Compositional Analysis of Prosser Molded Beads Found in Southeast Idaho

Author(s): Michele Hoferitza

Year: 2023


This is an abstract from the "Recent Research on Glass Beads and Ornaments in North America" session, at the 88th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

n 1864, a factory in Briare, France, began producing Prosser Molded beads for African and North American trade. The beads were made using a novel process combining milk as a binding agent to powdered feldspar, calcium fluoride, silica sand, and coloring elements to create a paste that was pressed into molds, then fired in a kiln. The process was subsequently used in a factory in Gablonz, Bohemia, beginning around 1887. Identifying the factory of origin for Prosser beads based on elemental composition may lead to a greater understanding of the distribution of beads from Europe to Native Americans in the West through trading post and mercantile exchange networks. In this study, X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis of a collection of Prosser beads of various colors found in southeastern Idaho indicate dramatic variation between elemental composition of the beads, even between beads of visually similar colors. The variations are examined to determine if coloring elements of copper and cobalt can be diagnostic of which factory manufactured the beads. Improved accuracy in determining the source of Prosser Molded beads using XRF analysis provides critical insights into the development of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century trade networks across two continents.

Cite this Record

Compositional Analysis of Prosser Molded Beads Found in Southeast Idaho. Michele Hoferitza. Presented at The 88th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. 2023 ( tDAR id: 473771)

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 35805.0