Beads and Beadwork

(click on pictures for enlargements)

BW-005a BW-005  Christmas Necklace   This necklace gained its name by containing so many different colors of glass beads. These beads do not have a particular historic pedigree and would not be appropriate for early American colonial interpretations. They are, however, popular for wear today among many who like colorful accent pieces for their wardrobe. Caution: These are small glass beads and do present a choking hazard for small children. Necklaces are 13” in length. Patterns are completely random.    $3.00

BW-007  Mountain Man Necklace    The necklaces shown in this photo represent a combination of chevrons, bone beads, various carved beads and other assorted beads which span a large time period. Most are historically correct and fashioned after original designs and patterns. Designs vary.    $8.00

BW-033 BW-033  Arrowhead Necklace    These necklaces are made from agate arrowheads and bone hairpipes suspended on a black cord. A nice addition to your Mountain Man persona.    $4.00

BW-012  Glass Tile Bead Strand   The strands shown in this photo measure 16 inches in length and are designed to be combined with other strands to make a necklace. These are tubular glass beads with thick side walls called tile beads. Strands contain approximately 60 beads. The beads are yellow in color.    $3.00 per strand

BW-014a BW-014  Brown Bone Bead Strand   These beads are generic bone tubular beads stained dark brown. These beads pre-date the advent of European colonists and continue through today in use. Strands are about 16-inches in length and contain approximately 125 beads.    $3.00 per strand

BW-015  White Bone Bead Strand   These beads are generic cylindrical bone beads suitable for use in time periods throughout North American history. They pre-date the arrival of European colonists and continue in use through the present time. Strands are approximately 16-inches in length and contain approximately 100 beads.    $3.00 per strand

BW-036 BW-036   Round White Bone Bead Strand   These natural white bone beads are spherical in shape and are larger than the cylindrical bone beads. They measure about 1/4-inch in diameter and each 15-inch strand contains about 75 beads.    $3.00 per strand

BW-029   Chevron Bead Strand    This necklace is made up of 23 old chevrons, 10 black bear claws, 22 red white heart beads and a trade silver Celtic-style cross.   The cross is most likely German silver – it is not sterling silver.   The chevrons are definitely old – they were collected here in the United States during the 1940’s and are definitely not African imports or 21st century imposters.   They were then bought in the 1970’s at the NMLRA National shooting competitions in Friendship, Indiana.   At that time they were combined with the bear claws, red white hearts, and cross to make an interpretation of a Native American “Big Medicine Necklace.”
   The chevrons show their age – one has a chip out of it and a few have minor pits.   Overall, this is an exceptional necklace that will surely increase in value over the years.
   Please Note:  You are responsible to ensure that you can legally possess the bear claws you buy from Heritage Products on this necklace.   They were legally obtained by the seller; however, state regulations vary on the buying and selling of bear claws.   A state-by-state summary of laws can be found at the web site:
   We will not knowlingly sell this necklace to a buyer in one of the states that prohibit such transcactions.    $850.00




  Among several of the Native American tribes of the southeast – principally the Cherokee, Choctaw and Chickasaw – as well as some of the Eastern Woodland tribes, there was a custom of wearing special beads when war was declared.

War Beads are made by combining red and black beads; the colors are deeply symbolic for Native Americans.    While some colors had different meanings for different tribes, the color black was almost universally recognized as the color of death.    Red was the color used to designate triumph or success as well as to symbolize blood.    In combination, these colors represented warfare and for those who wore these beads, it was a symbol that they had accepted death – their own and the death of their enemies.    Warfare among all tribes of First Americans was a most serious undertaking, never taken lightly.    To prepare for war, the warriors had gone through a period of introspection, purification, prayer, and fasting.    Once they put on War Beads, their commitment to the bloody work at hand was total; therefore the beads became an outward symbol of their deep inner dedication to their grave decision.    The rest of their tribe put on the same color beads in a show of support for their warriors.

Also, among these same tribes living along and east of the Mississippi River, it was not uncommon to present a strand of War Beads to those upon whom war had been declared.    This was done to make it perfectly clear that war was about to take place unless an immediate compromise was made.

"Is our nation at war?"    This was the question posed to us when we first saw these War Beads being worn by members of the Cherokee Nation we met at Fort Loudon, Tennessee.    The more we learned of this custom, the more it occurred to us that this is a fine way of showing our support for our nation’s warriors today.    Therefore, we decided to offer these beads to our customers and to donate any and all profits made to the USO as our way of supporting our nation’s modern-day Warriors.

Types of beads used in making our War Beads

   The odd-shaped dull red beads are called “Brick Red Green Hearts” and are original trade beads from the 18th century.    These were commonly traded across North America from 1700 through 1800.

   The matte black round glass beads are modern day reproductions of generic black beads traded during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.    Matte black beads add somber significance to the War Beads.

   Red and black wampum beads were in use among the Native American tribes of the northeast during this same time period.    The modern-made wampum used in making these War Beads comes from the same region of the Czech Republic where these beads have been made since the 1600’s.

All profits from the sale of War Beads donated to the USO.

BW-019 BW-019  Original War Bead Necklace    Support our Troops! Buy War Beads! Please take the time to read about War Beads, their history, and their present-day use. Wearing these beads shows your support of our nation’s Warriors today and helps the USO at the same time. This makes your purchase a win-win situation for you and our Warriors.    $20.00

BW-022  War Bead Earrings    While there is no historic record of this style of War Beads in use by any tribe of Native Americans, there are those who wanted to show their support of our modern-day Warriors in this way. And so we now have these earrings for those who would like a set to match his or her War Beads necklace. Hypo allergenic fish hook wire findings are used in making these earrings. Please specify whether you would like Original or Wampum War Bead Earrings.    $10.00




All of the beads shown below are considered to be beads that were in use during the fur trade period in North America ranging in time from the 17th through the 20th centuries.   The beads themselves were made in Venice, Italy, on the island of Murano where beads have been made since about the 15th century, and then carried off in the holds of ships to ports all around the world, to every continent save Antarctica, to be used in trade.   These particular beads were found in Africa – where during the same time period the beads were used in the same way they were used here in this country.   Today, there is an active business of buying these old beads in Africa to be re-sold here in North America.   One of the hallmarks of an African trade bead is the natural fiber (raffia) used to string the beads into strands.   Bead merchants in Africa buy old beads, clean them and re-string them in strands for re-sale.   Some of these beads came from shipwrecks off the coast of Africa, some were washed up on shore where they were salvaged, some came from almost-forgotten warehouses where they lay in wooden chests and casks waiting to be re-discovered and, of course, many came from private owners willing to trade their old beads for modern goods.   Although millions of pounds of beads were brought to North America, very few remain in circulation today.   It is curious that beads made in Europe have gone to Africa, stayed there for more than a century, and then were traded to North America to be sold once again.   Their appeal is just as strong today as it has been over the last three centuries.   Holding a strand of these historic beads in your hand is truly a touchstone with antiquity unlike few others you will encounter today outside of a museum.   We feel fortunate to have established a working relationship with a group of African bead merchants who have provided us with these trade beads.  


BW-023  Great Lakes Trade Beads    These beads were so called because they were traded around the Great Lakes region and down along the Mississippi River valley. A similar bead was also produced by the Dutch and for this reason this bead is sometimes referred to as the “Dutch swirl.” Beads are at least 150 years old and of very high quality.
Strand #1 Unusually long strands measure approximately 36 inches.    $150.00
Strand #2 Measures 31 inches long, has 64 beads and appears to be older than other strands.    $135.00

BW-023c BW-023b
BW-024 BW-024  Great Lakes Trade Beads - Single Beads    We have a limited number of these beads on hand currently.    $3.00 each

BW-025  Large Yellow French Cross Trade Beads     These Venetian glass beads are well over 100 years old and were popular among the Plains tribes where they were called French Cross Trade Beads. These figured prominently in the fur trade between Native Americans and French Canadian and American traders. Some of the beads show their age in some light pitting and a few chips. Overall, they are in very good condition considering their age. Necklaces are approximately 20 inches in length.    $45.00 BW-025c
BW-026c BW-026  Small Yellow French Cross Trade Beads    Venetian glass beads well more than 100 years old, these beads are of the same kind and date to the time as the Large French Cross beads. These beads were popular among Native Americans of the Great Plains. Beads are approximately 5/16” in length.    $35.00
BW-28  Brick Red Green Heart    "These Venetian glass beads are called “green hearts” because the core of the bead is a dark green translucent glass over which the dark brick red glass is applied. These beads are of irregular length and shape; some rounded but most are tubular. A few of the beads show signs of having been underwater for a century or more and, in fact, came from shipwrecks off the coast of Africa. This is the most common red bead traded in North America during the 18th century and these beads are that old as well. While these come from Africa, they are the same beads as traded in North America and have just about the same kind of history behind them. Beads on all strands are graduated in size and strands average about 25 inches in length. "    $40.00

BW-031  Large White French Cross    These Venetian glass beads are of the same time period as the Yellow French Cross but are far more scarce than the yellow beads. These were traded throughout the Plains and down into the Southwest. The size and condition of these hard to find beads are among the best we have seen and are of museum quality. Necklaces are approximately 30 inches in length.    $125.00

BW-032 BW-032  Black Massai Trade Beads    These 22 inch long necklaces of matte black beads are from the late 19th to early 20th century and were made in Murano, Italy. They are generic enough in style and color to be useful as filler with other beads or as a necklace on their own. They are called "Massai Beads" because of their popularity among the Massai tribe.    $15.00

All Prices Subject To Change Without Notice