Research Links

Bead and Beadwork Research

The British Museum
The British Museum in London, England, houses a large collection of beads and beadwork from around the world, prehistoric to modern.

Faience and Glass Beads from the Late Bronze Age Shipwreck at Uluburun
The cargo of the Bronze Age (ca. 1300 B.C.) Uluburun shipwreck, Turkey, included approximately 75,000 faience beads and 9,500 glass beads which are thoroughly studied.

“Hair Pipes in Plains Indian Adornment: A Study in Indian and White Ingenuity” by John C. Ewers
Online text of Ewers’ 1957 article published as Anthropological Papers, No. 50, Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 164, pp. 29-85, pls. 13-37, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.

J.F. Sick and Co. trade bead sample card collection
This collection was the subject of Richard van Alphen’s 2006 book, The Bead Goes On: The Sample Card Collection with Trade Beads from the Company J.F. Sick & Co. in the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam. KIT, Amsterdam.

One may zoom in on the beads on each card and details are quite clear. A side bar provides dating and other information on each card. Kudos to the Tropenmuseum for making this important collection available online in such high resolution. To see the cards, you have to click on the Bekijk de kraalen line below the picture. However, you will need Silverlight on your computer (not available for XP or earlier) in order to see the collection in greater detail.

The Margaretologist
The Margaretologist was the newsletter of the Center for Bead Research headed by Peter Francis, Jr. It contains a wealth of articles on a variety of bead-related topics. Well worth investigating.

Munsell Bead Color Book
With over 170 of the colors most common in beads found in archaeological sites and used on ethnological specimens of beadwork, this portable guide will help in the writing of reports on beads and beadwork.

Museum of Glass and Jewellery in Jablonec nad Nisou
The collections of the Museum of Glass and Jewellery in Jablonec nad Nisou, Czech Republic, contain thousands of ornaments including beads, pendants, sample cards, and various categories of jewelry. Unfortunately, only a few of the items are shown on the website.

NativeWeb posts numerous pages discussing beads and pendants, bead weaving techniques, wampum, and an introduction to the use of glass beads among Native Americans of the northeastern United States.

Ornament magazine
Always worth a look is Ornament magazine, which frequently includes high-quality articles on beads and beadwork, both modern and from antiquity.

Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology
There are some 3000 strings of beads in the Petrie Museum. These formed the subject of a dissertation in the 1940s by Xia Nai, one of China’s leading archaeologists and pioneers after the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949. Xia Nai’s dissertation was only published in 2014 and to ensure that the research that underpinned this was also available, scans of Xia Nai’s 1,760 index cards held in the Petrie Museum archives were made.

Philadelphia Museum of Art
The collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art include beads, beadwork, beaded adornments, dresses, and other items from various contexts.

Picard Trade Bead Museum
Online exhibitions illustrating beads from various countries and commercial bead cards. Very informative.

Pitt Rivers Museum Databases
The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, England, holds a sizable collection of beads and beadwork from various cultures, as well as bead sample cards.

Stephen A. Frost Trade Bead Collection, Illinois State Museum
A collection of 71 sample cards used by the firm of Stephen A. Frost & Son ca. 1848-1937, which depict a wide variety of Venetian and Bohemian glass beads including numerous fancy lamp-wound beads.
Created by the late Peter Francis, Jr., as the outreach arm of his Center for Bead Research. Supporters rebuilt the website and it is now managed by the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, which also holds his collected materials.

University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
The museum’s collections contain thousands of beads, as well as beadwork and items adorned with beads.

Viking Beads
A discussion of beads of the Viking Age by the Viking Answer Lady.

Viking Beads from Fröjel, Gotland, Sweden, by Dan Carlsson
A report on Viking beads from the Port of Trade at Frojel, Gotland, Sweden. The report is 12 pages long, well illustrated with detailed pictures of different kinds of beads. There is also a short description about how beads were made in Viking Age. The report is written by Associate Professor Dan Carlsson, Gotland University, Sweden.

Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
The Bead Timeline created by the Bead Society of Greater Washington was donated to the Peabody in 2008, and is currently being integrated into the museum’s Division of Anthropology and cataloged in the Peabody Museum’s data base. In the future they hope to exhibit the Timeline or portions of it. In the interim, images of portions of the collection are posted in this gallery.


Bead Collector Network
An on-line collectible bead discussion forum contributed to and used by collectors and researchers all over the world and offering links to various articles and web sites discussing the history of beads.

Bead Society of Great Britain
Due to the great number of bead societies, most are generally not included in these links (yet.) The Bead Society of Great Britain is included here because its quarterly newsletter is simply the best bead society newsletter on the planet. The BSGB is open to all those who have an appreciation, either private or professional, of beads ancient and modern, of all shapes, sizes, materials and colours, their techniques of manufacture, and their application. Members receive four issues per year of the Bead Society Newsletter, a colourful and informative journal packed with articles.