Red-on-White Drawn or Cornelian Beads: A 19th-Century Temporal Marker for the Plains
The red-on-white drawn glass bead is an under-used 19th-century temporal marker for cultural objects and archaeological assemblages from Native American and fur trade sites in the Plains region of the United States. This bead variety is referred to as "cornelian" in Plains fur trade records, but is also known by several additional names in other places including cornaline d'Aleppo, cornaline, and corniola. By examining bead sample cards, historical references, fur trade ledgers, beaded cultural objects in museums, and beads from archaeological assemblages, it was determined that this bead variety first appears in the latter part of the 1830s in Plains ethnology and archaeological collections. Plains fur trade ledgers first refer to cornelian beads in 1837, and are common therein by the mid-1840s. These multiple lines of evidence provide a chronology for drawn red-on-white beads that is relevant for both the Plains and other regions.
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.
Billeck, William T.
"Red-on-White Drawn or Cornelian Beads: A 19th-Century Temporal Marker for the Plains."
BEADS: Journal of the Society of Bead Researchers
20. Available at:
Back issues of the journal not presently available on this site are available for purchase.
Visit the Society of Bead Researchers for details.