European trade beads history and dating
Beads and the slave trade Glass beads also played a significant role in the transatlantic slave commerce.
During the 18th century, it is estimated that 40% of the slaves loaded in West Africa were carried to North America in ships home ported in Liverpool, England. government and merchant traders were delivering beads to American Indian tribes by the ton.
Venice emerged as the medieval era's glass-making capital whose rulers jealously guarded the evolving secrets of mass-producing glass objects.
The business was a dirty and dangerous one centered around clusters of large wood-stoked furnaces capable of generating the nearly volcanic temperatures required to melt sand.
some were sewn into the helixes of the Indians' ears or were worn in clusters suspended from their ear lobes.
Many glass beads were placed into the graves of the deceased, presumably for use in the afterlife." During their first three centuries of trading with the natives, Europeans used glass beads as a major form of currency, importing massive amounts through ports like Philadelphia.
Kraft wrote that European glass beads became "the diamonds" of native culture, In the late 1800s, some Native American tribes began making European-like beaded bags for sale to white consumers.
There, owners and employees labored under threat of death for revealing any aspect of glass factory methodology to the outside world.
In 1492, when Christopher Columbus set out from Spain on his perilous voyage across the western ocean, his three small vessels carried quantities of the Venetian glass product.
When the crews sloshed ashore on San Salvador island in the Caribbean, the meeting between Europeans and native Americans began as Admiral Columbus "gave them hawk's-bells, glass beads, and other small things," according to the ship's journal.
By the 1400s, those Italian craftsmen perfected methods for mass-producing high quality, colored glass "seed" beads, which were round, and glass "bugle" beads which were tubular.
The development occurred at the same time European powers were beginning the age of exploration that opened trade routes with then-unknown regions of Asia to the east and North America to the west.Glass was a substance previously unknown to North American native tribes but their culture placed high value on beaded objects for decoration, religious ceremony and commerce.