Africa Art Beads
In the 15th century, beads were a significant part of the exchanged currency for trading.
The glass beads that have been part of the currency exchange are considered 'aggry', 'trade', or 'slave' beads; they were produced in Venice in Europe first, then Bohemia, the Netherlands and West Africa. The history traced back to the 15th century; in that time, Portuguese ships were trading with West Africa to exploit its resources, from precious gold to slaves, ivory and palm oil.
Glass beads were a significant part of the currency although the world's first coins appeared around 600 B.C., stylized head of a lion and were made of electrum, an alloy of gold and silver and before that ancient China and, about 5,000 years ago, Mesopotamians had even developed a banking system where people could "deposit"
grains, livestock and other valuables for safekeeping or trade. Venetian glass bead was and still produce on-demand, based on the clients' requirements, which changed from place to place, resulting in various designs and magnificent artefacts.
The craftsman, called perlere, involved in the production of trading beads for goods, generates a vast diversity of designs, the durability of the material, and the facility to transport it, making it somewhat challenging to define specifically link a glass pearl to a specific time and place. At some beads can be given a more precise provenance through dated sample cards, sample books and bead catalogues produced by European bead trading houses in the mid-19th to early 20th centuries, now held our collections.