Dating wire wound glass trade beads
Many arguments arise when discussing fur trade beads. Well, the ones that came out west before 1840, during the rendezvous period, and earlier. They were traded throughout the world and still are. Trade beads from the late 1400’s to 1840 are a very hard subject to research.
From 1720 to 1774, the Hudson’s Bay Company at York Factory traded 6,934 pounds of beads, which averages 128 pounds a year (Ray, 1974).
No records on beads are available until 1719 at which time York Factory traded approximately 290 pounds of beads.
Glass beads are significant in archaeology because the presence of glass beads often indicate that there was trade and that the beadmaking technology was being spread.
In addition, the composition of the glass beads could be analyzed and help archaeologists understand the sources of the beads.
Glass beads are usually categorized by the method used to manipulate the glass - wound beads, drawn beads, and molded beads.
There are composites, such as millefiori beads, where cross-sections of a drawn glass cane are applied to a wound glass core.
The Spanish explorers Narváez in 1527 and De Soto in 1539 carried glass beads for trade with the native inhabitants of Florida.
In 1622, a glass factory was built near Jamestown, Virginia.
Glass at a temperature high enough to make it workable, or "ductile", is laid down or wound around a steel wire or mandrel coated in a clay slip called "bead release." The wound bead, while still hot, may be further shaped by manipulating with graphite, wood, stainless steel, brass, tungsten or marble tools and paddles.