19th Century Venetian "Ambassador" Beads

  • "Ambassador" or "Lewis and Clark Trade Beads" were created in the mid 19th in Venice and brought to Africa and the Americas in trade. These extravagantly beautiful beads became high level Prestige Bead Currency in Mali and Nigeria, West Africa.
  • Originally created in Venice and Murano Italy, a torch or high intensity flame glass lamp was used to melt glass canes or rods. Once in a molten state, the glass bead was formed by blowing and shaping with tools and hand movements. Often a winding technique can be seen in the body of the glass bead. Intricate patterns, (especially favored were floral motifs), were created by melting or inlaying other colored canes of glass into the base bead.
  • Interestingly, this particular type of hand inlaid, larger size floral motif beads were called "Lewis and Clark Trade Beads" or "Ambassador Beads" which is a great misnomer, as they were created long after Lewis and Clark's famed explorations.
  • These rare and "foreign" glass beads were highly valued trade commodities in Africa, and became the highest level Prestige and Dowry Currency throughout the Continent. The most rare and beautiful were often collected and worn by African Kings and their Royal Courts.
  • Length : Approx. 46"
  • Bead Size : Approx. 13 x 19mm to 17 x 26mm
  • The condition of the beads on this strand is superb. They were lovingly restrung by our New York City staff.


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