Beads have long been a part of the exchange of goods in Southeast. Indo-Pacific beads were traded in Southeast Asia and colored beads from China were exchanged for spices and forest products from the Indonesian archipelago. The Straits Settlements, comprising the ports of Singapore, Malacca, and Penang, was formed in 1826, to consolidate the trading position of the British in Southeast Asia. Singapore, in particular, developed into a major entrepot of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Research by the late Peter Francis, Jr., drew attention to its role as a channel for a part of the Southeast Asian bead trade. This article extends his research by plumbing the rich statistical records of the Straits Settlements to examine the changing role of the Straits Settlements from a bead emporium to a consumer of beads, with Singapore acting as a distribution center for a growing domestic demand for beads.
The Society of Bead Researchers is a non-profit scientific-educational corporation founded in 1981 to foster historical, archaeological, and material cultural research on beads and beadwork of all materials and periods, and to expedite the dissemination of the resultant knowledge. Membership is open to all persons involved in the study of beads, as well as those interested in keeping abreast of current trends in bead research.
"Beads in the Straits Settlements: Trade and Domestic Demand, 1827-1937."
BEADS: Journal of the Society of Bead Researchers
15: 23-39. Available at: