Gold-Foil Bead

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Object Name: 
Gold-Foil Bead
Place Made: 
Accession Number: 
Overall H: 1.9 cm, W: 0.6 cm, Th: 0.4 cm
Not on Display
99 BCE-99 CE
Credit Line: 
Gift of Carl Berkowitz and Derek Content
Web Description: 
Gold (sandwich) glass was developed by Hellenistic glassmakers and further advanced by the Romans. This technique involved placing a thin layer of gold foil between two layers of usually colorless glass. It was used to produce beads, with the first known examples dating from the third century B.C. Many of these beads are thought to have been made by drawing one tube for the base layer, covering that tube with a thin coating of gold foil, and then placing a slightly larger tube on top and heating the entire assembly to fuse the layers. The technique by which this example was formed was less often practiced. The patterned bead, with its layers of glass and gold foil, was mold-pressed, probably with tongs. Most gold-glass beads are simple and undecorated, but this example was impressed. The front of the rectangular form probably depicts the Egyptian god Harpokrates in relief, as is evidenced by the finger held up to the mouth. Small circular forms, also in relief, can be seen on the reverse.
Berkowitz, Carl, Source
Content, Derek, Source
Smith, Ray Winfield (American, 1897-1982), Former Collection
Primary Description: 
Gold-Foil Bead. Almost colorless; molded; gilded. Rectangular in cross section, with two wide and two narrow sides, and longitudinal perforation. Wider sides are decorated in relief: one side has standing female figure shown frontally, perhaps naked and perhaps with unidentified object beside and above left shoulder; other side has 12 small protrusions arranged in two parallel rows of six. All four sides are gilded, but ends are not.
Corning Museum of Glass 2013-05-18 through 2014-01-05
For 30,000 years, mankind has crafted beads from natural materials. With the discovery of glassmaking in the second millennium B.C., glass began to be used for this same purpose. Glass beads are universal. They have been produced throughout the 35 centuries of glass manufacturing, and by nearly every culture in the world. The glass beads and beaded objects on view in this exhibition are arranged thematically, comparing the manner in which diverse cultures have utilized beads, frequently for the same purposes, but sometimes for unique reasons. These themes explore how glass beads adorn the body and our possessions; how they convey messages about power and wealth, and identify the stages of human life; how they serve ritual purposes, as well as decorate clothing and objects used in rituals; and how they have been employed across the centuries as a means of exchange, both commercial and cultural. Through the centuries, beads have been made using a variety of processes. Understanding how beads were made has allowed scholars to follow the transmission of beads and beadmaking techniques across the globe. Across time and around the world, glass beads have become a common element of mankind. Through their manufacture and function, they are one of the strings that bind humanity together. “Life on a String” celebrates this common bond while also revealing the distinctiveness of different societies through their use of glass beads to celebrate their unique cultural heritage.
Glass Beads: Selections from The Corning Museum of Glass (2013) illustrated, p. 16, no. 7; BIB# 134720
Sasanian and Post-Sasanian Glass in The Corning Museum of Glass (2005) illustrated, p. 59, #72; BIB# 88262