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African Trade Beads


Trade beads were an important part of the early trade ventures between Europe and Africa. Europeans would bring colorful beads to trade with the kings and chiefs of Africa during the 16th all the way through the 20th century. These colorful beads were traded for goods and slaves. (Hence the term trade beads).

There were many types of beads used in this trade and many of them were made in Italy. A very popular style was known as the Millefiori bead which the name Millefiori itself translated from Italian literally means many flowers due to the glass cane technique which produces distinctive decorative patterns of many flowers on the surface of the glass which it was applied to.

We carry a large selection of Trade beads in our online shop. Click here to browse our trade bead selection.

Examples of the Millefiori beads can be seen in the photo below. Note the flower patterns in the beads.

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