are no longer available, and most have become more costly as worldwide demand for these old beads increases. Some beads listed below will no longer be available when our stock is sold. We feel that within a few years the majority will be unavailable for sale except by the bead.

Often bead strands will have a few beads of another type mixed in. Most collectors take strands apart to restring and view a slight mix as a bonus, getting some different beads without buying a different strand. Some choice/rare beads are found on mixed strands. If you need unmixed strands please let us know when you order so we can check stock.

"THE HISTORY OF BEADS from 30,000 b.c. to present"
by Lois Sher Dubin

This remarkable book is the first comprehensive history of beads with illustrations of several thousand examples of beads, bead work and jewelry representing 40,000 years of history, drawn from every major culture and region of the world. Over 350 illustrations, 254 in full color. Fifteen maps of bead sources and data and an extraordinary 8-page fold out of over 2,000 beads in full color, assembled on a time line that places every important bead type in its historical & cultural context. A magnificent book, fascinating, oversized, 370 pages - softbound, abridged, with foldout - $49.95

We are currently in the process of selling the last of our trade beads
and will be updating this page until they are gone.

Approximately 1/2" to 5/8" diameter black bead with about six red and white or blue and white splashes around the top with about the same around the bottom. The middle of the bead has two red and white swirl bands with a band of gold dust between them. These are very old, rare and incredibly beautiful.
Single Beads:
(A) Excellent condition - $95.00 ea.
(B) Good condition, showing wear - $55.00 to 75.00 ea.

Approximately 2,000 years old, made in Rome or Egypt during the Ptolemaic Period. Excavated near Timbuktu on the African continent, an ancient center along one of the continent's oldest trade routes. All of these beads are a beautiful translucent blue-green to green; although many have been buried for so long that the surface has "decayed" and has a whitish look. A few have acquired the rare and very desirable iridescent skin found occasionally in excavated beads. We these beautiful and mysterious jewels, approximately 20" to 22" strands.
Approximately 1/8" diam beads, mostly grayed surface - $20.00 per string; select quality with nicer color - $25.00

3/16" diameter round opaque, beautiful little mandrel wound beads 24" strand. These look just like miniature padres, only 15 left - $15.00

These Venetian trade beads are rounded cylinders with black cores and yellow stripes. These are the last two left.
(A) 25" including the raffia and beads - 125.00
(B) 25" including the raffia and beads with eight spectacular and rare multi-colored
near the raffia - SOLD

Beautiful dark blue with red & white star centers. The glass was layered in canes, then cut, the design resulting from the layering and revealed on the cut end gave them the names of "Star" or "Rosette" beads. A very popular design and certainly one of the most fascinating of the early trade beads. These are getting very rare and will soon be out of reach for most buyers. (Approximately 20" strands.) (A) 1/8" diameter to 3/16" at times, some have the thin disc "aja" look, nice - $75.00

Approximately 3/16" diameter round beads, blue-green with red and white star pattern exposed on sides. Beautiful old beads, only - $32.00
(B) Same but more olive in color - $26.00

So called because of the lovely 3/8" wide x 1/2" long oval shape. These beads are blue /green in color with red & white star pattern revealed on the bead ends. Beautiful old beads, priced at only - $75.00

CHEVRONS "One of a kind strands"
These beautiful old beads are a wonderful mix of different styles, shapes, sizes and
colors of chevron beads, all are strung in the traditionally manner on raffia.
(A) 24" - $85.00
(B) 23" - $60.00
(C) 23" - $60.00

(D) 25" - $75.00
(E) 23" - $50.00
(F) 24" - $45.00

(G) 23" - $75.00
(H) 23" - $75.00
(I) 23" - $75.00

38" long strands of old brightly colored beads. Great gifts for kids or collectors! Small (approximately 1/16" diameter) round, tube and barrel shaped beads, some solid colors, some striped or spotted, a veritable cornucopia of color, all glass. Some are old some not so old, but interesting. Wearable as is or use for restringing - $5.00

Approximately 1/8" diameter by 24", round with consistent color of a beautiful deep cobalt blue - $12.00

Different shape, size, and color variations, some are shiny and some are matte.
Rare and wonderful!
(A) 24" - $250.00
(B) 25" - $155.00
(C) 24" - $200 .00

Approximately 3/16" to 1/4" in diameter by 3/8" long tapered oval beads, these are white with a red and blue cross hatch pattern. Only two left and they are an exceptional 22" - $55.00

5/8" to 3/4" diameter beads, rare, first ones we've had in years. There are a few cracked or chipped beads on this last strand and that's it, no more - 24" Strand - $150.00

Beautiful red/brown color old stone cylinder shaped beads. Approximately 24" strands including the cord.
(A) Averaging 7/16"
diameter - $75.00
(B) Averaging 11/16" diameter - $125.00
(C) Averaging 1/2" diameter
- $75.00

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Page last updated: September 10, 2015