Gary L. Fogelman,
Glass Trade Beads of the Northeast
(Fogelman, 1991)

Glass Trade Beads of the Northeast includes a heavyweight, glossy poster of glass beads that will make your eyeballs run out on stems, just like in the cartoons, and make you want to build an equally impressive collection for yourself. The booklet is No. 70 in The Pennsylvania Artifact Series (which this reviewer sure hopes she finds under her Christmas tree this year).

Author Gary L. Fogelman states his purposes for this book as to familiarize the reader with the complex topic of glass beads, to help them understand the role glass beads played in the Native Americans' lifestyles and to provide them with enough information so that they may be able to identify the glass beads and which natives possessed them. He has attempted to show the chronological order of the beads and how they were traded among the peoples of the region.

The book is divided into 10 parts plus a couple of extras. The following are among the headings and topics covered: "Native Made Beads Before & After the White Man," bone and antler, shell, catlinite, forms (trapezoidal, squares and discs with circle cutouts, tubular, spacers, ornaments or non-traditional pendents, effigy pendents, pendents and gorgets, pipes), stone, other native bead media, Northeast overview, previous classification work, problems in bead research, problems from aboriginal times, glass bead manufacturing techniques (drawn, wound, mould-pressed, blown, wound-on-drawn, prosser moulded), regional comparisons, native uses and trends.

There is a section of "bead talk," which provides definitions and thorough explanations for all the various terms that may encountered within the book and likely the entire field. Part VI is "A Classification System for Glass Beads." It provides the chart listing with the type, size, type of glass, name of the color, the color from the Centroid and Munsell charts, number and types of stripes, and so forth. This is the section that allows you to identify the bead that you are holding in your hand. There are many illustrations alongside the chart.

This book is a pleasure to read and is very educational. You can follow the chart and locate the identification for a bead. But my favorite section has to be the uses Native Americans found for the beads, although I also especially liked the "Northeast Overview" and "Problems in Bead Research." I had no idea that there is so much involved with the glass beads. Like many persons, I never really got into the glass beads and was much more interested in the native-made beads and ornamentation. I never realized that certain beads were associated with specific areas and tribes and provide much information about that tribe.

The author's passion for artifacts is evident from the way he writes about them. Only a person with such deep love of a subject can produce a book like this. His comfort with the subject is also readily discerned and creates an ease in the way he explains things -- something that many writers do not achieve in a lifetime of writing. When you read his books, you know that he is in his own element; his comfort zone. You know that you can trust him to provide you with the most accurate information that is available to him and to have thoroughly researched his topic.

Fogelman was born with a love for all things Indian and archaeological. He grew into a life created around these and became a researcher, writer, collector, restorer, appraiser and dealer/trader. He learned flintknapping and honed his skills in the art, became the 1998 World Champion in atlatl throwing, has remained in Top Ten atlatlists in the world and is the co-founder of the Eastern Seaboard Atlatl Championships. He knows his artifacts and writes from the heart. He is the founder of Indian Artifact Magazine, co-author of The Pennsylvania Fluted Point Survey and author of All About the At'-latl and several other books.

If you have any interest in artifacts or Native Americans of the Northeast, you should get Glass Trade Beads of the Northeast. I also would highly recommend it for persons that are interested in making or using beads, although that is not the author's intended purpose. It will be especially useful in the creation (or purchase) of adornments to accompany regalia.

book review by
Alicia Karen Elkins

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