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Beads 16 (2004)

Precious Red Coral: Markets and Meanings, by Susan J. Torntore
Beads and other ornamental items made of precious red coral have been utilized by various cultures worldwide for thousands of years. Depending on its properties and market context, this highly valued material has meant different things to different peoples through time. The current industry – based in Torre del Greco in southern Italy – reflects past traditions but also incorporates new ideas into the production of beads and jewelry for the three principal world markets: fashion, ethnic, and tourist. These reflect the historic trade and use of red coral beads in several West African, European, and American cultural settings. This article describes the Torrese coral industry, revealing how the different beads are manufactured and marketed, and also delves into the cultural significance of precious coral over time.

Bead Making at Murano and Venice, by B. Harvey Carroll, Jr. with Jamey D. Allen
“Bead Making at Murano and Venice,” by B. Harvey Carroll, Jr., is a rare eyewitness account of beadmaking in and around Venice, Italy, towards the end of the First World War and documents the technology of the time as well as what impact the war had on the industry. Carroll’s report takes us through the various steps in the production of drawn or tube beads and also provides a historical perspective of the industry. Although the report presents much useful information, we now know much more about most aspects of glass beadmaking and endnotes provide much additional information and clarification.

The Levin Catalogue of Mid-19th-Century Beads, by Karlis Karklins
The Levin Catalogue is composed of two similar collections of glass and stone beads assembled by Moses Lewin Levin, a London bead merchant whose business operated from 1830 to 1913. A total of 621 beads of 128 different varieties makes up the collections which can be dated to the period 1851-1869. Although the beads are recorded as having been used in the African trade, several have counterparts at North American sites, thereby making the catalogue a potentially valuable research tool for those involved in the study of North American trade beads as well.

Incised Dentalium Shell Beads in the Plateau Culture Area, by Roderick Sprague
Whole dentalium and segments of dentalium shell have been used as beads in the Northwest Coast and interior Plateau culture areas both prehistorically and ethnographically. Incised whole shells, and no more than five known examples of incised segments, have been recovered from the Plateau, limited to archaeological contexts. A review of the reported incising clearly shows the use of design elements typical of the Plateau Culture Area as often also used on bone, antler, wood, and historic copper in addition to dentalium. The Asotin site (45-AS-9), one of the few well-dated Plateau burial sites with incised beads indicates that this phenomena has a broad and, as yet, poorly defined chronological occurrence, largely from the protohistoric to the early historic.

Book, Video and DVD Reviews in Volume 16
Gem and Ornamental Materials of Organic Origin, by Maggie Campbell Pedersen (2004), reviewed by Stefany Tomalin • World on a String: Parts One, Two, and Three, by Diana Friedberg and Lionel Friedberg (2004-2005), reviewed by Lois Rose Rose • Beads of Life: Eastern and Southern African Beadwork from Canadian Collections, by Marie-Louise Labelle (2005), reviewed by Margret Carey.