The production of trade beads became so popular that literally tons of these beads were used for this purpose. The beads and other trade items were exchanged for human cargo as well as ivory,palm oil, gold and other goods desired in Europe and around the world. The beads traded were not of a set design, but were produced according to demand.
The beads' history dates to the 15th century when Portuguese trading ships arrived on the coast of West Africa. The beads proved to be a cheap and efficient means of exploiting African resources, especially trading house bohemia trading glassmaking technologies developed in Europe.
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As this string of beads suggests, trade beads were not of a set form but were produced according to demand, which could vary from region to region, village to village, resulting in many thousands of different designs. Reinventions of ancient Roman and Egyptian forms were also popular.
The large number of people involved in the manufacture of trade beads, plus the fact that bead makers - and their designs - moved around, means that it is extremely difficult to attribute a bead to a particular place, maker or time.
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Some designs can grandi guadagni rapidamente given a more precise provenance through dated sample cards, sample books or bead catalogues produced by European bead trading houses in the midth to early 20th centuries The success of this form of currency can largely be attributed to the high intrinsic value African people put upon decorative items.
Africans often used beads for currency, often referred to as african money and wealth storage, and social status could be easily determined trading house bohemia trading the quality, quantity and style of jewellery worn. This created a high demand for trade beads in Africa.
The popularity of these beads was revived in the late s when they began to be exported from Africa into the United States and Europe.
The term "Trade Beads" became very popular during this time period and is still used for the same bead reference today. As the popularity and availability of these old beads grew they started getting "named". Although some of these folklore names are totally meaningless