A wide variety of glass beads poured into Central East Africa during the second half of the 19th century as explorers, missionaries and others made their way into the uncharted interior. Each kind had a name and value that, much to the chagrin of the travelers and present-day researchers, varied from one region to another. This article synthesizes what historical documentation reveals about some of the more significant beads in the trade with an eye to identifying the actual beads that are represented.
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.
"Identifying Beads Used in the 19th-Century Central East Africa Trade."
BEADS: Journal of the Society of Bead Researchers
4: 49-59. Available at: