Brad Loewen

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The archaeological study of glass bead proveniences raises theoretical questions regarding the idea of “beadmaking centers” as defined by typological, technological, and geochemical means. Also important for defining beadmaking centers are historical sources in various languages. In the 19th century, French scholars interested in glassmaking in Normandy noted beadmaking ca. 1590-1635. Their publications show a rural cottage industry in the county of Eu and the forest of Brotonne, and an urban guild of patenôtriers in Rouen. While the historical data mostly show the production and export of rosary beads, the Normandy “beadmaking center” coincides with a major outfitting region of the late 16th and 17th-century transatlantic fur trade. This geographic correlation allows us to hypothesize that some French beads found in North America may have originated in Rouen. Interestingly, an archaeological collection from 1869 contains a chevron bead production tube and two frit-core (faïence) beads, similar to North American examples, in a Rouen production context.

Publisher Information

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.



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