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Teton Trade Beads


Trade Beads were carried by traders and explorers to North America and Africa in the bellies of ships to be used to acquire trade items (primarily hides) from the North American Native population and sent back to Europe.  The beads sent to Africa were often the same styles as the ones sent to North America, were used in a significantly more nefarious and heinous trade.  Most of the trade beads originated from Venice Italy, where glass and bead making was a secretive and highly prized industry.  The manufacturing process of beads were so important to the economy in Italy, that the Venetian Government instated a law, after several bead makers went to France to start bead manufacturing there, that the families of these “traitors” would be imprisoned until they returned to Venice.  We are proud to offer both antique and reproduction trade beads.  Our reproduction trade beads are made to the highest standard, hand made using old beads as reference to ensure that they match as closely to the original as possible.  If you have a trade bead that you want and have not been able to find, send us a photo and we will consider having it reproduced.  Some of our trade beads are actual antiques, vintage beads that are offered on an extremely limited basis. 


The left is an antique black "French Ambassador" antique trade bead.  Individually these beads sell for $50.  High quality reproductions (right) are available from Teton Trade Cloth for a fraction of the price.  


"Russian Facets" also known as Bohemian Facets were made in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) and were sold to Russian fur traders who used the beads to trade for furs that were sent back to Russia.  These are highly prized and beautiful beads used by Native People all across the United States

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