Well, yes, originally it contained a neck scarf. But what do you think was in the box when I acquired it 15 years ago?
This envelope was in the box. OK, I'm being mean... you can easily guess what was in the envelope... I was just making you wait for the picture... Here it is! And, yes, it is clickable to enlarge!
Can you believe these precious little hanks of seed beads? I'm not actually certain about their origin. Most of the little hanks made in France are so labeled, which leads me to think these are Czech. These beads are very, very small ~ size 15, I think, or perhaps size 18. Each bundle has 10 hanks. According to the labels, they were originally sold for $.05 per bundle of 10 hanks. Awesome! Some of the colors are faceted (or cut), and as such would be called Charlotte cut seed beads (see below).
I don't know exactly how old these beads are, but I'd guess they were made prior to 1900, and possibly in the early to mid 1800s. Don't you just love this tangible connection to our past? I do!
Here are some other precious little hanks of beads that have fallen into my hands during my 22 years of beading. These were all made in France, and they are metal or have a fired (baked on) metal surface over glass. The ones below are not glass ~ they're made of aluminum. The sweet thing about these is that they retain their silver color forever, because aluminum doesn't tarnish.
The hank shown below is quite heavy. I believe these are referred to as steel cut seed beads, and are made from steel and faceted.
The hank below is also quite heavy. My guess about this one is that the beads are made from steel, faceted, and then plated or fired with gold.
According to this article about Charlotte cut seed beads, there is only one remaining manufacturer of seed beads in Europe ~ located in the Czech Republic. Apparently the French factory closed in 2004. That's a sad thing, because it produced some very wonderful, unique colors such as mustard yellow, Cheyenne pink, pumpkin, French porcelain, Arapahoe green, Periwinkle blue, buckskin, greasy yellow, and several colors of white hearts. In 1985, when I started beading, one could still find these colors, especially at stores specializing in beads for Native Americans. Sadly, I never see them any more. Even more sadly, when I sold my bead shop, Beads Indeed, I didn't think to keep a stash of them for myself. Duh!
Important Question about Using Vintage Seed Beads
To use or not to use, that is the question.
I've hoarded these sweet and beautiful little hanks of beads for many years. For what? I don't know. Perhaps I should donate them to a museum?? Or, maybe should I use some of them for my Bead Journal Project pages?
I haven't decided yet about the bundles. But Monday I bit the bullet and took two strings of beads off the hank of aluminum seed beads to use on my July BJP page. You will see the piece and the aluminum seed beads in my next post.
In the mean time, what do you think about these treasures? Would you use them? Do you have any in your own stash?