Brad Loewen

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The Venetian glass bead industry has its roots in the Late Middle Ages. The development of Atlantic trade and, particularly, the slave trade from the second half of the 17th century increased the demand for glass beads. The 18th century would be the heyday of this industry, when Venetian beads attained a significant global diffusion. While scholars have long known the global exports of beads from Venice, this paper contributes new quantitative data on their precise routes and markets in the 18th century, toward the Orient and toward the Atlantic. Using beads as a case study, this paper shows how a niche product allowed a Mediterranean city such as Venice to stay connected with the Atlantic world and how the Atlantic slave trade influenced Venetian glass bead exports to the West.

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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