AUD $470.00

Antique Venetian Trade Beads

A longer string of Antique Venetian Glass Trade Beads, mainly 19th Century.
Collected in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan (where we found them.)

Mostly opaque black “eye beads” with tiny white dots, some with traces of pale blue or pink over the white.(these were very popular as a defence against the Evil Eye.)
Some are known in the U.S. as “Lewis & Clark Beads” these have fine trails and swirls of white or twisted pink or blue in white on a black base.
There are even a few “feathered” ones with fine trailed white marbling on deep red or blue translucent bases.

For over 450 years, (using secret techniques inherited from the Egyptians, Romans, Phoenicians, Byzantines and Muslims) Venetian Trade Beads have ben manufactured on the isle of Murano, in the Lagoon.
Whence they were shipped and traded to Africa, North and South America, Southeast and Central Asia.
They were exchanged for furs, gold, ivory, stones, textiles, basically whatever the West was after in Foreign lands, even slaves.
(It’s said one large “millefiore” bead was worth a slaves life.)
Anything of value was literally “Traded for a string of Beads!”
Ironically,over the last 50 years, Collectors from around the world are retrieving them, some are incredibly sort after, with Magazines and Books devoted to them.

I’ve strung these with a very old Ersari Turkoman Silver bead in the centre and used old Ethiopian Silver “wallaga” beads (collected in the 1970’s and then already old) as spacers between the glass beads.
These silver pieces all have a warm mellow patina, and I wouldn’t polish them, as I would only be removing their age.
I’ve used an Indonesian handmade Sterling Silver Fob to finish it,
this too will darken with time, but will respond to a gentle rub
with a dry “Silver Polishing Cloth.”

Threaded securely on “Tiger Tail” which is the strongest thread I can use,
but vulnerable to careless stretching and kinks.


The book “collectable Beads” has photos of 19th Century cardboard sample pages, with labelled glass trade beads wired onto the page.(one page carries most of the beads we’ve found, mid 1840’s, from memory.)
These pages were taken by Traders to distant lands and Tribes, for them to choose what they wanted, thereby helping with reordering, later.
(It seems the Africans were the most discerning, wanting specific colours and designs made to match their textiles, that’s why the greens, yellows and browns are found there.)

Age: 19th Century

Size: L 495 mm.

Weight: 68 grams.